Learn English on Your Cell Phone

May 1st, 2015

All immigrants in New York State will have access to a free English program pending the results of a pilot with Spanish-speaking residents. Shutterstock/Rob Marmion

Plenty of politicians think that immigrants should learn English, but now one of them is doing something about it, reports Latin Times.

Catholic Charities is partnering with the New York State Office for New Americans to enroll immigrants in the program.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) made his state the first to offer English lessons via cellphone as a part of a pilot program run by the social venture Cell-ED. The first phase of the program, directed at Spanish speakers in selected New York counties, reportedly costs the state a mere$14,000. The program will be free for participants, aside from the cost of minutes and text messages on their phones. Cuomo’s administration hope that the English lessons will help struggling immigrant who hope to improve their English but don’t have time to attend classes in person.

The program, overseen by the The New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) and contracted to Cell-ED combines text messages, voice tutorials, and two-way communication with tutors. Pending a successful pilot, all New York state residents will be able to call a Cell-ED number to begin receiving tutorials as well as the ability to send back answers to be automatically reviewed and corrected. While the pilot program is offered in Spanish, the ONA says that other languages such as Mandarin, French and others could be added in the future.

Read the full story in Latin Times.

Hundreds Rally for Cost-of-living Adjustments

April 30th, 2015

Photo Credit: Human Services Council

“Hundreds of representatives of the human services sector convened on the steps of City Hall on Monday, April 27, 2015, to call for cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in their city contracts,” reports New York Nonprofit Daily. Representatives from Catholic Charities stood among them.

The City relies on nonprofit human services providers to deliver billions of dollars in essential services to communities across the City. Despite a recovering economy and a skyrocketing cost of living, however, these nonprofit organizations have not received a City COLA since 2008.

The Human Services Council of New York (HSC) organized this rally to draw attention to the needs of the sector and the communities that it serves. HSC supports Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to fighting inequality, and wage increases for our sector will advance this cause.

The human services sector plays an important part in improving community health and safety, combating poverty, and fostering equity.

Nonprofit organizations provide job training and placement, early childhood education and after-school enrichment, violence intervention, legal assistance, homeless shelters, community health services, assistance to immigrants, senior services, and much more.

These services empower struggling New Yorkers to overcome a vast array of challenges impeding their ability to succeed. In addition to improving the lives of the disadvantaged, this industry is a major economic engine. In New York City alone, nonprofit organizations deliver nearly $5.5 billion in human services each year through City-funded contracts. The vast majority of human services workers are women and people of color.

 

Read more in New York Nonprofit Daily.

Parallels Between My Jewish Faith & the Mission of Catholic Charities

April 29th, 2015

meiraFordham University social work graduate student Meira Zack is completing an 8-month internship with Catholic Charities Community Services.

By Meira Zack

I am Jewish and interning here at Catholic Charities has been my first real exposure to Catholicism and its observances. What better place to experience it than the Archdiocese!

As a religious individual, I have always been inspired by the mission-driven attitude behind our work at Catholic Charities Community Services.  This meaningful connection was intensified for me by the period of Lent and the Lenten message repeated in multiple agency emails: “Forty days before Easter when, through prayer, sacrifice and helping others, we transform our Christian love into action.”

This message particularly spoke to me because it parallels the three-fold mantra of the Jewish High Holy Days “Teshuva, Tefeela, uTzedaka, ma’aveerin et ro’ah hagezayra – Repentance, Prayer, and Giving revoke the evil decree.”

It inspired me to meditate on the messages of Teshuva, Tefeela, and Tzedaka, and what they have meant to me in the context of my time here at Catholic Charities.

  • Teshuva/Repentance – repairing damage done and healing wounds between self and God and self and others.  At Catholic Charities Community Services, we repair the relationship between society and its vulnerable populations; we help clients repair damage done in their personal lives.
  • Tefeela/Prayer – faith in God, supplication to God, dialogue with God; communal prayer and solidarity.  At Catholic Charities Community Services we are in a unique position where clients may ask us to pray with or for them; where they may turn to us for religious inspiration and hope.
  • Tzedaka/Giving – giving of one’s self, time, and money.  At Catholic Charities Community Services, we not only give of our time and selves in the work we do every do with clients, but also of our own resources in raising funds for the St. Nicholas Project and pantry items for Feeding Our Neighbors.

The united messages of “prayer-sacrifice-helping others” and “repentance-prayer-giving” teach the same lessons of repair, giving, honesty and togetherness with a focus on God as inspiration, partner, and conduit for “providing help, creating hope, and upholding the dignity of each person as made in the image of God by serving the basic needs of the poor, troubled, frail and oppressed of all religions.”

This is the vision and mission of Catholic Charities.

A Thank You Note from A Once-Struggling Teen

April 28th, 2015

shaquielleShaquille Vazquez, 19, and now a freshman at Onondaga Community College, credits Catholic Charities for getting him there.  Our Alianza division’s Innovation Diploma Plus High School Learning to Work program (IDP /LTW for those who like initials) provides the support challenged teens like Shaquille need to thrive. 

He asked us to share his thank you letter:

I was solely centered on friendship, girls and playing football but thanks to all of the people involved at the Catholic Charities Learning To Work program I realized that with that kind of mindset I was going nowhere.

As I remember all it took was attending a college trip with the LTW program. At first my advocate begged me to go, I thought that it was really I waste of time but the magic just happen, I felt in love with the college life. I saw myself in every student I had a chance to meet, and then I learned that I was qualified to apply to the school but there was a lot of work to be done.

The first thing I did was becoming a youth leader at the LTW College Access Youth Leadership Program, where I was able to learn and navigated college programming. All the trainings I  attended about college explorations, applications and financial aid process made it easier for my own, plus the support of the all the staff.

My experience at IDP/LTW has helped me grow as a student and more importantly to grow as a young individual.

I thank IDP and Catholic Charities Alianza LTW Program for welcoming me with open arms.

Feeding Our Neighbors, 1.3 Million Times

April 27th, 2015

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“Catholic Charities’ Feeding Our Neighbors campaign topped its lofty goal of providing 1 million meals to New Yorkers in need,” writes Catholic New York in their recent editorial. “And thanks to the efforts of Catholics across the archdiocese as well as a host of other partners, the annual initiative collected enough food to make 300,000 additional meals available to those coming to food pantries and soup kitchens, many in local parishes, for assistance.”

Catholic Charities, under Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, the executive director, deserves a lot of credit for laying out a successful vision that encourages participation and support from such a wide net of donors and facilitators…

In commending Catholic Charities, and by extension the thousands who helped it collect 1.3 million meals, we know the heart of Feeding Our Neighbors’ success is its ability to deliver a Gospel-driven response to real needs. It’s a simple formula, really, and the benefits extend to donors as well as recipients.

Read the full editorial in Catholic New York.

And thank you for your help feeding our neighbors!

Do you have a personal story about how you helped?

Share it in our comments section

Bombarded by Tragedies?

April 24th, 2015

Photograph by Chris Ramirez PhotographerBy Alice Kenny

When one tragedy hits, other tragedies too often follow.  We lose a job and then have a tough time paying rent.  We need help with immigration but can’t explain ourselves clearly in English.  Our home floods and we lose our furniture and clothes as well.

Making things worse is the hard time we have when we try to navigate the systems that are supposed to assist us.

Catholic Charities is here help.  Our knowledgeable professionals can help you deal with overlapping problems and cut through bureaucratic red tape.

This can make the difference between getting the help you need and simply giving up.

Click here to find a Catholic Charities agency to coordinate the services you need.

Contact us through the Catholic Charities Help Line: 888-744-7900.

Executive Action Q & A

April 23rd, 2015

About 338,000 undocumented immigrants living in New York State may qualify for President Obama’s Executive Action on immigration reform.

YOU – or someone you know — may be one of them.

Q: Four Letters – What Do They Mean & How Can They Help?

A: The President’s Executive Action is still being fought in the courts.  If it goes through, these four letters – DACA or DAPA – could change your life.

  • Deferred Action for Parental Accountability (DAPA)
    DAPA helps parents who arrived in the United States on or before January 1, 2010, and who have at least one U.S. Citizen or Legal Permanent Resident son or daughter. This allows immigrant parents to stay in the country, work legally for 3 years, and apply for travel permission.
  • Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)
    DACA helps immigrants who came to the United States before their 16th birthday and arrived on or before January 1, 2010. This program allows immigrants who qualify to stay in the country, work legally for 3 years, and apply for travel permission.

Q: Why are these programs important?

A: The U.S. government will not deport immigrants who qualify for either of these programs for 3 years. This promise is called “Deferred Action” and will be written on a Work Authorization card with your name and picture. Even though these programs are temporary, if you believe you qualify, continue to gather documents and evidence for your application.

Q:Too Complicated to Read – Time for a Face-to-Face

A: Several times each week, Catholic Charities and its partners in the Archdiocese and in the New York area offer free informational presentations.

For other events in the New York City area, visit the Mayor’s Offices of Immigration Affairs events page

Teens to Serve on NYC Community Boards

April 22nd, 2015

Downtown Express photos by Dusica Sue Malesevic Teens interested in applying for community board positions debated the best way to spend $100 million of public money during an exercise in Borough President Gale Brewer’s office last Friday.

It had all the makings of a typical teen party — pizza and soda, excited chatter, and of course, young people, writes Dusica Sue Malesevic in Downtown Express. But it was no party, but rather a meeting to discuss a serious commitment that some adults would shy away from: serving on a community board.

And far from shying away, students from Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division in collaboration with the High School for Media and Communications, were active participants.

Each potential applicant took turns introducing him or herself, stating their age and their school or university…The meeting gave the teens the opportunity to learn community board basics and ask questions that are specific to their age and circumstances: homework, going off to college and working with mostly adults.

For 17-year-old Shirlyn Perez, a junior at High School for Media and Communications, to serve on a board is an opportunity that is “very appealing — not only because I get to contribute to my community but also learn a lot from it.”

Perez, who lives in Washington Heights, said she will definitely be applying to her neighborhood’s board, C.B. 12.

“It’s an exposure to many other things that we don’t get to experience at school,” she said.

Perez said she would focus on the issues of low undergraduate rates and drug use in her neighborhood.

Her classmate, Marleny Delarosa, 16 and from the Bronx, said she would also apply for C.B. 12.

“I care for my community so I’m interested in knowing what’s going on and what I can do to help improve it,” she said.

Read the full coverage in Downtown Express

Need Help? Don’t Know Where to Turn & Tired of Voice Mail Options?

April 21st, 2015

helplineblog
By Alice Kenny

Call our Catholic Charities Help Line for your social service needs. Our bilingual phone operators are backed with up-to-date, reliable information.

We can link you to services from:

  • Catholic Charities agencies
  • Parishes
  • Human service organizations
  • Public benefit programs

If we can’t answer your question right away, we will research it and get back to you.

Call our Help Line at 888-744-7900.

Food Pantry or Grocery Store?

April 20th, 2015

frigBy Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities’ innovative supermarket-style Kingston, New York food pantry just grabbed the spotlight. And that’s no small accomplishment.

The pantry belongs to The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, a network of thousands of food pantries and soup kitchens that serve New Yorkers in need.  They are run by 875 fellow agencies.  And they stretch across 23 counties in northeastern New York.

Yet the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York magazine focused on this state-of-the-art food pantry.  It devoted the magazine’s inaugural Q & A section to interview Tom Kelly, Regional Director of Catholic Charities of Ulster County to find out all about it.

The more you find out about the food pantry, the more it is clear why it was chosen.

The pantry is set up like a grocery store. Hungry clients choose what they need. They fill their grocery bags with farm-stand produce. They add the canned goods their families like. And they grab refrigerated and frozen items from donated commercial-sized refrigerated equipment.

The only difference from a grocery store? There is no cash register, no bill.  That’s right; hungry people in need shop for their families for free.

Even their children have fun as they play in a large waiting room manned by Catholic Charities staff and volunteers that is filled with toys.

“It is a pleasure to see our clients come to our pantry, being treated with dignity by our pantry staff,” Mr. Kelly says, “and leaving with bags of groceries that they hand-picked for themselves and they will consume and enjoy.”

Read more about this Client Choice food pantry in the Regional Food Bank magazine.