Archive for September, 2013

My Family’s Faith Has Been Tested but Endured

Monday, September 30th, 2013

By Joe Zenkus

John 16:33 “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

The Gospel of John Chapter 16 conveys the importance of sticking to your beliefs and living with and by those beliefs regardless of challenges you may face.

My family’s faith has been tested but endured. We lost three young family members while I grew up and we grieved together and then pushed on.

Two of the three may have been prevented; that is why I am running the NYC ING Marathon for the Team Catholic Charities to help potentially prevent other families from suffering such losses. In addition, I am running in memory of my cousins Marc P. Zenkus (1982-2000) & Shawn M. Hendrickson (1978-1998) who both were lost to early.

The Catholic Charities work to strengthen families through multiple services including preventative services for families struggling with substance abuse and other challenges. I am looking forward to raising money to help families receive counseling, recover and overcome substance abuse.

Personally, on November 3rd of this year, I look to overcoming 26.2 miles for the first time ever. Actually, I have never run more than 10 miles until this week! Now is my time of tribulation, but you will see me again at the finish line in Central Park after overcoming maybe not the world but at least New York.

Help support Joe’s ING NYC Marathon campaign. Click here to find out how: http://www.crowdrise.com/CatholicCharitiesNYC2013/fundraiser/joezenkus

Trying Where Others Have Given Up One Person at a Time

Friday, September 27th, 2013

Read Monsignor Kevin Sullivan’s speech at the 2013 Pierre Toussaint Scholarship Dinner :

 

Thank you.

Tonight, with dubious judgment, you graciously present me this medallion named after a black immigrant, slave and saint.  This white, free-born Amercian sinner is appreciative, humbled, inspired and burdened.

I accept this medallion on behalf of Catholic Charities’ thousands of trustees, staff, volunteers and benefactors, who provide help and create hope to New Yorkers in need – non-Catholics and Catholics alike – black, brown, yellow and white, overwhelmingly poor and vulnerable, each made in the image of God, worthy of dignity, life and love.

I commend Brother Tyrone and the commissioners of the Office of Black Ministry for devoting the proceeds of this dinner to advancing the education of future leaders, both here and in Haiti.  Nothing is more important.

This 50th anniversary year of the March on Washington compels us tonight to not avoid the issue of race, and I include ethnicity.

That we have – and need – a black ministry office, testifies that race continues to haunt us as both society and church.

That we have a large and expanding Catholic Charities bears witness to our failures to implement the dream of many – including Martin Luther King, Pierre Toussaint, Dorothy Day, and not least, an itinerant preacher from Nazareth named Jesus.

Catholic Charities serves overwhelmingly, the poorest and most vulnerable of our society.

Catholic Charities serves overwhelmingly, black and brown New Yorkers.  To not correlate these two is to perpetuate the inequality that makes us less as a nation and less as a church.

Pierre Toussaint’s cause for sainthood is so compelling: personal responsibility and social responsibility, the dignity of work, a vibrant faith that integrates the worship of God and love of neighbor.

We are beneficiaries of Pierre Toussaint’s legacy.  We must accept being its burden bearers.

As a society we need to affirm and advance the dignity of work: in cleaning our buildings, teaching our children, driving our buses, caring for our elderly and infirm, on 700 street corners across this nation where 120,000 day laborers gather – and even far away, in the garment factories of  Bangladesh where workers earn $32 a month.  And yes, even in the neighborhood hairdressers, and the butler in the White House.

As a church we cannot remain satisfied with periodic liturgies that celebrate diversity in song and vestment.  These are necessary and life giving, and insiring.  And it is good and holy that “his eye is on the sparrow and he watches over me.”  But let us also make sure that his eye is on board rooms and markets, workplaces and jails.  Let us make certain that he watches over those places, as well.

As Catholic Charities, we must stop smugly touting the diversity in our waiting rooms filled with black and brown families.  Our boast should be that our board rooms and executive management meetings, our investment managers and vendors are black and brown.  Not yet, I am afraid to say, but I too, have a dream.

And to our neighbors of all faiths and no faith who say “amen” to these points, we invite you one more step.  We will pray and we will worship.  We need a God to inspire, support, and challenge us forward – a God whose image within us and everyone else needs to be acknowledged.  And we say to our neighbors, who may not share all our values, we need to be respected, allowed to be inspired by our faith, and exercise those values as together we create the common good.

I appreciate being here with so many who share an ardent desire to make our diverse world more compassionate, equal and just – especially regarding race.   You and I know that actions that put flesh on that ardent desire get a bit uncomfortable, and generate heat.

Let me end by sharing a refrain from a song by Pink that has haunted me for the past few months:

“Where there is desire
There is gonna be a flame,
Where there is a flame
Someone’s bound to get burned,
But just because it burns
Doesn’t mean you’re gonna die.
You gotta get up and try, try, try.
You gotta get up and try, try, try.
You gotta get up and try, try, try.”

Fellow beneficiaries and fellow burden bearers of Pierre Toussaint and many others, we gotta get up and try.

Thank you.

“We lost everything,” Says This Sandy Survivor. “And when I say everything I mean everything.”

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

DCM Valeriya Osipova

By Alice Kenny

Evelyn Schwabacher, 51, and her son, Dominic, 23, were left with nothing but the bags of clothes they ran out of their home with the day that Hurricane Sandy struck Staten Island.

Ms. Schwabacher lived almost all her life in a two-story home on Zustan St. in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island.  She grew up there.  She returned there and raised with help from her parents her son and daughter after her husband died 18 years ago.  And she said goodbye to her mother there when the elderly woman died a year before Hurricane Sandy stormed through the island.

But when ocean water filled the house all the way up to its second floor destroying all she owned, multiple disaster relief agencies told her she was ineligible for help.

“We lost everything,” Ms. Schwabacher said.  “And when I say everything I mean everything.”

The only belongings that survived were two photos that hung above their fireplace mantle, one of her children and one of her parents taken the day they married.  For days following the flood, her father carried that wedding photo with him wherever he went.

FEMA gave Ms. Schwabacher’s eighty-year-old father enough to enable him to leave Staten Island and its memories behind.  He bought an inexpensive condo in Florida and began a new life.

But FEMA said that Ms. Schwabacher and her son, who together paid her father a nominal $400/month rent, were ineligible for disaster recovery assistance.  So she contacted Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager Valeriya Osipova for help. Ms. Osipova contacted Red Cross.  The agency initially approved, then reversed its approval of rental assistance, citing FEMA’s determination as its reason for denial.  Ms. Osipova also spoke with an attorney Staten Island Legal Services.

Meanwhile, things turned ugly in the apartment that Ms. Schwabacher and her son temporarily shared with a friend after the hurricane hit. So she called Ms. Osipova on a Saturday afternoon to ask that she help her move out quickly. Ms. Osipova worked with the social service agency, Project Hospitality, to immediately obtain and pay for a rental room at Cosmopolitan Hotel for Ms. Schwabacher and her son.

They stayed at the hotel for two weeks.  But they needed a long-range plan.  They could not afford to live on their own with the income Ms. Schwabacher earned as a waitress and he earned working minimum wage jobs.  Similar to her father, she wanted, she said, to put behind her the nightmare of Hurricane Sandy and the hard times that followed.

A cousin living in Stone Mountain, Georgia suggested Ms. Schwabacher and her son move there where rents are cheap and jobs are plentiful.  Since Ms. Schwabacher had no savings, her disaster case manager made the move possible by drawing on Sandy relief funds to cover Ms. Schwabacher’s rental deposit and first month’s rent.

Ms. Schwabacher phoned Ms. Osipova for help on a Saturday afternoon.  Thanks to the support and counseling Ms. Osipova provided, Ms. Schwabacher and her son moved to Georgia, found work and rented an apartment two weeks later.  Ms. Schwabacher and her son drove with a cousin to Georgia.  She interviewed for a waitressing job at a local International House of Pancakes the following day.   She and her son then found an affordable one-bedroom apartment.  The $900 deposit and first month’s rent were paid with Catholic Charities Sandy Relief funds.   Meanwhile, Ms. Schabacher’s son applied for multiple jobs and expects to land one at Wal-Mart.

“It’s still hard for me to believe that within 20 days of calling Catholic Charities for help I was able to land a job, find an apartment and began my life again,” Ms. Schwabacher said.   “Valeriya stood by me; if it weren’t for her, I had no place to go.”

God, Family and Running; Why I’m Running for Team Catholic Charities

Wednesday, September 25th, 2013

By Julie Palomba

Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10) And for that I am truly grateful for God has blessed me with a very full, wonderful life filled with more adventure, love and happiness than I could have ever imagined!

The deepest passions that fill my heart are simple: God, family and running. I see the second two as just an extension of the first.  They are the reasons I get out of bed in the morning. They are on my mind when I go to bed at night. These three passions are what you will find me talking about to anyone who will listen. Mathew 12:34 says: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”. Wow; that is true for me as I am eager to talk to anyone about Jesus, my family and/ or running 24 hours a day.

I grew up in Detroit, lived around the country but now am settled in North Carolina. I was raised Catholic and have come to appreciate this fact more as I get older.  I love being a part of my parish and actively participate in their various ministries. It’s just awesome to feel God’s presence daily, respond to His call and feel it is never too late to grow as a Christian.

My family truly inspires me. I have been married 31 years and have five grown children. None of our children were really runners during high school or college but over the years each one has taken up the challenge of competitive running. We love getting together for running events!

I personally did not start running seriously until about four years ago.  Never being very athletic growing up, my first half marathon was a BIG accomplishment for me. I trained, prayed, trained some more and then God carried me through the last three miles of the last incline. Since then, I have been hooked.

I have lost count of the number of events I have completed but I cherish the moments more than the milestones. Each event has its own story but my favorite events are those that I run for charity or with my family. It makes me feel I am a part of something bigger than just myself.  Through all the pain, injuries and sometimes, even tears, I know it is all good!

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Help support Julie’s ING NYC Marathon campaign. Click here to find out how:  www.crowdrise.com/CatholicCharitiesNYC2013/fundraiser/juliepalombo

Searching for Healthy Soul-Food Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Feast?

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

By Alice Kenny

That’s what forty seniors learned first-hand  – and you can too — thanks to a volunteer partnership held at Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Community Center in Harlem last week.

A guest chef from the local nonprofit organization, Harlem Seeds, demonstrated  how to make quick and yummy  Candy Apple Pie and Roasted Yam Medallions along with this personal favorite among the Brooklyn crowd, Kale with Sundried Tomatoes.

Meanwhile, volunteers from the construction management company, Lend Lease, helped the chef prep, cook and serve the food samples, making sure that each senior brought home their own bag of goodies and recipes.

Lend Lease volunteers also helped man the Catholic Charities Kennedy Center food pantry that provides food to hungry families and gave away bags filled with ingredients and recipes.

Keeping with the spirit of giving, nearly thirty  Lend Lease volunteers helped paint a landscape mural to brighten the yard at Incarnation Children’s Center, a Catholic Charities affiliate and New York City’s only skilled nursing facility that provides specialized care for children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS.  Read more on the  blog below.

Check out these holiday recipes:

Now, as Thanksgiving approaches, how about volunteering your talents?

Click here to view our latest volunteer opportunities and find what inspires you!

Lend Lease volunteers’ mural at ICC transforms space for children living with HIV/AIDS

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

By Lend Lease staff

On September 18th and 19th Lend Lease sent almost 30 volunteers to transform the Incarnation backyard into a completely new space.  An affiliate of Catholic Charities,  Incarnation Children’s Center is the only New York skilled nursing facility that provides specialized care for children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS.

Lend Lease Community Day has been operating since 1996 and occurs in September each year. This much-loved initiative gives employees the opportunity to give back to communities where we live and work. Employees’ skills are matched with community needs, supporting a range of projects that address social, economic and environmental issues. Each year teams of employees design, build, garden, clean, demolish, pack, plan, paint, repair and teach, alongside our community partners and often our subcontractors and business partners.  All employees are encouraged to participate, and since its inception, over 500,000 Lend Lease volunteer hours have been volunteered across hundreds of community projects around the world.

Day One involved prepping the area for painting.  The next day included laying tarps, trimming shrubs, cleaning up the area. Volunteers even spruced up the garden and outdoor window boxes by bringing and planting harvest mums and ivy.

Day Two was a ten-hour + painting extravaganza. Volunteers showed up at 8am and some didn’t leave until well after 6pm. The level of dedication was humbling. It was evident that each person truly wanted to give back to their community and to the children at the Center by making the mural as beautiful and perfect as possible. The Lend Lease volunteer team was amazing – each person took on a task, whether it be an area or a particular color, and completed their assignment with a combination of creativity and caring.

By the end of the day, the plain, drab fence was completely transformed into a garden of Eden! Flower gardens, majestic mountains, lazy shade trees, and a lake with water lilies are among the details that one can find when looking at the new mural. Staff and Incarnation Children’s Center residents alike were both impressed and thankful for the job that Lend Lease did in less than two days Incarnation Children’s Center now has a truly magnificent mural that has permanently improved both the environment that these children live in as well as their quality of life. For an escape from every day worries, we can now use the backyard therapeutic mural to temporarily transport ourselves into an idyllic landscape.

Special thanks to Catholic Charities for bringing Incarnation Children’s Center and Lend Lease together and to the amazing group of volunteers!

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See photos  on Catholic Charities’  Facebook page  and “Like” us!

Honored to Run for Team Catholic Charities

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

By Dr. Jason Hamed

“Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him.”  1 Corinthians 7:17

I am honored to have the opportunity to run with Team Catholic Charities as it allows me to fulfill two purposes simultaneously. First, I get the opportunity to bring awareness to a group that does great things in our world and second, I am able to inspire my children and community to live a healthier lifestyle.

This year will mark the 12-year-anniversary of the passing of my father to cancer. This event could’ve been viewed as solely a tragic event.  Instead I have viewed this for the positives it has brought in my life. First and foremost, the illness of my father strengthened our family bond and deepened my relationship with Christ. Second, it motivated me to be a better doctor, educator and living example of how to implement healthy lifestyle choices in a not-so-healthy world.

My calling is to inspire and educate those around me to live to their fullest potential. My hope is that by living Godly principles my actions will allow others to see in themselves what is truly possible.

I am blessed to have an amazingly supportive wife, Whitney, and three beautiful children, Reese, Boston and Taylor. My wife and I are very active and enjoy triathlons and exercise in general and our children enjoy watching “Mommy and Daddy race.” As we have created solutions to managing a busy two-working-parent household, we our teach our patients how to easily implement exercise and proper nutrition into any busy lifestyle.

On a purely selfish note, I always thought it would be an amazing experience to run the New York City Marathon. I know it will be a day I will remember , as will my oldest daughter, as we will have a wonderful Daddy and Daughter “date weekend” in New York City. (She is already excited to see the Statue of Liberty).

Thank you to Team Catholic Charities for the work you do for those in need and thank you for the opportunity for me to experience an amazing event while fulfilling my life’s purpose.

God Bless.

Help support Jason’s ING NYC Marathon campaign. Click here to find out how: www.crowdrise.com/CatholicCharitiesNYC2013/fundraiser/jasonhamed

Back-To-School Gift Cards for Families Hurt by Hurricane Sandy

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Reaching out to Staten Island students still suffering from Hurricane Sandy, Catholic Charities and its partners distributed 150 Back-to-School $250 Visa gift certificates last week at the Catholic Charities Community Services Center at 120 Anderson Avenue.

Catholic Charities Staten Island partnered at the event with Lutheran Social Services of New York, the Jewish Community Center of Staten Island, Center for Independence of the Disabled New York, and Arab American Family Support Center.

Were you hurt by Hurricane Sandy and are still struggling to recover?

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 the Sandy Referral Line: 855-258-0483

Call Today – Help is Here: Monday – Friday: 9a.m. to 5p.m.

Click here to find a local agency.

Our Prayers for All Hurt by Massive Colorado Floods; Our Help for Disaster Survivors

Monday, September 16th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Our thoughts and prayers are with all hurt by the massive flooding that already damaged nearly 20,000 homes in 15 Colorado counties and, as of last night, left 1,243 persons unaccounted for.

As New Yorkers who struggled through Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene, we know firsthand about coping with natural disasters.

At Catholic Charities, we know firsthand how to help.

Please remember that we are here to help during disasters and every day.

From disaster response professionals visiting parishes to deliver information and resources, to volunteers collecting and distributing food and supplies, to neighbors checking in on neighbors, the entire Catholic Charities community responds to meet the human needs of the victims, providing help and creating hope for rebuilding lives.

Many still struggle to recover from Hurricane Sandy. If you need help recovering from Hurricane Sandy,
please click on this link.

Click here for Help.

Click here to Help.

Help is here.