Archive for April, 2012

Viacom Corporate Volunteers Refresh a Harlem Community Center

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is more than just a buzzword. As more and more for-profit companies become directly involved in community stewardship, charitable organizations can benefit from meaningful support that goes beyond philanthropic dollars to include cause-based awareness building and group volunteering.

Check out a photo album on Facebook featuring our Viacom volunteers:

On April 20, Catholic Charities welcomed volunteers from Viacom’s annual ViaCommunity Day, in which Viacom employees join forces to support community projects in cities around the world. Thanks to the energetic team, a long-awaited and much-needed painting project was completed at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Center in Harlem.

The Kennedy Center’s fourth floor Alumni Conference Room, a multipurpose room used for activities ranging from Bible study classes to choir rehearsals, offers great acoustics for music rehearsals – but the mustard-yellow walls have been in need of a refreshing paint job. Luckily for the Kennedy Center, roughly 25 volunteers from Viacom, the parent company of Paramount Pictures and media networks including MTV, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central and BET, dedicated their day to painting the room a crisp, bright white.

Lead by Staci Bruce, Catholic Charities Director of Volunteer Services and former Viacom employee herself when she worked for Showtime, and Tara Clark, the project’s team leader, the painting project was able to get completed by lunch time.

“I always look forward to [ViaCommunity Day]. This is a great way to build camaraderie and also help the community,” said Tara, who works for Nickelodeon.

And help the community they did. A painting project of this magnitude could be very costly and take three times longer if contracted with a private company. During times when nonprofits must contend with reduced budgets and limited funding, volunteer projects like this are often the only way these community-based charities can keep serving their clients. This is especially so for the Kennedy Center, which serves more than 6,000 people every month, operating services ranging from college preparation workshops to a food pantry for the elderly.

Stacy Katz and Kelly Sherman of Comedy Central discussed why ViaCommunity Day is of particular importance to them:

“I like to give back but I don’t always have the time to do something like this. Viacom takes charge in setting this up each year and actually encourages people to show up and help.”

The Kennedy Center wasn’t the only site that benefited from today’s event. While most Viacom volunteers painted the room, a dozen split off to work on painting a mural that will be presented to the Beacon of Hope House, a Catholic Charities Community Services program that serves physically and emotionally challenged individuals.

Viacom was named the overall leader in CSR practices by PR News in 2011.

Thank You for Feeding Our Neighbors

Friday, April 13th, 2012

Late last year, Cardinal Dolan identified a critical need in the New York Archdiocese: hungry families and dwindling food pantries. He asked us to meet the challenge of replenishing food pantries and soup kitchens to ensure that no hungry neighbor is turned away.

Between January 22nd and January 29th, this challenge was met. Thanks to the collaborative efforts of the Catholic schools, parishes and institutions of the New York Archdiocese, we raised more than 575,000 meals through the Feeding our Neighbors Campaign: A Catholic Response. Just as important, our message resonated — no hungry neighbor, non-Catholics and Catholics alike, should be turned away.

Parishes responded by filling the boxes provided, publicizing the campaign, and holding a second collection to help meet this basic human need. Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) teams throughout the Archdiocese pledged generous goals to support their home parishes in this endeavor. Archdiocesan Catholic schools joined in by holding special food drives, collecting thousands of pounds of food through the generous support of students and their families.

We extend special thanks, and congratulations, to organizations that went above and beyond in contributing to the Feeding Our Neighbors campaign. Holy Name of Jesus, Valhalla, was the highest-contributing parish, with more than 5,025 pounds of food collected. Regina Coeli School was the highest-contributing Catholic school, with more than 1,350 pounds of food collected.

Rusty Staub and the Mobile Food Pantry helped collect food donations at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and throughout the Archdiocese throughout the week-long campaign. Generous support and partnership was also provided by the Archdiocesan Catechetical Office and the Office of the Superintendent of Schools.

Because of the hard work of many, more than 40 parish and community-based food pantries and soup kitchens received food or grants:

STATEN ISLAND: St. Edward’s Food Pantry at Mt. Loretto, St. Ann Parish, St. Mary of the Assumption and Holy Family Food Pantry.

MANHATTAN: St. Mary’s Food Pantry, Church of St. Gregory the Great Food Pantry, Our Lady of Lourdes Pantry, Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal – Fr. Solanus Casey Food Pantry, Kennedy Center Food Pantry; Harlem, Washington Heights Ecumenical Food Pantry, St. Cecilia’s Food Pantry; East Harlem, Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry; Lower East Side, All Saints Food Pantry; Harlem and St. Mark’s Food Pantry; Harlem.

BRONX: St. Crispin’s, St. Raymond’s Food Pantry, St. Simon Stock Food Pantry, St. Anthony Parish Food Pantry, Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal Guadalupe Convent, Immaculate Conception Food Pantry, Our Lady of Grace Social Outreach Pantry and Highbridge Community Pantry/Muslim Women’s Institute.

WESTCHESTER: Holy Rosary; Port Chester, Holy Spirit Food Pantry; Cortlandt Manor, Food Bank of Westchester, Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; Yonkers, St. Mary’s Food Pantry; Mohegan Lake, St. Joseph’s; Yonkers, St. Peter’s Parish Food Pantry; Yonkers, Sacred Heart Church; Mount Vernon and Sacred Heart Food Pantry; Dobbs Ferry.

ROCKLAND: Catholic Community Services of Rockland and St. Peter’s Parish Food Pantry.

DUTCHESS: Hyde Park Community Pantry, St. Denis Parish Food Pantry; Hopewell Jct., St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry and St. Mary Mother of the Church Parish Food Pantry; Fishkill.

SULLIVAN: St. George – St. Francis Parish Food Pantry; Jeffersonville and Federation of the Homeless.

We look forward to another successful Feeding Our Neighbors campaign in 2013. Thank you again for your support.

Transforming Lives with Hope: An Easter Video from Catholic Charities

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Easter is a sign of hope, and a sign of life. It is a reminder of the work we do at Catholic Charities for those who are suffering in our community.

The time of Easter reminds us that the help we give is a creative help – one that renews, one that transforms.

With your help, Catholic Charities enables people to transform their lives, so that they can live a new life, in a new way, based upon the goodness, the love and the caring that you bring to them.

So to all the friends and supporters in the Catholic Charities family, thank you for all that you do. We wish you a most blessed Easter season.

Transform a life this Easter.

Good Friday Processions: A Nationwide List

Wednesday, April 4th, 2012


San Jose City Hall (San Jose) – Procession sponsor: “Communion and Liberation


Court Street Square (San Bernardino/Highland) – Catholic sponsored – Interdenominational


St. Joseph’s Cathedral (San Diego) Good Friday Pro Life Procession and Stations of the Cross


Sacred Heart Catholic Church (Ventura) Good Friday Walk in Reparation for the Sin of Abortion


Our Lady of Peace Church (Santa Clara) 37th Annual Good Friday Prayer Walk for the Unborn



Blessed John XXIII Parish (Denver) – Daylong Interactive Stations


Our Lady of Grace (Denver) – Interdenominational procession[G]Containers/ForAgencies/TransparentLgTitle



Holy Redeemer Catholic Church (Miami) Interdenominational procession for poor, homeless, victims of violence


Palm Beach, Florida: Pax Christi Palm Beach sponsored Good Friday Stations of the Cross Focused on Immigration


 Tallahassee, Florida: Pax Christi Tallahassee & Florida Catholic Conference Good Friday Stations of the Cross United against the Death Penalty


 St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church (Delray Beach) “Living Stations of the Cross”



State Capitol (Atlanta) Interdenominational multi-lingual procession through downtown Atlanta concluding at MLK Jr.’s crypt



St. Ambrose Cathedral (Des Moines) Traditional “Way of the Cross” through downtown Des Moines



Providence of God Church (Chicago) – “Living Stations of the Cross”


Holy Name Cathedral (Chicago) Procession  sponsor: “Communion and Liberation


Most Blessed Trinity Parish (Chicago) – “Living Stations of the Cross”


St. Agnes of Bohemia (Chicago) – Via Crucis (Way of the Cross)



Grand Caillou Highway (Dulac) Interdenominational “Living Way of the Cross”



St. Daniel the Prophet (Nashville)



Government Center Station (Boston) “Way of the Cross for Life”



St. Camillus Church (Silver Springs) Multicultural Via Crucis


St. John’s Catholic Church (Auburn)



Troy Fairgrounds Park (Lincoln County) – Interdenominational procession



Mary Magdalene Church (Omaha), Creighton Center for Service and Justice’s 34 Annual Good Friday Walk for Justice



Prince of Peace Parish (Albuquerque) Good Friday Youth Hike through the Sandia Foothills reflecting of scriptural Stations of the Cross


Good Friday Way of the Cross through Manhattan: Pax Christi Metro New York’s 30th Annual Good Friday Way of the Cross through Manhattan


Way of the Cross over the Brooklyn Bridge to Ground Zero: Communion and Liberation sponsored traditional Way of the Cross


 St. Stephen Church (Brooklyn) Traditional Italian Good Friday Procession with Statuary of the Body of Christ and Our Lady of Sorrows



Chuch of St. Ann’s Hampton Traditional Good Friday Procession with Statuary of the Body of Christ and Our Lady of Sorrows


St. Joseh’s Chuch (Lodi NJ) Living Stations of the Cross



Various (Cleveland) – Interdenominational procession


St. John the Evangelist (Cincinnati) – “Good Friday Way of the Cross for Peace and Justice”



St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church (Portland) Washington County Walk of the Cross for Peace and Justice


St. Mary’s Cathedral (Amarillovarious (14) Via Crucis (Way of the Cross)


St. Paul Catholic Church (Austin) – Passion of Christ Mime and Way of the Cross


St. Patrick Cathedral (Fort Worth) – Walking Stations of the Cross


University of St. Thomas Chapel (Houston) – Communion and Liberation sponsored traditional Way of the Cross


Pax Christi Houston sponsored Good Friday Walk for Justice



St. James Cathedral (Seattle) – Young Adult Pilgrimage Walk to Five Churches – Begins Holy Thursday – ends After Midnight Good Friday



32nd Annual Good Friday Walk for Justice, Interdenominational procession sponsored by the 8th Day Center for Justice


 Holy Week Faith and Resistance Retreat, a non-violent Good Friday witness at the White House sponsored by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker Washington D.C.

Autism Awareness Month: How to Support the Cause

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

By Marianna Reilly

April 2, 2012 — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 88 children in the U.S. is affected with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) – a statistic that represents an increase of 78% since 2002.

Cardinal Dolan visits the workshop of Possibili-Tees, an organization that employs autistic and developmentally delayed individuals to produce custom screen-printed apparel and promotional items.

This figure is even more troubling in light of new research showing that these children are bullied and emotionally abused by their peers at an above-average rate.

A recent survey of 1,200 parents of autistic children found that 63% of children with an ASD were bullied by their peers. The survey, conducted by the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Interactive Autism Network, found that this bullying is often intended to instigate the emotional “meltdowns” that autistic children can suffer from.

Today, the United Nations recognizes World Autism Awareness Day to “spur action and draw attention to the unacceptable discrimination, abuse and isolation experienced by people with autism and their loved ones,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a written statement.

Throughout the month of April, observed as Autism Awareness Month, Catholic Charities encourages you to get involved in this important cause. Want an easy way to start? Learn about Possibili-Tees, an innovative nonprofit established as part of the work-training program at the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin (MIV), a Catholic Charities sponsored agency. Possibili-Tees produces custom-designed t-shirts and promotional items, and also provides gainful employment and job skills training to young adults with ASDs and other developmental disorders.

In a 2011 article in Autism Advocate, Possibili-Tees founder Tom Siniscalchi lamented the lack of employment opportunities for individuals with ASDs and the hesitance of employers to hire them. “It’s a great workforce, Just untapped,” Siniscalchi said of people with autism.  “After graduation… just a few [young adults with autism] end up landing jobs, and often it’s because their parents know somebody.”

You can support the workers at Possibili-Tees by ordering promotional items or screen-printed apparel for your company, school, or event.

Looking for more ways to learn more and get involved? Check out the resources below, and leave a comment to share your own favorite resources with us.

Autism Awareness Month Resources

Cardinal Hayes Home

Cardinal Hayes Home is a not-for-profit agency pro­viding residential care and treatment for young people who are developmentally disabled. The agency accepts ambulatory and non-ambulatory young people who are severely intellectually disabled. The individuals in the agency’s care are multi-handicapped. Some have a diagnosis of autism, others have cerebral palsy, epilepsy or neurological impairment.

Kennedy Child Study Center

The Kennedy Child Study Center is a nonprofit agency dedicated to assisting very young children who experience significant difficulties in learning and other areas of early childhood development. Additionally, Kennedy Child Study Center provides direct services and supports to parents and other caregivers as they seek to provide a rich family life in which these children can thrive.

How to Stop a Bully

How do we fight the dangerous cycles of bullying and hazing? Psychologist Dr. Susan Lipkins speaks with Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan about something she calls “Vulture Culture,” outlines the warning signs of hazing and offers suggestions for how to halt cruel and destructive behaviors.

Parish resources for Autism Awareness Month, from The National Catholic Partnership on Disability.

“Light it Up Blue”: Join Autism Speaks in replacing one of your lights with a blue light to “shine a light” on the cause.

Carly’s Voice: Breaking Through Autism (book)

Read one of the first books to explore firsthand the challenges of living with autism. At the age of two, Carly Fleischmann was diagnosed with severe autism and an oral motor condition that prevented her from speaking. In Carly’s Voice, her father blends Carly’s own words with his story of getting to know his daughter.

Chamber Music Benefit Concert to support Autism Awareness Month (April 14)