Shootin’ School – and That’s the Good News

August 22nd, 2014

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By Alice Kenny

It may be time for a new name – but certainly not a new focus – for the Shootin’ School, a program that partners with Catholic Charities CYO in Staten Island to help children perfect their basketball moves while encouraging them to rally around those in need.

Throughout the summer, children grades three through eight participated in four-day clinics to perfect their layups, free throws and all-round basketball shooting. Several of the children come from low-income families. They received scholarships so they could play with their classmates and peers.

Then, last week, on the program’s final day its founder, Anthony Passalaqua, provided the players with pizza lunch in return for food they brought to help replenish the Catholic Charities food pantry in Port Richmond.

Potential Pope Visit ‘a Blessing’ for New Yorkers

August 21st, 2014

By Mike Vlensky

Wall Street Journal

“Catholic New Yorkers expressed high hopes after Pope Francis said Monday he might visit New York City, which would mark the first papal visit since 2008,” reports Mike Vilensky on August 20, 2014 in the Wall Street Journal.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, an umbrella organization that encompasses 90 agencies serving people throughout the New York Archdiocese, said the new pope’s messages on peace and inequality have spurred a renewed enthusiasm and commitment among donors and charity workers alike.

‘There are no plans yet,’ said Msgr. Sullivan of the possible New York trip, but the tradition has been that if a pope comes to address the United Nations, he usually also makes side trips into the community.

Among the projects on Msgr. Sullivan’s wish list: taking the pope to see children who have fled desperate situations in Central America, visits to homeless shelters and to meet ‘New Yorkers who struggle to have a decent meal at the end of the day.’

Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

Expedited Immigration Hearings in NYC for Minors

August 20th, 2014

A federal immigration court in Manhattan that usually deals with fewer than 100 new children’s cases a month is getting a lot busier, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Twenty-nine minors who entered the country unaccompanied by adults appeared Wednesday before Judge James Loprest, Jr., some with attorneys, others with family by their sides. Six-year-old Gabriela and her brother Brandon Lopez, 15, were among the minors hoping to be allowed to legally stay with family already living in the U.S.

The siblings participated in the first day of surge docket hearings at federal immigration court. The “surge docket” is an initiative by the federal government to help expedite the legal process for the more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors who have been processed into the system since October.

The minors are fleeing poverty, gang-violence and death, say advocates from the New York chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

AILA is one of five groups handling unaccompanied minor cases. The others are the Legal Aid Society and nonprofits Catholic Charities, Safe Passage, and The Door. The groups have been preparing for a surge in cases since they learned 3, 347 unaccompanied minors had arrived in the state since January. New York is second to Texas with the most cases.

Gabriela and Brandon needed to leave their home country to get away from extortionists, said their father, 35-year-old Emerson Lopez.

“I began to hear rumors that they were going start charging rent for each head,” Lopez said, referring to his children.

“In my home country, they call them ‘heads.’ They treat people as if they are cattle, and that’s when my wife and I made the decision to send for them,” he said.

Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

Find out more about the help Catholic Charities provides in the Latin Post.

August Is National Eye Exam Month

August 19th, 2014

Guild for Blind 5-10 024smDo you know someone who is visually challenged and needs help?

At Catholic Charities, we have specialized programs for children and adults with visual handicaps that help them live independently and participate fully in all aspects of community life.

Our wide range of services include basic education, vocational training and instruction in using adaptive technology at home and in the work place.

Staff help individuals learn how to safely get from their homes to school, work and other locations.

In addition, Catholic Charities operates the only English as a Second Language instruction program for immigrants and refugees who are blind or visually impaired.

Click here for help.

In Court, Immigrant Children Moved to Head of the Line

August 18th, 2014

Yovany’s first opportunity to face the United States justice system came late on Thursday morning, more than a month after his journey from Guatemala ended in an American detention center near the Southwest border, reports Kirk Semple in The New York Times on August 14, 2014…

Yovany was among 55 children who have come before the judge this week as part of a new accelerated court process, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s strategy to deal with the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America…

Before the surge of unaccompanied minors became a crisis for the Obama administration, the immigration courts in New York, among the nation’s busiest, held four special juvenile dockets every month for children facing deportation. In coordination with court officials, a coalition of groups — including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Catholic Charities Community Services, Legal Aid, Safe Passage Project and the Door — provided screening and free legal representation to the children…

Immigrants’ advocates in New York learned only at the end of July that the Justice Department had scheduled the new juvenile dockets starting this week. The groups, already overstretched, rushed to develop a plan of action…

The special dockets unfolded this week on the 12th floor of 26 Federal Plaza, a hulking federal office building near City Hall. The children, most accompanied by relatives, began to gather in the hallway outside Courtroom 31 by 8 a.m., an hour before the hearings were to begin…

On both days, Elvis Garcia Callejas, a representative from Catholic Charities, used a white board to present the families with a primer, in Spanish, on how the court works and on possible avenues of relief they might pursue to avoid a deportation order.

Most of the defendants appeared to be teenagers, although there were children as young as 4. Two young sisters wore matching striped dresses.

“The judge is not going to rule today,” Mr. Garcia Callejas clarified…

Justice Department officials said they had a mandate to ensure that children went before an immigration judge within 21 days of being placed in deportation proceedings. They plan to hold the special dockets as often as necessary to reach that goal.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

Catholic Charities Orange County Aces Golf Outing

August 14th, 2014

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The eighth annual golf outing held by Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County net $27,000, announced the agency’s Executive Director Dr. Dean Scher and the event’s Chairman Tom Larsen, Esq. Funds raised go directly toward supporting Catholic Charities’ programs and services in Orange County.

The outing, held at West Hills Country Club, a part of the Bonura Hospitality Group, in Middletown, brought in 109 golfers. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York was the event’s lead sponsor.

“The annual Catholic Charities outing is more than just a fun day on the golf course with friends and colleagues. It’s a way to lend a helping hand to the neediest in our community – the more than 24,000 people who access Catholic Charities’ programs each year,” said Larsen. “We are grateful for the support from our sponsors, golfers, raffle donors, committee members, and volunteers who generously donated time, talent, and funds to make our 2014 annual golf outing a success.”

Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County, one of the human service agencies of Catholic Charities of The Archdiocese of New York, is committed to building a compassionate and just society, serving the homeless, the hungry, the emotionally and physically handicapped, immigrants, the marginalized and vulnerable of Orange County. It collaborates with parishes and non-Catholic and Catholic partners and helps people of all religions who are in need.

For more information, visit www.catholiccharitiesoc.org.

Catholic Charities Joins Public Advocate Letitia James to Call for Pro-Bono Legal Help for Unaccompanied Children

August 13th, 2014
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Catholic Charities Supervising Attorney Margaret Martin with Letitia James and fellow advocates

Public Advocate Letitia James joined a coalition of immigration advocates including Catholic Charities, New York Immigration Coalition and Legal Aid Society yesterday, August 12, 2014, to call on increased protection and representation for undocumented youth navigating New York immigration court.

Margaret Martin,  supervising attorney for Catholic Charities Unaccompanied Minors Program, spoke at the event along with others to call for the creation of a help desk at Immigration Court that will provide counsel and resources to children and their families, and monthly clinics around the City to train attorneys who volunteer to act as a friend of the court during initial hearings (“surge dockets”) that involve unaccompanied minors.  The Public Advocate seeks to recruit attorneys to serve in this capacity pro-bono and also plans to undergo training to serve unaccompanied youth.

Today, the first of nearly 3,500 unaccompanied children– many of whom have both experienced and been witness to heinous crimes in their home countries– will enter New York State to face deportation proceedings via accelerated court hearings.

New York State is second only to Texas in the number of unaccompanied children hosted, followed by Florida with 3,181 and California with 3,150. These children, as young as five years old, come without any knowledge of our legal system, yet are expected to navigate the complex juvenile surge docket.

Children and others in court for immigration charges do not have a right to an attorney — so if they cannot afford one or do not have family to help them find one, they go unrepresented in their hearings.

“For more than 8 years, Catholic Charities has been providing compassionate help to those seeking refuge from Central America,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Monsignor Kevin Sullivan.

“We have seen the number of children in need of help increase dramatically and witnessed the emotional and physical scars they bear from violence and abuse in their home countries.  We continue to respond to each child’s needs, by expanding our services to meet the growing demand, whether through providing proper legal representation, helping reunification with custodial parents, or coordinating needed supportive human services.”

Why I Work – and Run – For Catholic Charities

August 12th, 2014
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Barbara Harrison receives service award from Cardinal Dolan

By Barbara Harrison

I work as a case manager for Catholic Charities and see how our St. Nicholas fund helps out so many families throughout the year and brings such joy at Christmas time.

It is one of the best parts of my job to see the joy this programs brings and in this spirit that I wanted to run the marathon to raise funds for this program.

I began running when I was about 50 years old and ran two marathons in the 1990’s.  After that my husband became ill and subsequently passed away.I found other forms of exercise.  I was still raising our four children as well and life was very busy. In my heart I always wanted to run the NYC marathon because it is ”the best.”

I was inspired to run this marathon when my coworker’s mother was diagnosed with cancer in the early spring. She is about my age which will be 69 when I run the race. I understood how frightening and challenging her road ahead would be and how fortunate I am to be in good health and able to run. I decided to enter the race for her to cheer her on in her battle.

My home is in the Hudson Valley and I work in Poughkeepsie, so I felt that it would be fun to represent this area of the Archdiocese by running the marathon.

I run in the morning at 6 a.m. on the beautiful rail trails in our area with my running partner, my daughter, Sarah.  We are currently running about 24 miles weekly and it is wonderful to be preparing for this race.

Learn more about Barbara and help support her run.

Summer Retreat for Scholars — If You Call Volunteering a Retreat

August 11th, 2014

“It’s summer time when thoughts of most college-age students turn to kicking back at the beach,” reports Catholic New York in this recent article. But the archdiocese’s Pierre Toussaint Scholars decided instead to have a retreat the last weekend in June.

Photo by Leah T. Dixon

Pierre Toussaint scholars are graduating seniors from various schools in the Archdiocese of New York who demonstrate active involvement in a church or faith community. They also score high on academic achievement. And they demonstrate a commitment to serving others, similar to the scholars’ namesake, the Venerable Pierre Toussaint.

Mr. Toussaint was born a slave in Haiti in 1766 and died a freeman in New York City in 1853. He touched the hearts of many by living his life, he said, “to be an apostle of goodness to everyone he met.” He was instrumental in raising funds for the first Catholic orphanage, starting the city’s first school for black children, providing funds for the Oblate Sisters of Providence, (a religious community of black nuns), and raising funds to build the Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. With money he earned as successful entrepreneur he purchased the freedom of others instead of his own.

The retreat included a service component, in which the scholars decorated backpacks for Catholic Charities. The backpacks will be distributed to the children of refugees.

‘This is part of what makes me proud of this program,’ said Brother Tyrone Davis, C.F.C., executive director of the archdiocese’s Office of Black Ministry, ‘that we have some of our college students-leaders involved in Church and ministry and that they might continue to do so even after graduating.’

Read the full story in Catholic New York.

 

Catholic Charities Welcomes Unaccompanied Minors While Upholding Law

August 8th, 2014

NOTE: All photos require the written permission of copyright holder Maria R. Bastone for usage. NO MODEL RELEASES; NO SALES; NO TRANSFER OF RIGHTS TO THIRD PARTYCatholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan stressed in a Catholic New York  front page story that the Church’s stance on helping unaccompanied minors seeking asylum is “entirely in keeping with the law, specifically a law passed by Congress in 2008 and signed by President George W. Bush to curb child trafficking.”

That law requires that the government allow minors from Central America time to seek protection in the United States, and not be subject to immediate deportation as is the case with illegal immigrants from Mexico.

‘The current situation of the surge of children arriving at the southern border is one in which in the tradition of this country, those who are fleeing violence, fear of persecution or abuse in their own countries are given refuge in this country for a humanitarian purpose,” he explained . “What we are doing now as a country and what Catholic Charities is doing is providing that safe haven for those seeking to flee from abuse and violence in their native countries.’

‘Where this relates to the overall immigration question is, and this needs to be said very clearly, the Catholic Church is not in favor of illegal immigration. It is for that reason that we believe the laws of this country need to be reformed and a comprehensive approach needs to be taken, which provides for a fair and humane legal immigration system that doesn’t precipitate illegal immigration.’

Read the full interview in Catholic New York.