Happy Fourth of July

July 3rd, 2015

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Celebrate dignity.

Celebrate independence.

Celebrate the holiday!

Happy Fourth of July from Catholic Charities!

Inside Scoop on Pope Francis’ NYC Visit

July 2nd, 2015

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By Alice Kenny

Details are surfacing about the upcoming historic visit by Pope Francis to the U.S.

And Catholic Charities is here to share them with you!

 The Pope’s whirlwind visit, scheduled from Sept. 23-27, touches down in Washington D.C..  It moves to NYC.  And it culminates in Philadelphia.

Here in New York, Kathryn Lopez reports in National Review,

The pope will be visiting a Catholic Charities center…to see how ‘strangers’ are welcomed in the city (by a church that was built by immigrants), as Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities in New York put it.”

 Adding more details, this time about Pope Francis’ visit to those served by Catholic Charities in Washington DC, Matt Hadro reports in Catholic Online,

“The Pope will visit the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities branch where he will meet with homeless persons attending the charity’s weekly St. Maria’s Meal program, blessing the food.”

 Pope Francis, since his election, has made solidarity with the poor and the defense of immigrants his towering priorities. His determination to spend time with those served by Catholic Charities during his short trip along the East Coast comes as no surprise, says Msgr. Sullivan.

“This is so appropriate,” Msgr. Sullivan says.  “So many of our agencies day in and day out serve newcomers to our country with a wide range of services..Our food pantries feed immigrant children…Refugee are helped with resettlement…Fearful immigrants are aided in how to avoid exploitation and fraud.  Families are reunited.”

Check out Pope Francis’ full itinerary in Catholic Online.

Read CrossStreets as we continue to bring you breaking news on Pope Francis’ upcoming visit!

For Every Refugee Forced to Flee, I’m Choosing to Run

July 1st, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-07-01 at 10.16.02 AMJust four months to go until the Big Day – the TCS NYC Marathon 2015!

But just what inspires someone to take on this grueling 26-mile run? 

Each of our 12 Team Catholic Charities NYC Marathon runners has a different answer.

Today, let’s here from Jinah Kim, program assistant with Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement department.

By Jinah Kim

Program Assistant

Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement

It was my Alma Mater’s unofficial tradition to run the Boston marathon before graduating and I wasn’t one to miss out on a Boston College tradition. But what was supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience in 2012 turned into an ongoing pursuit of physical excellence and mental discipline.

I signed up for the Philadelphia marathon two years later. I fell in love with the way each community assembled to support runners from abroad and close to home, not to mention the joy of running through carless streets while being cheered by enthusiastic crowds of complete strangers.

I don’t necessarily consider myself a marathon runner, but it was such a natural decision for me to join the Catholic Charities team in the world-famous New York City marathon. I work for the Refugee Resettlement Office of Catholic Charities, I love to run, and it’s New York City. Needless to say, I was quite easily convinced.

This marathon will be especially close to my heart, not only because it takes place in a very special place, but also because I’ll be running for refugee resettlement. I’ll be running for every individual who’s been forced to leave his or her home country because of political or religious persecution, for every family torn apart by war and conflict, for every asylum-seeker struggling to make it in New York City without proper housing and work authorization awaiting a court decision.

Our office works with individuals and families from all over the world, assisting to find employment and resettle in New York City. Regardless of the different traditions and cultural backgrounds our clients come from, I believe that they share the common thread of hard work and extraordinary resilience, the very elements that form the backbone in our pursuits of the “American dream.”

Whenever I go for a particularly difficult run, I have to push myself forward and disregard the pain. Our clients go through a very similar struggle in the resettlement process but with much higher stakes involved. We have clients who were once in well-paid and respected executive positions taking on entry-level jobs as cashiers and porters but they oftentimes do so with great willingness and appreciation. We know mothers who have not seen their children in years but still save up money in hopes that they will soon be reunited, uncertain of exactly when that day will come. I have met men and women well into their fifties traveling an hour and a half each way to attend English classes. By working with my clients, I feel that I’ve tapped into the depths of human potential and witnessed the day-to-day diligence required to run in this very real race of life.

I know from past marathons it’s going to hurt like crazy running 26.2 miles and the several months of training leading up to it are going to require immense focus and intentional sacrifice. But just as my clients are on an everyday basis choosing to hope and move forward, for every refugee, asylee, family, individual, adult and child that was forced to flee, I’m choosing to run.

 Root for Jinah.

Pope Francis Plans to Meet Immigrants Served by Catholic Charities NY

June 30th, 2015

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The Vatican today released the itinerary of Pope Francis for his upcoming trip this September to Cuba, Washington D.C., New York City and Philadelphia.

During this five-day, four-city trip, His Holiness will visit with immigrant and refugee families and children served by Catholic Charities at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in East Harlem on Friday, September 25, 2015.

“We are honored that Pope Francis plans during his short visit to meet and bless immigrant families and children that Catholic Charities serves,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Monsignor Kevin Sullivan.

Congratulations, Good Counsel!

June 30th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

What can be sweeter than watching a toddler take his first steps?

Watch it right here in this just-released video by Good Counsel Inc., an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

The video celebrates Good Counsel’s 30-year anniversary helping women and babies in need.

“I came from absolutely nothing,” one mom, Marisa, says. “Good Counsel took me in and got me on my feet.”

Timothy Cardinal Dolan adds his congratulations as he helps the tiny toddler and greets the moms and babies.

“You’re talking about home,” Cardinal Dolan says. “You’re talking about life; you’re talking a choice on the side of God of babies and moms and families.”

Watch the video.

Learn more.

Breaking News! Community Policing & Catholic Charities

June 29th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 1.35.32 PMThe NYPD announced details last week of its new neighborhood policing strategy, reports ABC News 7.

Hundreds more beat cops are working in neighborhoods where violence continues to dominate.

Eddie Silverio, director of Catholic Charities Community Services Alianza Youth Services, joined Mayor Bill DeBlasio and others to speak about their joint work in Washington Heights.

“We continue to improve communication between youth and the police department,” Mr. Silverio says.

These 1,300 new officers aren’t just extra bodies, they’re the start of a new proactive approach to policing that involves you as a team player!

The pilot program rolled out in the 34th Precinct a little over a month ago and already crime statistics are going down. It’s a trend local  leaders hope will now continue city wide.

It’s a bold new strategic plan local leaders believe will give a much needed edge to the NYPD in the ongoing fight against crime.

1,300 additional officers are not only targeting problem areas but building real relationships with everyday people to forge a united front.

In Washington Heights where the new plan has already been executed, officers at a community meeting Thursday night encouraged neighbors to get more involved.

“We are now doing a bottom up approach where an officer knows the community, the community knows the officer, we stop the problem many cases before it even happens,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Called “One City Safe and Fair Everywhere” Mayor De Blasio along with Commissioner Bratton laid out the details of the new policing framework, which also entails additional training so officers can better engage and activate the communities they serve.

Watch the live event on ABC News 7.

Mad Men or Junior Board? You Decide

June 26th, 2015

JuniorBoard-MobileHeaderBy Alice Kenny

Decked out as our Mad Men favorites – Don Draper, Peggy Olsen, Roger Sterling – nearly 150 Catholic Charities Junior Board members and their friends celebrated the board’s Mad Men-themed gala earlier this month.

The event, in typical Mad Men style, of course included drinks, dancing, card games and mingling.  More important, these budding young members of the Catholic Charities family raised nearly $30,000  to benefit Catholic Charities St. Nicholas Project.  This year-round project provides warm clothes and necessities for thousands of New Yorkers.

“There are so many people in need,” says Grace Nordloh, a co-chair of the Junior Board Gala, “and they rely on our generosity to help them endure the winter season.”

The Mad Men series may have ended but Catholic Charities continues.

Will Don return to NYC and reunite with his children?  Who knows.

But we do know you’re very welcome to have fun with our Junior Board.

Click here to learn more.

Check out these photos on Facebook. 

With Deportations, a Single Day Can Make All the Difference

June 25th, 2015

Photo: Getty Images

The premier Spanish-language newspaper “El Diario” turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services, C. Mario Russell, for regular updates on immigration reform.

In this latest issue of El Diario, learn  how a single day can make all the difference.

By C. Mario Russell

One day can make a big difference. For many long-time resident immigrants who are facing a small misdemeanor criminal charges or who have served their time for a crime such as shoplifting, one day can mean the difference between staying with their families or being separated from them forever.

New York should consider following California’s example when, last year, its governor, Jerry Brown, signed a new law reducing the maximum sentence for lesser crimes–called misdemeanors–from 365 days to 364 days.

While a one-day reduction may not sound like much, it can be very important for immigration purposes.  In New York, a mother who shoplifts diapers for her baby or a teen-ager who shoplifts food from a convenience store could be being sent to jail for up to one year. This fact, alone, can make both the mother and the boy permanently barred from staying in the United States, regardless of how much jail time they got.

Immigration law lists two types of convictions that make an immigrant deportable. The first is called a “crime involving moral turpitude”, which is a certain type of crime punishable by a year or more or in jail.  Long-time residents convicted of shoplifting could not remain in the United States because their jail sentence could have been up to a year, that is 365 days. If the law were changed to make the maximum penalty 364 days, just one day less, they would not be barred from staying.

The second impact of a law such as California’s is that it reduces the risk a misdemeanor will be an “aggravated felony” under immigration law. Aggravated felonies carry especially serious immigration consequences. Not only are aggravated felonies offenses that require someone to be detained and deported, they eliminate nearly any possible defense to deportation.

But how do you know if you were convicted of an “aggravated felony”? You have to look at the long list of crimes in the immigration law, which includes non-violent crimes such as fraud and other crimes that are not a felony—yes, that’s correct—including misdemeanors with a “term of imprisonment” of a year (365 days) or more.

So, if the shoplifting mother and boy were given a term of imprisonment of a year for their shoplifting misdemeanors they will be considered aggravated felons. Yes, aggravated felons who would have to be detained and deported by immigration. Had they been given a term of 364 days, they would not.

Read this now in El Diario.

Mario Russell is Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane NYC. He also teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.

Tips & Tricks: A Runner’s Guide to the NYC Marathon

June 24th, 2015

Can you conquer NYC in 26 miles? 

Our 12 Team Catholic Charities NYC Marathon runners are taking on the challenge.

Check out their “Tips & Tricks; A Runner’s Guide for the NYC Marathon” as they  train for the big day.

Today, let’s here from Vanessa Spoto.

By Vanessa Spoto

I will be running my first marathon on November 1, 2015.  After graduating from college, I set a goal to run the New York City marathon.  I did not gain entry the last few years but this year I am so grateful to be running for team Catholic Charities.

I worked for Grace Institute – a non-profit organization (affiliated with Catholic Charities) which provides tuition-free business skills training and job placement for underserved women.  We worked very closely with Catholic Charities and I am familiar with the good work of the organization.  Many of Grace Institute’s graduates have eagerly gone on to work for Catholic Charities and serve an organization that helped them fight hunger, obtain affordable housing, strengthen and reunite their families and much more.

As a native New Yorker and avid runner, it has been my dream to run the NYC marathon and experience the 26.2 mile journey through the five boroughs.  In addition to training, it’s even more fulfilling to fundraise for an organization that strives to serve our community.

Running is a very large part of my life and I have pursued running longer distances during the past few years.  I ran cross country and track and field all throughout high school and college at Fordham University.  I have also run the NYC half marathon twice, but this is my first time running for a charity and running a marathon, and it’s very exciting.

Thank you in advance for your generosity and support.

Root for Vanessa!

Hurray for Our Rising Star!

June 23rd, 2015

Jessica LazoBy Kristin Jensen

Jessica Lazo, a Migration Counselor at the Catholic Charities New American Opportunity Center in Newburgh, was named a 2015 Orange County Rising Star. The award recognizes up-and-coming professionals under the age of 40 who live, work  or volunteer in Orange County. It’s presented jointly each year by Junior League of Orange County and Leadership Orange.

Jessica has successfully assisted hundreds of Orange County residents with legal advice and applications for immigration benefits, including US citizenship, green cards, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. When the immigration program relocated to the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, Jessica took on the challenge of promoting its services in the community, educating immigrants about their rights, and forging strong relationships with other agencies that serve immigrants.

“Jessica is a tireless and devoted advocate for immigrants’ rights, always going the extra mile for those in need,” said her supervisor Raluca Oncioiu, Director, Immigration Legal Services and Immigration Hotline.”