Archive for October, 2013

Welcoming Newcomers From Cardinal Dolan

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Cardinal Dolan hits the mark in the WSJ piece today on immigrants in the United States and the concern and role of the Catholic Church. Read it here: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303918804579107131431541914?mod=djemEditorialPage_h

Cardinal Dolan points out three important ways that Catholic Charities works with immigrants: the dissemination of good information to thousands of immigrants each year through the New Americans Hotline, English and civic classes at the new International Center and support to day laborers in Yonkers. Right now, prayer combined with hard work is needed ensure that those rumblings in Washington, D.C. about possible immigration reform and a good Farm Bill will happen. This Farm Bill addresses the need for supplemental meals that so many families rely on. The immigration bill must address a broken immigration system with fair policies that address family unity, a pathway out of the shadows, border security and a legal option for businesses to hire the workers they need. For the individuals and families that Catholic Charities serves, both of these are critical.

Walking but Broken

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

After a dental hygienist from Connecticut rammed her car into a White House barricade earlier this month and joined a growing list of bizarre attacks by those suffering from mental illness, people have become increasingly aware of the need for access to mental health services.

“It’s really the instability of the world that’s shaking up people that used to have been able to keep soldiering on,” Maria Droste Counseling Services Executive Director Betsy Selman Babinecz tells Msgr. Kevin Sullivan during this recent episode on JustLove.

For decades, Maria Droste Counseling Services, an affiliate of Catholic Charities, has provided thousands of clients from the New York metropolitan area with affordable mental health care, Ms. Babinecz says.

Sponsored by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the agency is named for Maria Droste (1863-1899), a Good Shepherd Sister known for her ability to console those who came to her in pain.  Services are provided to individuals (adolescents and adults), couples, and groups experiencing a range of social/emotional stresses due to troubled personal or family experiences, impoverishment or unemployment.

“More and more people are coming in just feeling on edge, keyed up, and not quite sure where their lives are going,” Ms. Babinecz says. “Everybody is walking around with some kind of brokenness.”

Dr. Kenneth Pargament, Psychology professor at Bowling Green State University, joins the conversation, defining what constitutes a mental illness and why its repercussions can affect all of us.

Listen and learn more in this recent episode of JustLove on The Catholic Channel 129, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.

Click here  to contact Maria Droste Counseling Services.

78-Year Old Breast Cancer Patient Beats the Odds & Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

by Teresa Santiago

Edith DiCarmine, 78 has lived in Mahopac for over 45 years and in the same home for 42. She raised 18 foster children and adopted 4 of them 2 brothers and 2 sisters. She was unable to have children of her own but her life was dedicated to being a foster mom, nurturing, caring and loving children that so desperately needed her. It was not easy and she has gone through many challenges and heart breaks in her life, the most devastating the murder of her son Christopher, but she has persevered and has come out stronger in the process.

So when Edith one evening getting ready for bed felt a lump in her breast she thought “oh that’s not good.” She immediately saw a doctor to confirm her finding then a surgeon. She was diagnosed with an advanced stage breast cancer in 2010. For the past three year, Edith has been battling the cancer which has reoccurred 4 different times. She received three operations to remove the malignant mass and lymph nodes. She has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy and was scheduled to begin another round of chemotherapy in late October early November.
On October 29th Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast of the United States with 90 miles an hour gale force winds, flooding, and heavy rain. Edith’s area was hit hard, the road leading to her home and her drive way became a fast rising and flowing river, washing away cars, pavement, and trees and leaving behind deep muddy craters, uneven earth, and big rocks varying in size.
“In the 45 years I have lived in this area I had never seen anything like it. It looked like the surface of the moon with deep holes all over my driveway and front lawn,” remembered Edith. “I was stranded I could not get out.”

The time came for Edith to start her chemotherapy. Her car was at the mechanic because it was damaged. Several volunteers from her church came to take her to her appointments but could not get up the road or the drive way because of the severe damages sustained so she did not go to her chemo appointments. Her church friends came to bring her food and spend time with her but the visit was cut short when they got stuck in one of the craters for hours a tow-truck had to be called to get them out.

Edith was finally able to get her car back from the mechanic but had to park on the makeshift street. Finding herself with no groceries, feeling sick and very weak after chemo and with no help she decided to go to the supermarket on her own. When she arrived home exhausted she parked her car and preceded to, carefully climb up the driveway looking out for the holes. It had snowed and rained and the path was very icy and slippery. She finally got about halfway to her door when she fell spilling her groceries all over the driveway. She tried 2 more times to get up but kept falling. She crawled on her hands and knees until she couldn’t anymore. She began to yell as hard as she could for someone to help her but no one came.

Meanwhile in her next door neighbor’s house Molly their dog was becoming very restless, barking and running from the door to her master. Her owner could not understand why she was so agitated. The dog bit into his pant leg and pushed and nudged him towards the door to go outside. It was then that her neighbor heard Edith’s faint but desperate call for help. When he finally got to her about half hour later her hands, legs and face were blue from the cold and she was developing frostbite. He helped her up and carried her into her home. He then picked up her groceries and brought them inside. “Molly wagged her tail as Edith thanked her and her master for the helped they had given her.

A few days after this incident Edith was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, the chemo this time around was doing more harm than good. She spent weeks in the hospital. The chemo was suspended. “The chemotherapy affected me terribly. I lost my bottom teeth, part of my eyesight, hearing and my hair, remembers Edith. “The doctors took away the chemo and waited for my body to recuperate before I began radiation therapy.”

In early April Edith called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA representatives came out and inspected the damage and they referred her to Catholic Charities. A few days later Edith met Christine McCormack, Catholic Charities’ Disaster Case Manager, Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of NY.

Ms. McCormack provided her gift cards for food and immediately began a recovery plan that includes the reconstruction her driveway. Ms. McCormack researched and identified pavement and construction companies to get estimates. She has received estimates  for the work on Edith’s driveway which will include much needed drains in front of the garage to avoid future flooding. A decision on which company to use has not been made yet however Ms. McCormack has outreached to several Catholic Charities partners to assist with underwriting the cost of the driveway repair including the United Way of Westchester and Putnam County, which has committed $6,000 to $8000 to go toward the repairs with Catholic Charities contributing the remaining amount. Edith also received $600 from FEMA which will also be used.

“Ms. DiCarmine has gone through a very difficult time. She is very frail because of the breast cancer and the chemo treatment but don’t let that fool you. She is a very independent person with great faith. My main concern was to make sure she was safe, getting to the hospital for treatment and beginning the search for a company that would do the work and the resources to pay for it,” recalls Ms. McCormack. “With our Catholic Charities partners and resources I am confident that Edith will have her driveway completed in a couple of months before the winter starts.”

“Christine has been an inspiration to me. She is such a caring person. She is a super, super, super star, in my life. I wish I had met her many years ago. I have learned a lot about myself with Christine about staying positive and not giving up,” recalls Edith.

In the middle of August Edith received great news, a clean bill of health. Her cancer is in remission.“You were a very, very sick lady. We almost lost you a few times,” Edith recalls the doctor telling her. “But after several serious operations, three rounds of chemotherapy that almost killed me, radiation therapy, and Hurricane Sandy, I have survived. I am still here!”

“I am not a Catholic, I was raised Baptist and I am a born again Christian. I have been a member of the Red Hills Baptist Church for over four decades. My church family has been very, very strong in their prayers and faith that I would get better,” says Edith. “At first I was a little apprehensive that Catholic Charities would not assist me because I was not Catholic but that is so far from the truth. They help anyone and everyone in need because we are all God’s children. I don’t know what I would have done without Christine, Catholic Charities and my church family. I would have been lost,” said a grateful and emotional Edith.

Irish Consulate Teams with Project Irish Outreach

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Thanks to significant support from the Consulate General of Ireland, Project Irish Outreach has offered the Irish community settled in New York City and Westchester County frontline advice, counseling and support services for more than 26 years.

Catholic Charities staff are located in Aisling Irish Community Center in Westchester County and at the Catholic Center in Manhattan. Project Irish Outreach provides specialized services to address the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable Irish emigrants.  Services include information and referral, immigration legal assistance and/or representation, social services casework, pastoral services, maternity services, ministry to Irish prisoners,  healthcare information and referral and general support services for individuals, families and the elderly.

Are you an Irish emigrant looking for help?

Please call us at 914-237-5098 or email us at Sr.Christine.hennessy@archny.org

Walk the Walk with Us to Feed Our Neighbors

Friday, October 11th, 2013

The Epiphany School’s Walk and Catholic Charities Feeding Our Neighbors food drive campaign are on a combined mission to strengthen the community while continuing to sustain excellence in Catholic education.

This October 20th marks our 2nd annual participation with the Epiphany School in their “Walk the Walk” event.  There is just one goal for Feeding Our Neighbors: that New Yorkers answer the call to feed those who are suffering in our community.

Feeding Our Neighbors is a united effort to fight hunger.

This campaign is a response to Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s call that we all do our part to replenish the food pantries and soup kitchens in our community that so many families in our community rely on to survive.

Sponsored by Catholic organizations throughout the Archdiocese of New York and managed by Catholic Charities, 100% of contributions to the campaign will support local food pantries that serve New Yorkers, non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

Please join us as we Walk the Walk.

Click here to learn more.

HELP FEED THE HUNGRY!

Many Have Forgotten Sandy Survivors’ Struggles; Day Laborers Remember and Volunteer

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

The truckloads of volunteers that once filled Staten Island streets after Hurricane Sandy struck have dwindled to a halt. But while memories of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation have faded for many, the reality remains stark for Staten Island homeowners still struggling to rebuild.

Fortunately, day laborers have not forgotten.

Better known for their predawn gatherings on street corners as they seek work in gardening and construction, these men and women without legal documentation continue to make the nearly five-hour round trip commute from Yonkers to Staten Island to provide for free their skills and expertise. They tear out five-feet-tall weeds suffocating once-green lawns, repair boilers and strip out mold-laden walls.

Last week, men from Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, a group of day laborers in the Yonkers area served by Catholic Charities, accompanied Catholic Charities staff to install sheetrock for a homeowner in Staten Island’s Midland Beach.

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 in order 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.

Please join us in helping Sandy survivors rebuild.

Volunteers are needed to work with us on Columbus Day to replace damaged chain link fencing at a homeowner’s yard in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island. We also need folks to help us bundle up the damaged fence and stretch and hang a new one.

All tools and equipment will be provided as well as transportation from Manhattan to the site in Staten Island and back. All we ask is that you bring some muscle and your lunch.

Click here for details.

Msgr. Sullivan Blesses Immigration Rally at Brooklyn Bridge

Tuesday, October 8th, 2013

October 5, 2013

 Msgr. Kevin Sullivan

Almighty God today at the foot of this great Brooklyn Bridge we, who gather, call you by different names and yet we know that you are one and you are the creator and sustainer of all.  Bless all the diverse groups of your children who gather to seek your strength and wisdom for fair and comprehensive reform to our country’s immigration laws. May your children from many different lands who now make this great land their home live in the dignity that is inalienably theirs.  As we have asked your blessings of wisdom upon ourselves, enlighten those who stand not on this bridge, but sit watching football games; who are in shopping malls or who are cleaning and fixing their homes. Without their support, our ardent desire for needed change will not happen. Raise their awareness of the needs of our neighbors and inspire their voices for just and humane immigration reform  And we raise up in a special way those immigrants who make this nation great. Bless them and us today, tomorrow’s tomorrow and forever and ever.

Amen.

 

The Daily News reports that “thousands of people marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday – charging the same congressmen and women who let the government shut down are blocking desperately needed immigration reform.”
Check out this local coverage in the Daily News.

The New York Times reports that this rally was one of more than 150 sites in 40 states, trying to pressure Congress, despite the partisan turmoil in Washington, to focus on passing a pathway to citizenship for millions of immigrants here illegally.
For national coverage, check out this New York Times article.

Cutting the Lean from Food Stamps

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and fellow hunger advocates. Photo courtesy of The New York Times.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan said, “Our Catholic inspiration for feeding the hungry can be traced back to Jesus feeding the hungry on a hillside at the end of a long day.” He went on to say, “the need is even more acute now. Hunger among poor New York families is so extensive that hundreds of thousands of children go to bed each night without enough nutritious food to eat. These children wake up hungry and have a hard time concentrating in school. Some of the critically important programs to deal with this are now threatened by cutbacks in funding. Food is a basic human need. Our neighbors cannot be allowed to go hungry.”

 

By Ginia Bellafante

Published in The New York Times October 4, 2013

If you live alone and receive $200 a month in food stamps (the maximum the government allows for a single person and the equivalent of $2.30 per meal), your budget remains unlikely to accommodate much of the healthy, essential, “good” food that in this city and so much of the country has become its own religion, at the levels of both culinary passion and public policy. We hail the fact that greenmarkets accept electronic benefit transfer cards, but availability and affordability are hardly tandem principles.

According to research by the Food Bank for New York City, the price of food in the New York metropolitan area rose by 16 percent between December 2007, the start of the recession, and the end of last year, with 32 percent of New Yorkers in 2012 reporting difficulty paying for the food they needed. Those dependent on government subsidies to supply their tables will feel these increases more harshly as cuts to the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (or SNAP, as the food stamp program is called) go forward.

At the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine last week, advocates for the hungry including Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan initiated an effort to stop planned cuts in food stamps. The clock showed the time left before the cuts went into effect.

Read the full story here.  

 

Hard Working People Trying to Get Back Their Life

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Merriss Morris and Merline Coke

By Alice Kenny

Merline and Howard Coke have been cobbling together make-shift solutions to keep their home livable and their home daycare business functioning ever since Hurricane Sandy slammed the house they rent in Yonkers nearly a year ago.  Hurricane Sandy tore off shingles from its roof and flooding water soaked sheet-rocked walls and wooden floors. The house began to shift and sink.  Damages were determined to be so severe that their landlord filed a claim with his insurance company for $137,000.

Yet now, as the one-year anniversary of the Superstorm approaches, no significant repairs have been made to the house.  This has left the Cokes in a Catch 22.  To afford to move, the Cokes need income from the daycare business that Ms. Coke operates on their rental home’s first floor.  But families have hesitated to send their children to the daycare center until it is fully repaired.  Meanwhile, Mr. Coke’s income in building services barely covers the family’s expenses.  And their savings are nearly depleted.

The Cokes did what they could to shore the house up from the inside.  They dried sodden floors, replaced sheetrock and painted walls and ceilings.  But the roof remains damaged and the house continues to shift. So repaired walls and ceilings crack and floors tilt.

Unfamiliar and uncomfortable with asking for help, the Cokes did not contact Catholic Charities Disaster Case Management until May.  Unfortunately, this was one month past FEMA’s deadline to apply for assistance with rent and money to move. Undeterred, Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager Merris Morris assisted the family with applying for and appealing FEMA’s determination.  To help them move, Ms. Morris helped them successfully apply for funding from the Westchester Department of Social Services, the Bridge Program and the United Way. Catholic Charities also gave the Cokes a $500 gift card to help purchase clothes and supplies for their two teenage children plus the two-year old nephew they have raised since birth.

“It’s tough when you’re in the middle, when you’re not on welfare but don’t earn enough to own your own home,” Ms. Morris says.  “These are hardworking people just trying to get back their life.”

Now six children – all age four and under – participate in Ms. Coke’s daycare center, sampling stacks of primary-colored plastic toys and following posted schedule for playtime, learning, naps and meals.  Toddlers follow and are quickly cuddled by Ms. Coke as she walks from room to room.

Finding an affordable place to move, however, remains difficult.  Her family, Ms. Coke said, “is packed and ready to go…but there is nowhere to go.”  Their search to find a house they can afford with an accessory apartment a landlord will allow for use as a daycare center has, so far, proven unsuccessful.

Their disaster case manager has spoken with realtors and received Catholic Charities’ commitment to help the family with moving expenses once they find a new home.

 

Extreme Makeover for Storm-Wrecked Home

Friday, October 4th, 2013

Lori Van Buren / Times Union

The clamor of an army of hammers and power saws echoed through the woods off a dirt road in a rural upstate town of Grafton last week.

The rustic abode of Susan Swart on Banker School Way was getting a makeover thanks to Catholic Charities and Home Depot. Two years ago, Tropical Storm Irene damaged the home where the 60-year-old woman has lived for 36 years.

“The rain here from Irene was horrendous and a downburst wind gust took a bunch of 70-foot-tall trees down right over there,” Swart said, pointing out her window to a gap in the woods that surround her home. “The water was just flowing down my walls and we had no electricity for two weeks.”

The damage caused wood rot in the roof, damage so bad that two volunteer roofers accidentally put their feet through the roof while walking on it.

Catholic Charities is coordinating repairs.  Catholic Charities of Albany is one of the many agencies providing support to disaster survivors of Hurricane Irene, Tropical Storm Lee and Super Storm Sandy through the New York State Disaster Case Management Program.   The 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).

“I thank God for Catholic Charities and these wonderful workers,” Swart said standing near her front door that was surrounded by climbing morning glories. “It’s a godsend because the roof would not have made it through another winter.”

Check out these photos and read the full story published in the Times Union.

Do you need disaster relief assistance?

Help is here.