Archive for November, 2013

Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center Opens Its Doors

Thursday, November 14th, 2013

Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center (ADCC) officially opened its doors to the community yesterday with an open house featuring performances by children from its classical and folkloric music programs, and from its partner organizations in theater and film. The Center has been operating since this past  September under the direction of Program Manager Altagracia Diloné Levat.

In addition to visual, performing, and literary arts programming, ADDC seeks to build and strengthen community
through the arts by providing capacity building support to small arts nonprofits and actively reaching out to foundation
and other private funders to bring desperately needed funding to the Heights. Housed in the beautiful Alianza Dominicana Triangle Building, ADDC will become a home for local artists committed to enriching the lives of the residents of Northern Manhattan through the arts.

In 2012, the Board of Trustees of Alianza Dominicana reached out to Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York for assistance. The Alianza Board wanted to ensure that there was continuity of services and that the programming stayed in the Washington Heights community and not be lost due to the financial difficulties the organization was facing. Through negotiations with the City of New York and other funders, Catholic Charities Community Services (CCCS) was assigned several contracts that maintained youth and cultural programs in the community for over 1100 youth in the Washington Heights and South Bronx communities.

“Catholic Charities is committed to ensuring that the community continues to receive, without interruption, the youth and cultural programs key to the Washington Heights area. It is important that the funding and programming stay in this community,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “Catholic Charities supports the decision of the Alianza board and looks forward to a continued collaborative partnership.”

Part of this collaboration included CCCS’ commitment to the development of designated space at the Triangle building into a Cultural Center as had been originally envisioned by Alianza Dominicana. Thanks to the support of Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, CCCS was able to get funding through the City Council to centralize the cultural programs that that had been part of Alianza Dominicana for many years, and to promote collaboration among the many cultural service providers in Washington Heights. This collaboration keeps the dream alive of having a cultural center providing art, music, and theater programming free of charge to the community.

“We are setting out to make 165th Street the cultural gateway to Washington Heights, with the Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center playing a major role in the ambitious project,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez. “Our community has so much to offer in the way of music, art, literature, drama and dance, but too few spaces for which to showcase it all. That is why I was pleased to allocate $250,000 so a state of the art facility could house the great groups already doing amazing work in Northern Manhattan. We are keeping Alianza alive through the rich culture that blends so many communities together to make Washington Heights a beacon of the arts in New York City.”

ADCC’s 2013 – 2014 season is a testament to this commitment. For its premier season, the Center has partnered with several well-known cultural organizations in Washington Heights: the Association of Dominican Classical Artists and its Washington Heights Community Conservatory and Camerata Washington Heights, the People’s Theatre Project, KidCinema Fest and Dominican Film Festival, and the Conjunto Folklórico of Catholic Charities Community Services/Alianza Youth Services Division.

“This beautiful space was filled with children learning to make music and joyfully playing theatrical games while learning about healthy habits, all thanks to our partnership with the Washington Heights Community Conservatory and the People’s Theatre Project. These are just two of the many small, arts organizations in Northern Manhattan doing the work with little or no institutional support, said Altagracia Diloné Levat. “It is a great honor to have the opportunity to lead this effort to realize Alianza Dominicana’s vision for a multicultural center– with a focus on Afro-Dominican artistic traditions– in the heart of its Triangle Building. This new beginning would not have been possible without the support of Catholic Charities Community Services and for that, our community is deeply grateful.”

Alianza Cultural Center’s mission is to produce literary, performing, and visual arts programs; to support and strengthen community cultural programs and institutions in Washington Heights and Inwood; and to serve as a home to local artists committed to enriching the lives of Northern Manhattan residents through the arts. Alianza Cultural Center is a multicultural project, celebrating Dominican, Latino, and Latin American cultures, with a special focus on Afro-Dominican artistic traditions in our own programming. The Center’s physical space comprises the beautiful second floor gala/exhibition space, two performing arts studios and a large multipurpose space in the lower level, the lobby exhibition space, and the spectacular rooftop terrace.

From the Philippines to New York, Help Is Here

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

 

From typhoons to hurricanes and pestilence to plagues, the Catholic Church maintains its centuries-established commitment of providing food, shelter and support for those suffering. Now, as tens of thousands of Filipinos whose lives have been destroyed by the devastating typhoon struggle to survive without food, water or homes, Catholic Relief Services is on the ground, providing help.  Meanwhile, closer to home, New Yorkers continue to rebuild lives hurt by Hurricane Sandy.

Newsday tells the story of Susan Gorman, 58, a widow who lost her home to 5 1/2 feet of Sandy-driven flood waters, and Catholic Charities’ continued efforts to help her and other hurricane survivors recover.

Ms. Gorman’s now-empty split-level house in Lindenhurst, Long Island stood across the street from a canal. She applied to the state’s NY Rising Housing Recovery Program — seeking to have the state buy her house — with the help of Isabel Clostre, a disaster case manager for Catholic Charities. Clostre stood next to Gorman outside the gray-shingled house.

“I left a year ago today,” Gorman told Newsday, recalling her evacuation to her mother’s home in Bellmore the day before the storm hit Long Island. “I thought I would be back in three days, and I’ve never come back and will probably never come back.

“This is the home I’ve lived in for 33 years,” she said. “My children were raised here. But I’ve had water in the house since the storm several times. The streets still flood. For me, I can’t come back here . . . I just can’t do it. My husband died a year before the storm. For me to go through this alone, it’s just not easy.”

Catholic Charities, at a recent joint news conference with fellow representatives of the Long Term Recovery Group, a coalition of 145 nonprofit, volunteer and governmental organizations providing disaster relief services to Sandy victims, made it clear their efforts are continuing.

From the Philippines to New York, families confronted by a crisis often feel helpless. Catholic Charities provides accurate and timely information and referrals, and will help advocate for the services required by a family. Catholic Charities crisis experts help individuals and families plan long-term solutions to immediate problems through counseling and financial assistance.

 

Do you need help?

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

Typhoon Haiyan: Help The Philippines Survive and Recover

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013

By Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the millions impacted by the devastating typhoon in the Philippines and their families in the United States.

Catholic Charities knows the strong bonds between immigrants in the United States and their families and friends in their native country and so our support is also for them. Lack of information about their family members is very upsetting. The Catholic Church is always among the first to respond to help because our organizations like Catholic Relief Services (CRS) are already on the ground helping communities.

Learn about CRS’ work in the Philippines

Abandoned as a Child, Mother Fights to Provide Better Life for Her Toddler

Friday, November 8th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Abandoned as a child, Venus Rivera bounced from one group home to another from Queens to White Plains.

“After a while, you’re just like: ‘Where’s my home? Who cares about me? Nobody cares about me. I’m doing this by myself,'” she said.

She and her husband, David Rivera, were determined to build a better life for themselves and their young son, Ares, 3.

But when the gym where Mr. Rivera worked as a custodian cut back on his hours, the mother whose children Ms. Rivera used to care for lost her job and the housing subsidy they received suddenly ended, the Rivera family faced homelessness once again.

“We just have each other,” Ms. Rivera said.  “That’s it.”

But, thanks to Catholic Charities, they were not alone.

 Read their story in today’s New York Times. 

Calling All DREAMers!

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Want to prepare for possible Immigration Reform? Apply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals now if you are eligible.
You may qualify for a work permit, driver’s license, and Social Security number if you:

  • Came to the US before your 16th birthday
  • Have continuously resided in the US since June 15, 2007 and are presently in the US
  • Were born on or after June 16, 1981
  • Are currently in school, or have graduated from high school, or have obtained a GED certificate, or are honorably discharged from the US military
  • Have not been convicted of certain crimes or pose a threat to public safety

Receive FREE legal assistance from Catholic Charities Community Services to determine your eligibility and apply.

Call one of these locations:

  • New York City  (212) 419-3700
  • Staten Island    (212) 419-3700
  • Poughkeepsie   (845) 452-1400
  • Kingston             (845) 340-9170
  • Newburgh          (845) 304-7442
  • Middletown       (845) 343-7675
  • Haverstraw        (845) 942-5791
  • Yonkers               (914) 476-2700
  • New Rochelle     (914) 476-2700
  • Monticello          (845) 794-8332
  • Peekskill              (914) 476-2700
  • Port Chester       (914) 476-2700

 

For other locations and general questions about an immigration matter call the NYS New Americans Hotline:

 1-800-566-7636.
Open Monday-Friday 9am-8pm

 

Defrauded Widower Rebuilds Life

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Eugenio German sold ice cream from a pushcart. Anita Villalongo left her building each day to buy a cone.

Their friendship blossomed into a marriage. Their marriage blossomed into a family; two daughters and a son.

But cancer and corruption almost wiped it all away.  Ms. Villalongo-German, a Puerto Rican American citizen, died of cancer – multiple myeloma – and renal failure on March 26, 2011.  Meanwhile, attorneys the couple had hired to process Dominican-born Mr. German’s application for citizenship defrauded them, leaving Mr. German in danger of deportation.

Fortunately, the Catholic Charities Immigration department stepped in to help.

Read the full story in today’s New York Times.

CYO Shining Stars Honored in Staten Island

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Seth Peloso, Dr. John P. Reilly, Diane Hesterhagen, Michael Coppotelli, Frank DeCandido, Frank Minotti and Ed Broderick pose at the Staten Island Catholic Charities event. (Staten Island Advance/Hilton Flores)

Catholic Charities Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) honored students from across Staten Island for their impact on their schools and communities.

At a brunch at the Hilton Garden Inn, Bloomfield, NY on Saturday, October 26, 40 youngsters were recognized with the Shining Star Youth Award.

Also honored were  Diane Hesterhagen, principal of St. Adalbert’s School in Port Richmond, and Michael Coppotelli, associate superintendent of schools.

CYO provides recreational, cultural and spiritual activities to the young people of the Archdiocese of New York.

Read the Staten Island Advance to learn more.

A Coat of Paint, a Salad of Kale and a Birthday Wish

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Sometimes, all it takes is a coat of paint, a fresh salad or a birthday wish to make a big difference in a person’s life.  Just ask volunteers from Young & Rubicam, one of the world’s largest ad agencies, and Credit Suisse, the multinational financial services holding company.

They rolled up their sleeves in late October to team up with Catholic Charities and serve the mentally challenged, the deaf, the elderly and poor.

Eleven volunteers from Young & Rubicam painted 13 bedrooms plus a dining room at Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope House Terrence Cardinal Cooke Residence, a group home in the Bronx that provides supported housing for deaf and  hard of hearing, mentally ill adults.

Five more Young & Rubicam volunteers threw a birthday party at Catholic Charities’ Lott Residence, a home for the elderly in Harlem, to honor seniors with October birthdays and share the cake, lunch, dancing and festivities with fellow senior residents who have birthdays throughout the year.

Meanwhile, 17 volunteers from Credit Suisse sponsored a Healthy Living Workshop for 50 food pantry clients at Catholic Charities’ Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Community Center in Central Harlem.  Backing up a chef from Just Food, an organization that empowers people to eat better to lead healthier lives, the volunteers cut kale, pulled out pomegranate seeds and helped prepare fresh salads sprinkled with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.  They topped off the day by distributing to the seniors goodie bags filled with the salad ingredients, salad spinners and other prizes.

“I was grateful not just to see how reinvigorated the seniors seemed from this attention but to see the change that happened in volunteers who were giving back,” said Feeding Our Neighbors Program Manager Lizaura German. “So many said they’d donated funds but never before got to rub shoulders one – on- one with those they serve.”

Feeding Our Neighbors Program Director Jeanne McGettigan said, “International finance and a Harlem food pantry are two very different, mostly separate worlds.  It’s hard to say who took away the most from this day, but I saw smiles all around and it felt great.”

Interested in making Quinoa Salad with Kale and Sprouted Mung Beans? 

Get your recipe here.

 

Team Catholic Charities Races Across the Marathon Finish Line, Raises Key Funds for New Yorkers in Need

Monday, November 4th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Ed Gallagher of Team Catholic Charities

Congratulations, Team Catholic Charities, for successfully finishing the  ING New York City Marathon while raising crucial funds for New Yorkers in need!

First-time marathon runner and Leprechaun Transportation Group President Ed Gallagher came in first for Team Catholic Charities, crossing all five boroughs from Staten Island to Manhattan in just three hours and 42 minutes. He was followed by Jason Hamed, Joe Zenkus, Fr. Joseph Tyrrell, Thomas Carney, Julie Palombo, Jerome Prostasio and Ma Teresa Prostasio.

The runners raised $25,000 for Catholic Charities’ St. Nicholas Project to provide coats, blankets and other essential items during the winter months and year round.

The donations they made by soliciting supporters and sweating up and down city streets prove particularly crucial now as New Yorkers’ need grows while safety nets are cut. Congress slashed food stamp allotments by approximately 5-percent on Friday. In New York, more than 1 million elderly people or those with disabilities will feel the impact, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

To thank Team Catholic Charities runners for their hard-earned donations, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan met with Team Catholic Charities runners at a luncheon organized by one of Catholic Charities dedicated and generous trustees.

“I was impressed by the enthusiasm of the runners for running,” Msgr. Sullivan said on his blog.“I was also impressed that they were willing to reach out to their friends and family to ask for contributions to provide help for families in need through Catholic Charities.”

Thank you!

Learn more about our runners and show your support.