Archive for March, 2013

People Say Hurricane Sandy Is Over. It’s Nowhere Near Over.

Monday, March 11th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Thirty-foot-high waves crashed through Evelyn’s street “so high, so fast that if we’d stayed another minute we would have been trapped inside,” she said, still breathing fast four months later as she related the event.

Never had Evelyn imagined seeing the ocean out the windows of her Seavers Avenue home, she said.  After all, the two-story semi attached brick and shingled house she  shared with her sons, Christopher, 14, and Nicholas, 18, was surrounded by fellow semi-attached homes that stretched more than a mile to the nearest beach.

But on the evening of October 29, Hurricane Sandy whipped the mighty Atlantic as it commandeered Staten Island roads, washed away homes, trucks and businesses and destroyed nearly everything Evelyn and her family owned.

“People think it’s over,” she said, recalling that night and all the tough days that have come since then.  “It’s nowhere near over.”

She, her sons, and their two dogs, Pluto and Poppy, fought their way through the waves.  They dove into their 2000 Ford Explorer.  And they escaped, literally, with nothing more than the clothes on their back.  Salt water, dead fish and debris filled the basement and first floor of their former home.

If it were not for help from volunteers who drove nearly 1,000 miles from Tennessee to lend a hand coupled with donations from St. Margaret Mary Church and Catholic Charities, she could never have rebuilt her home, she said.

Fortunately, St. Margaret Mary Church in Staten Island gave her sheet rock, insulation, doors, compound, nails, and tape.  They also gave her a $500 gift card to Home Depot from Catholic Charities.

“I now had everything needed to set me up,” she said.

But it was only a start.

This single mom had no money to pay for the rehab.  When she returned to work a week after the storm, her employer, an insurance billing company, told her not to come back, she said.  She could not qualify for unemployment benefits, she added, because the company denied firing her, telling the New York State Unemployment Office that they instead told her to “take all the time she needs to recover.”  Meanwhile, her flood and homeowners insurance still have not processed her claims.

So, while she and her sons squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment paid for, temporarily, by FEMA, she went online seeking help.  On a Facebook site set up for Sandy Survivors she came across five men from Tennessee.  They were looking, they wrote, for a dry place to stay in Staten Island so they could volunteer their rehab skills.   Although the basement and first floor of her Seavers Avenue home had been destroyed, the second floor was dry, she wrote back, and they were welcome to it.

When the Tennessee volunteers arrived – “three guys in their 40s and two guys old enough to be my father” – they discovered that she was one of the only neighbors to have the rehab materials they needed to get to work.  So they chose her home.

For more than a week they worked 12-hour days, tearing out sodden insulation and sheet rock and mucking out flooring.  Then they rebuilt the walls and floors using the brand new building supplies that St. Margaret Mary Church and Catholic Charities had given her.

Her story, however, is far from finished.

“People are scavenging for building materials, people who have it much worse than me,” she said.  “It’s a community; it’s not just me.”

Would you like to help?

Text SANDY to 85944 to make a one-time $10 donation.

Eyewitness News spotlights the “Cupid Shuffle” at Catholic Charities Kennedy Center

Monday, March 11th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

WABC Eyewitness News visited Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Memorial Center on March 5 to spotlight what they called a whole new look at line dancing with a soulful approach.

And why is it being offered?

“Helping isn’t just when you’re in need,” Kennedy Center Director Deacon Rodney Beckford tells reporter Kimberly Richardson. “Helping is also helping you be happy, helping you have fun, helping you stay healthy.”

The class is free and it’s a lot of fun, Ms. Richardson announces as she takes her turn at the “Wobble” and the “Cupid Shuffle.”

“Once you get bitten, that’s it,” instructor Anita Mullin said. “You become a line dance junkie. You want to do it more and more and more.”

A sentiment shared by everyone here at the Joseph P. Kennedy center. What’s the secret to getting the steps down?

“The rhythm, beat, you’ve got to say it in your mind. Feel it in your soul,” Soul Line dancer Robert Perry said.

When I spotted Perry, the 68 year old was busy fluttering around the room. I can see why what’s happening here is contagious, soul line dancing, popular not only here in Harlem, but all over the country.

It involves following a carefully choreographed sequence of steps, think electric slide, only tougher.

The class kicked off in January. Roughly 60 enthusiasts get together for two hours with Anita leading the way to learn the latest moves.

“It’s a certain amount of comradery. It’s like ‘Oh yeah, help me with that step.’ So yeah, it’s a lot of fun,” she said.

And good exercise, part of the mission of Catholic Charities, which runs this center.

Check out the story and video online.

For more information, contact the Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Community Center at 212 862-5401. The class is every Tuesday evening at 6:30.

Calling all CYO basketball players, cheerleaders, runners — and families and friends to cheer them on.

Friday, March 8th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Check out these upcoming events:

Saturday 3/9 and Sunday 3/10 - First Round of Archdiocesan CYO Basketball Playoffs

Ulster County:  John A. Coleman Catholic High School.  Games begin at 10:00 am on 3/9/13.

Staten Island:  CYO-MIV Center.  Games start at 9:00 am on Saturday, 3/9/13 and 1:00 pm on Sunday, 3/10/13.

Bronx:  Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. 3/10/13. Game times TBA.

Orange County: 3/9/13. Game times TBA.

Saturday 3/1657th Archdiocesan CYO Cheerleading Competition at Fordham University 

The competition begins at 10:00 am

Saturday 3/16 - CYO Developmental Track Clinic and Relays at Fordham Preparatory School *

Clinic will be held with four-time Olympic Athlete (and CYO Board Member) Aliann Pompey.  Registration begins at 8:45 am


Saturday 3/16 and Sunday 3/17Second Round of Archdiocesan CYO Basketball Playoffs

Rockland County:   Pearl River High School and Dominican College.  3/16/13. Game times TBA.

Staten Island: CYO-MIV Center. Games start at 9:00 am on Saturday and 1:00 pm on Sunday


Saturday 3/23 - Archdiocesan CYO Basketball Championships

Held at the CYO-MIV Center and St. Joseph by the Sea High School in Staten Island.

Games at the CYO-MIV Center start at 9:00 am.

Games at St. Joseph by the Sea High School start at 11:00 am

Events are held for existing players on existing teams EXCEPT for the Track Meet/Clinic on 3/16.

*The track meet/clinic welcome athletes of all experience levels, with the focus strongly placed on education and participation.  The event is open to all CYO Teams throughout the Archdiocese of New York, and individuals may register and represent their parish.  All age levels and abilities are encouraged to attend.

Need more information? Call Sarah Masterson at 646-794-2062

Would you like to volunteer?  Click here.

Boos for Hurricane Sandy; Cheers for Its Victims

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Synchronizing flying Dutchmen’s with back flips and shouts, cheerleaders raised spirits and funds for a good cause at the 2013 Cheerleading Competition held on Saturday, March 2, at the largest youth sporting event staged every year on Staten Island.

This year marked the 57th annual Cheerleading Competition held by Catholic Charities Catholic Youth Organization, CYO, in Staten Island.  But in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that destroyed the homes and businesses of families and friends throughout much of this borough, the cheerleaders decided to do something different.  Instead of competing, high school cheerleaders performed in a Cheer for Sandy exhibition that donated proceeds to benefit victims of the storm.

Nearly one thousand parents, grandparents and friends filled the stands at the College of Staten Island’s Sports and Recreation Center in Willowbrook.

“This is like the Super Bowl, the World Series for Staten Island,” said Kristine Romano, cheerleading coach with our Lady of Queen Peace.

Elementary-aged cheerleaders held their regular annual competition earlier in the day.  Winning teams – including Our Lady Star of the Sea that placed first for both the Elementary Varsity and Deb Regular competitions – then performed their routines with high school cheerleaders during the afternoon Cheer for Sandy performance.

“We try to teach our kids that there is a connection; that it’s not just sports,” said Joe Panepinto, executive director of Staten Island Catholic Charities.  “And they’ve been wonderful.”

Click here if you missed the competition but still want to help

Watch the video on NY1.

Read more in the Staten Island Advance.

Washington Heights Teens Stage Their Own Red Carpet Event

Tuesday, March 5th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Mimicking Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Daddy Yankee and more, middle school-aged students took charge of their first ever “Red Carpet”  in Washington Heights, an Oscar-inspired event held on February 15 by La Plaza Beacon Afterschool Program.   The students – 90 in total – also directed, worked as stage hands and videotaped the program.

La Plaza Beacon is part of Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division.  During after-school hours, La Plaza Beacon’s  school-based community center transforms a local school into a thriving neighborhood center. It provides a safe, supervised place where youth go for recreation, cultural activities, homework help and tutoring.

“The Red Carpet event was magic,” La Plaza Beacon Director Leonardo Dominguez said.  “We gave them technical support and advise; they learned how to put together a huge event like this by themselves.”

Drone warfare: Is this a road we want to go down?

Monday, March 4th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Karen J. Greenberg, a published author and Director of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law School, dissects controversial legal theories behind drone warfare on JustLove, the Catholic Channel, aired on Saturday, March 2, 2013.

Part of the Obama administration’s campaign against terror, drone warfare is a targeted killing program that relies on unmanned aircraft operated by remote control from a network of secret bases around the world.

Efficiency – the ability to save American lives by not putting troops in harms’ way and, in theory, reducing civilian casualties – are positive aspects of this relatively new military method, Ms. Greenberg says.

But drones’ ability to create “a reign of terror,” to heighten anti-Americanism and to promote the probable use of predator drones by other countries on American targets, she adds, makes us question “is this a road we want to go down?”

Listen to her conversation with Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities New York, broadcasted on March 2, 2013 on  JustLove, The Catholic Channel 129, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.

JustLove, aired weekly on Saturday at 10 am EST, features conversations about the church in the world to promote a more just and compassionate society.

Hurricane Irene: Families Still Grappling with Frustration, Despair – and Gratitude

Friday, March 1st, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Nearly two years after Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee swept through New York State, families still struggled with exposed walls and wires, no running water and no heat.

The Benson family from Lake George who were recently profiled on CBS 6 Albany News spoke of their  frustration, aggravation and despair – and their gratitude that relief is finally here.

Catholic Charities New York, in recognition for its success helping victims within the Archdiocese of New York recover from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee, now provides disaster recovery services beyond the Hudson Valley.  The Catholic Charities Disaster Case Management Program  is working directly with the New York State Office of Emergency Management and partner agencies to provide ongoing case management for nearly 3,000 families spread over 34 counties from Long Island to the Canadian border.

While many short-term goals following these massive storms have been met, Catholic Charities is now focusing on helping families with long-term case management to rebuild their homes and lives.

“We’re just thankful that someone is worried about us,” Mr. Benson said.

Whether it is Superstorm Sandy, Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee, Catholic Charities is here to help.

Day in and day out, Catholic Charities provides a vast range of programs and services for those struggling with long-term needs or confronting sudden disaster. Our federation of agencies offers a variety of specialized assistance designed to meet individual needs, non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

Looking for help?