Archive for April, 2013

Volunteers Make Nonprofit Work Happen

Tuesday, April 30th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Giselle Harrington speaks with Msgr. Kevin Sullivan at volunteer luncheon.

Giselle Harrington speaks with Msgr. Kevin Sullivan at volunteer luncheon.

Catholic Charities honored seven Refugee Resettlement Department volunteers who together logged more than 700 volunteer hours in just over half a year at an internationally themed volunteer luncheon held Friday, April 26.

“There’s a great need for nonprofit work,” said Giselle Harrington, a volunteer who worked in Egypt and Palestine teaching children with mental disabilities before returning to the United States and volunteering with Catholic Charities.   “Volunteers really make nonprofit work happen.”

Similar to fellow volunteers that attended the luncheon, Ms. Harrington helps refugees pull together resumes and find work.

“I use my understanding of how to network,” Ms. Harrington said, “so that people can become employed, self sufficient and have a good result.”

Would you like to help change a life?

Click here to find a volunteer opportunity tailored just for you.

Looking for free staff plus a chance to help teens this summer? Sign me up.

Monday, April 29th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Looking for free staffing plus a chance to help teens this summer?
Check out Catholic Charities Community Services/Alianza Division’s Summer Youth Employment Program. We are looking for organizations and agencies to partner with us to provide young people with a worksite and great work experience.

What’s in it for you?
All told, we plan to train and place more than 900 teens and young adults, ages 14 — 24, at worksites throughout New York City from July 8th until August 17th. And this is all at no cost to you.

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provides New York City teens and young adults with summer employment and educational experiences that capitalize on individual strengths, develop skills, and connect youth to positive adult role models.

SYEP provides six weeks of entry-level jobs at community-based organizations, government agencies and private sector businesses. In past years these have included hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, law firms, museums, sports enterprises and retail organizations.

What’s in it for youth?

The Summer Youth Employment Program is designed to:

  •  Emphasize real-world labor expectations
  •  Increase awareness of services offered by local community-based organizations
  •  Provide opportunities for career instruction, financial literacy training, academic improvement, and social growth

CCCS works in collaboration with the Department of Youth and Community Development and pays participants the minimum wage pay rate of $7.25.

Don’t worry. We provide the salary; you provide the site.

How about some details?

As an SYEP worksite, you agree to:

  • Provide productive and meaningful work assignments
  • Provide training and supervision
  • Communicate regularly with the community-based organization that placed participants to ensure accurate compensation for hours worked
  • Evaluate your participants and provide adequate feedback and mentoring
  • You can choose Group 1: Youth ages 14-15 or Group 2: Youth ages 16-24.
    • The younger group works 15 work hours plus 5 educational hours per week. (No worries: We provide the educational hours.)
    • Group 2 can work 25 hours a week.

Sounds great. How do I sign up?

Click here to learn more and become a worksite.

Click here to learn more.

Localized, Streamlined Support for Sandy Survivors

Friday, April 26th, 2013

Press conference spotlights services for Sandy survivors.

By Alice Kenny

Chinatown political representatives joined TV correspondents and reporters at a well-attended press conference held at the Greater Chinatown Community Association (GCCA) in Manhattan’s Chinatown last week to broadcast the latest information about disaster support for Sandy survivors. Watch it on SINOVISION.net.

GCCA, an affiliated agency of the Archdiocese of New York’s federation, is one of more than fifteen social service agencies extending from Long Island to the Hudson Valley providing local, on-the-ground disaster case management to individuals with homes or businesses damaged by Superstorm Sandy.  The New York State Disaster Case Management Program, managed by Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York, will provide approximately 200 disaster case managers to assist individuals and families in the 13 -New York counties hardest hit by Superstorm Sandy.

Designed to streamline support and avoid frustration and confusion, the Disaster Case Management program whittles down the complex system of disaster support by providing survivors with a single point of contact to access a broad range of resources. This allows people still reeling from the loss of jobs and homes to avoid the need to search out multiple organizations that might respond to their various needs.

Instead, survivors can relate their experiences and submit their documentation to a single, local disaster case manager who guides them through the recovery process.  This local model of providing disaster support proves particularly important in sites such as Chinatown where language barriers can make a confusing process almost overwhelming.

An elderly Chinese man with lung cancer whose basement apartment flooded during the storm, for example, received different answers from so many different places that, by the time he came to GCCA for help, “he was ready to give up,” said GCCA Executive Director Chih-Ping (Andy) Yu.

Disaster case managers are both advocates and expediters for those affected by Sandy. They first assess if clients have unmet needs related to the storm. If people qualify, they will be assigned a disaster case manager to serve as a single point of contact for all  assistance, including that coming from insurance companies, private organizations, and government. Then, based on interactions with the client, the service coordinators create individualized disaster recovery plans, including advocating for access to needed services, coordinating benefits, and making referrals for services outside the scope of disaster case management. Existing Sandy-related services for individuals and families range from direct federal and state grants and Small Business Administration loans to insurance advocacy and referrals to the range of not-for-profit and voluntary programs that have been established.

The program is modeled after a similar one run by Catholic Charities Community Services in 34 counties across New York State following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

Eligibility for the Sandy New York State Disaster Case Management Program is open to anyone with an unmet need that arose from or was exacerbated by Superstorm Sandy, even those who have not applied to FEMA for assistance or are undocumented.

Looking for help?

  • Call 1-855-258-0483 to find the location nearest you.
  • Are you a Sandy survivor who lives in Chinatown or speaks a Chinese dialect and is looking for help? Contact the Greater Chinatown Community Association, 105 Mosco Street, New York, NY 10013.  Phone 212-374-1311. www.gccanyc.org.
  • For a full list of disaster case management locations, visit www.catholiccharitiesny.org.

Day Laborers Clean Aqueduct Trail

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

The day laborer group, Obreros Unidos De Yonkers, joined a small army of volunteers to clean a neglected section of the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park Trail on Sunday.

Together, more than 200 volunteers picked up trash along a neglected section of the Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park Trail that runs through the Lenoir Nature Preserve in Yonkers.

Catholic Charities has an ongoing involvement with Obreros Unidos De Yonkers, a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area. Through this program, Catholic Charities educates workers on employment rights and responsibilities to prevent exploitation and abuse. Catholic Charities also assists in the collection of unpaid wages, helps workers get access to healthcare services, provides emergency food, and offers English language and computer skills instruction.

Looking for more information about Obreros Unidos de Yonkers?

  • Call (914) 375-6729/48 or visit the office at St. Peter’s Church basement, 91 Ludlow Street, Yonkers, NY  10705
  •  Call the Catholic Charities Help Line — (888) 744-7900 — for help finding services you need.

 

Hurt By Hurricane Sandy?

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013


Whether you have applied for FEMA or not
— even if you were not eligible or were denied assistance — there may be local

resources available for you.

A trained, compassionate case manager can work one-on-one with you to:

  • Answer your questions about recovery
  • Develop a plan to address your needs
  • Connect you with appropriate community resources
  • Determine what financial assistance may be available to you
  • Advocate on your behalf with service and benefit providers

 

Call Today – Help is Here:
855-258-0483
Monday – Friday: 9am to 5pm

 

Find Local Agencies for Help:

 

AGENCY                                                                                                                PHONE #
Bronx
BronxWorks 718-508-3194
Brooklyn
Arab-American Family Support Center 718-643-8000
Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled 718-998-3000
Brooklyn Community Services 718-310-5620
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens 718-722-6223
Council of Peoples in Organization (COPO) 718-434-3266
Good Shepherd Services 718-522-6910/6911
Greater Chinatown Community Association 212-374-1311
Lutheran Social Services of New York 718-942-4196
Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty 212-453-9539

917-281-6721

Shorefront YM-YWHA of Brighton- Manhattan Beach 347-689-1880/1817
Manhattan
Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York 855-258-0483
Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY) 212-674-2300
Greater Chinatown Community Association 212-374-1311
Queens
Arab-American Family Support Center 718-643-8000
Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens 718-722-6223
Center for Independence of the Disabled, New York (CIDNY) 646-442-4186

212-674-2300

Greater Chinatown Community Association 212-374-1311
Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty 212-453-9539

917-281-6721

SCO Family of Services 516-493-6457/5284
Staten Island
Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York 718-447-6330, ext. 121
El Centro del Inmigrante 718-420-6466
Lutheran Social Services of New York 718-942-4196
JCC of Staten Island 718-475-5213
Long Island
Catholic Charities Diocese of Rockville Centre 631-608-8883/8882
Family Service League 631-369-0104
FEGS Health and Human Services 516-496-7550, press 6
Lutheran Social Services of New York 516-483-3240 ext. 3030
Hudson Valley
Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of New York 845-344-4868

 

Additional service providers will be included.

The New York State Disaster Case Management Program is operated by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York under the auspices of the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, Office of Emergency Management and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Immigration Reform; This Suffering Must End

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
  • USCCB President says “Now is the Time” to reform Immigration system
  • Cardinal Dolan: Suffering of migrants must end
  • Path to citizenship should be improved and families protected
  • Enforcement should guarantee basic human rights

WASHINGTON—Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), said in a press conference April 22 that “now is the time” to fix the nation’s broken immigration system. Cardinal Dolan was joined at the press conference by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Migration, and Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the USCCB Communications Committee.

“Let me say that now is the time to address this issue,” Cardinal Dolan said. “As we speak, persons are being deported and an untold number of families are being divided. Human beings continue to die in the American desert. This suffering must end.”

The Catholic Church has much to bring to the national immigration debate, given the Church’s history as an immigrant church, “having welcomed successive waves of immigrants into our parishes, social service programs, hospitals, and schools,” Cardinal Dolan said. “As the pastor of the archdiocese of perhaps the greatest immigrant city in the world, I know first-hand of the many efforts that have been made by the Catholic community on behalf of immigrants.”

He pledged to work with the sponsors of immigration legislation and other elected officials to “achieve the most humane legislation possible.”

In responding to recently introduced immigration reform legislation in the U.S. Senate, Archbishop Gomez said the path to citizenship for the undocumented population in the legislation is welcome, but certain requirements “could leave many behind, remaining in the shadows.” He pointed to the need to shorten the time required to obtain citizenship, to create a more generous cut-off date and to remove barriers for low-income migrants as areas for improvement.

“If the goal [of the legislation] is to solve the problem in a humane manner, then all undocumented persons should be able to participate,” Archbishop Gomez said. He also cited the need to preserve family unity as the cornerstone of the nation’s immigration system.

“This is an important and historic moment for our country and for the Church,” Archbishop Gomez added. “We hope to see the legislation improve and advance, and we will work toward that end. The lives of millions of our fellow human beings depend upon it.”

Bishop Wester said that eligibility for permanent status and citizenship should not be contingent upon enforcement initiatives contained in the legislation. He warned that it could create a de-facto permanent underclass.

Bishop Wester also called for the immigration debate to be conducted in a “civil and respectful” manner.

“This is an important and historic moment for our country and for the Church,” Archbishop Gomez concluded. “We hope to see the legislation improve and advance, and we will work toward that end. The lives of millions of our fellow human beings depend upon it.”

 

Statements on Immigration Proposal

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

April 17, 2013

Continuing the Catholic Church’s longstanding commitment to immigration and immigrants, Archbishop Jose Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles and the chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, released a statement of welcome for the immigration reform legislation introduced in the Senate today, and pledged that the bishops would carefully examine the bill and work with Congress to ensure that any final measure respects the dignity and basic human rights of migrants.

Here is an excerpt:

The introduction of U.S. Senate bipartisan legislation to reform the U.S. immigration system was welcomed by Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, chairman of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on Migration, April 17. Archbishop Gomez also pledged that the U.S. bishops would carefully examine the legislation and work with Congress to ensure that any final measure respects the basic human rights and dignity of migrants.

“I welcome the introduction of legislation today in the U.S. Senate,” Archbishop Gomez said. “The U.S. bishops look forward to carefully examining the legislation and working with Congress to fashion a final bill that respects the basic human rights and dignity of newcomers to our land—migrants, refugees, and other vulnerable populations.”

Click here  to read the whole press release on the USCCB website.

 

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, also released a statement to the press today.

Here is his statement:

“We are hopeful that the filing of a bipartisan Senate bill on immigration seems, after many years, to make comprehensive immigration reform a real possibility. We appreciate the hard work of the group of Senators and others that has made this possible. We note with special pride and recognition the work of so many Catholic organizations and the leadership of the Bishops on this issue. While we are hopeful and supportive, the bill is complex and requires careful analysis. There will be opposition. We look forward to making suggestions for improving the bill to even better reflect our longstanding concerns for family unification, a fair, legal immigration system, protections for temporary workers, effective, yet humane border security and due process in enforcement. We look forward to working in partnership with many to ensure that this reform happens for a straightforward reason—concern for the common good of the nation and the well-being of individual immigrants and their families.”

Click here to learn how Catholic Charities is helping immigrants and their families.

A House of Widows and Orphans

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

The widow of a Marine Corps veteran, Tanya Thomas knows firsthand about pain and loss.  Now as the first graduate of Grace Institute’s training program for female veterans and their families — and after landing a job at Catholic Charities — she knows firsthand about success.

Tanya stands among a growing number of female veterans and military spouses who took a disproportionate hit during the Great Recession and battle homelessness and unemployment.  The jobless rate for female Gulf-War era veterans has been stuck at nearly 13 percent for the past two years, according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“I can’t begin to say what a gift going to Grace and getting a job like this is,” Tanya said.  ”It’s helping me build my future.”

When her children were ages two and four, her husband, U.S. Marine Dwight Anthony Thomas, developed a blood clot in his brain that ultimately killed him.

“I couldn’t get out of bed after he died,” she said.  “It’s been a long road back to enjoying life.”

Then, when cancer claimed the life of Tanya’s aunt, Tanya took on the responsibility of caring for her aunt’s two teenage children as well.

“We were basically a house of widows and orphans,” Tanya said.

Fortunately Tanya found out about Grace Institute’s new program for female veterans and their families.  The program, supported in part by the Clinton Global Initiative, is designed to hone the work skills of this underserved population and help them find work.

“Our commitment to helping veterans, never ends” says Jolene Varley Handy, a Senior Director at Catholic Charities affiliate Grace Institute, “because their commitment to our country never ends.”

Grace Institute, an affiliate of Catholic Charities, has been providing tuition-free job training skills for women in New York City for more than 100 years.  Its new program builds on this success, working with military spouses and family members to assist with the transition to life off the base. The program includes intensive computer, business writing and career development classes.  It prepares students for interviews and draws on its extensive lists of employer contacts to arrange meetings and help the students find work.

Tanya landed a job as soon as she graduated.  She now works as a case manager with Catholic Charities.  Her specialty is eviction prevention.

“It’s great to assist people with empowering themselves,” she said.  “I know the feeling from both ends.”

 

If you are a female veteran or family member and would like to take advantage of this tuition-free program:

If you are a New York City employer seeking trained, responsible staff:

Produce the Produce – Earth Day and Every Day

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Tapping in on Earth Day, Catholic Community Services of Rockland (CCSR) announces its new program, “Produce the Produce,” to  provide fresh fruits and vegetables to hungry children, individuals and families in Rockland County.

“Whether from our own garden, grocery store or farmers’ market, most of us have access we take for granted to fresh fruits and vegetables but those who are poor have neither,” says CCSR Executive Director Martha Robles.

“We are committed to changing that in Rockland with a bold, new and fresh initiative,” she adds, “and invite you to be a part of it.”

This proactive effort will put more freshly grown fruits and vegetables on the tables of people in need. CCSR plans to serve as a catalyst to engage other community and parish gardens to participate in “Produce the Produce.” It will also provide a central location where local farmers markets and common citizens can donate the fresh fruits and vegetables they grow.

The idea was “cultivated” from CCSR’s expanded community produce garden in Haverstraw.  This garden, nicknamed the “Garden of Love,” has already produced more than 6,000 lbs. of fresh produce that has been distributed to participants enrolled in the CCSR Food Pantry.  In addition to saving money, the Garden of Love helps feed our neighbors, while teaching members of the community how to grow their own food.

To ensure a plentiful bounty, Produce the Produce was formally announced during the 4th Annual Blessing of the Soil at CCSR, 78 Hudson Ave in Haverstraw, New York on April 20.

During this time of economic uncertainty, demand for the food pantries continues to grow.  Fortunately, the CCSR garden’s bounty is growing as well. Seasonal cooking demonstrations that use fresh ingredients from the bounty harvested from the “Garden of Love” are also available.

At Catholic Community Services of Rockland, no one is ever turned away from receiving food. Please call 845 942-5791 during office hours to register.

How to prepare for Immigration Reform

Friday, April 19th, 2013

A. There are no new laws yet and no “amnesty;” all we have is a bill in the Senate. We are still many months away – if not longer – from any new laws. You can call us at 800-566-7636 to check if the law has passed; we’ll be happy to answer your calls.This Senate bill is only the beginning of the conversation. There will be a long time before we know what the law looks like and before anyone can apply for anything.

B. In the meantime you should NOT give anyone money to any notarios, agencies, or lawyers to prepare an application or help them gather documents. Once we have a Comprehensive Immigration Reform law, there will be many reliable agencies that will help people at low cost and possibly for free. There is no need to pay thousands of dollars now.

C. What you can do is to start preparing on your own in the following ways:

i. Start a box of important documents, including:

1. Identity documents;

2. Evidence of when you came to the US and how long you have been here (the date in the Senate bill is December 31, 2011, but people who came to the US before they turned 16 and would qualify under the DREAM Act, should gather evidence for all those years that they have been living in the US);

3. Evidence of any trips outside the US after the first arrival (evidence of how long they were out of the US);

4. Evidence of work (particularly if you are an undocumented farm worker) or education in the US (particularly for DREAM Act-eligible kids);

5. Copies of any applications you already made to INS/USCIS;

6. If ever arrested, get the certificates of disposition, because those with certain serious convictions will not be eligible to apply, so you will need to show those conviction records to an attorney.

ii. Start learning English;

iii. US citizens who want to sponsor their siblings should talk to an attorney about starting the process now (the Senate bill proposes to eliminate visas for siblings of US citizens – but that can also change);

iv. Save money because there will be penalty fees (Senate bill says $2000, to be paid in stages) in addition to application fees.