Archive for February, 2014

Valentine’s Day: More Than Hearts, Flowers and Cards

Friday, February 14th, 2014


“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Msgr. Sullivan says, “but go beyond the flowers; go beyond the candy kisses and realize that Christian love reaches out in sacrifice to those in need to try to transform their lives.”

Click to watch his video.

As Winter Storm “Pax” Pounds New York, Catholic Charities Promotes Peace and Safety from This Weather Nightmare.

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Not again.  If weather forecasts are right we may be in for the worst storm of the winter today – and that’s saying something.  Predictions include up to a foot of snow in parts of the Archdiocese.  Gusty winds combined with ice and snow could tear down electrical wires and trigger power outages.  New York City, meanwhile, is preparing to once again be sandwiched by the new winter special – snow/sleet/freezing rain – with a snow season total of four feet expected by the end of the day.

Who’s the joker who named this storm, anyway?  This deadly winter mix that began barreling through the south on Tuesday has already caused at least five weather-related traffic deaths  according to a recent Reuters report.

So New Yorkers beware. Catholic Charities, working with the Office of Emergency Management, is here to help.

New York City’s Office of Emergency Management offers multiple tips for staying warm and safe, from what to do if you lose heat to what to do if you get stuck on the road and are afraid you are developing frostbite.*

If you need help, please call the phone numbers below right away:

If you or someone else is in danger, fell through cracking ice, suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or see a homeless person cold, alone and on the streets:

  • Call 911

If you lose heat or have frozen pipes:

  • Call 311

If you lose power, call your power provider:

  • Con Edison 24-hour hotline: 1-800-75-CONED (752-6633)
  • National Grid 24-hour hotline: 1-718-643-4050
  • Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) 24-hour hotline: 1-800-490-0025
    Learn more about power disruptions

If You Must Drive a Vehicle

Whenever possible, avoid driving in a winter storm. If you must go out, it is safer to take public transportation. However, if you must drive or get caught in a storm, heed the following tips:

  • Avoid traveling alone, but if you do so, let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.
  • Dress warmly. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers.
  • Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions.
  • Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible; these roadways will be cleared first.
  • Drive slowly. Posted speed limits are for ideal weather conditions. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they do not stop quicker than other vehicles.
  • If you skid, steer in the direction you want the car to go and straighten the wheel when the car moves in the desired direction.
  • Know your vehicle’s braking system. Vehicles with antilock brakes require a different braking technique than vehicles without antilock brakes in icy or snowy conditions.
  • Try to keep your vehicle’s gas tank as full as possible.

IF YOU GET STUCK ON THE ROAD:

  • Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety unless help is visible within 100 yards. You could become disoriented in blowing snow.
  • Display a trouble sign if you need help; tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna and raise the hood to alert rescuers.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the car is running so you can be seen.
  • Move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
  • Keep one window slightly open to let in fresh air. Use a window that is opposite the direction the wind is blowing.

*Click here for more safety tips from NYC Office of Emergency Management.

Do you need help?
Call the Catholic Charities Help Line: 888-744-7900, or email us through our contact form.

Cardinal Dolan and State’s Catholic Bishops Support DREAM Act for College Kids

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS Timothy Cardinal Dolan (right) supports creating a state DREAM Act that will allowing state financial aid to go to college kids of undocumented immigrants. Here, Dolan with Mayor de Blasio.

ALBANY — Timothy Cardinal Dolan and the state’s Catholic bishops have come out strongly in favor of creating a state DREAM Act allowing state financial aid to go to the college kids of undocumented immigrants, reports the New York Daily News on February 10.*

“It’s one of our top priorities this year,” state Catholic Conference spokesman Dennis Poust said.

The Catholic Conference, a strong advocate for national immigration reform, views the DREAM Act legislation sponsored by Sen. Jose Peralta (D-Queens) and Assemblyman Francisco Moya (D-Queens) as something the state can do in the interim.

“New York State, with its history of welcoming immigrants, should be at the forefront of these efforts to support immigrant populations who have contributed so much to the vitality of our state,” the conference said in a memo supporting the bill.

The state Assembly passed the measure last year and is expected to do so again soon. The Republicans who help control the Senate oppose the measure. And there are questions whether there is enough support in an election year for passage, even if the measure did make it to the Senate floor.

Do you need immigration or resettlement assistance, do you hope to go to college, have you been defrauded by an immigration practitioner?

Or do you need any other type of immigration help such as

  • Reuniting with your family
  • Obtaining proper work authorization
  • Learning English and civics
  • Preparing for citizenship exams.

Call the New York State New Americans Hotline  at 800-566-7636.

Manned by Catholic Charities staff,

  • We fielded more than 25,000 calls each year
  • We make over 42,000 referrals to not-for-profit service providers
  • We answer calls in over 100 languages

Click here for more information.

*Read the full story in The New York Daily News.

Inside Scoop on the Winter Olympics

Tuesday, February 11th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Congratulations to Team U.S.A.’s Sage Kotsenburg, 20, for scooping the first gold in men’s snowboard slopestyle.

And way to go, Jamie Anderson, for riding clean on the rails and stomping down three high-flying jumps while snowboarding down the mountain to grab the U.S.’ second gold medal of 2014.

Want to learn the inside scoop on the Winter Olympics?

Check out this radio interview with Catholic Charities’ own Joe Panepinto, former member of the US Olympic Planning Committee, former director of CYO and current Director of Staten Island Catholic Charities.

Joe spoke this week on JustLove, Catholic Charities’ weekly radio show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, The Catholic Channel 129.

Teens Team Up to Fight Hunger

Monday, February 10th, 2014

WHITE PLAINS — Christopher Martinez hefted a cardboard box containing non-perishables like Cheerios and Wacky Mac macaroni headed for the hungry, reports Alex Taylor in The Journal News.

“I wanted to come here because I wanted to help people,” said Martinez, 15, a sophomore at Lincoln High School in Yonkers and member of the St. Peter’s Parish. “Just seeing people in the street when I have so much at my house.”

About 50 Catholic and Jewish teens gathered at UJA’s Westchester offices in White Plains on Sunday afternoon to sort and pack a room piled high with hundreds of bottles, cans and cartons of nonperishable food as part of an interfaith food drive. The outpouring of donations were later delivered to local food pantries.

The event held capped off ‘Feeding Our Neighbors: An Interfaith Response, ‘ organized by Catholic Charities and the United Jewish Appeal. This Archdiocesan-Wide Drive to Replenish Food Pantries ran from Sunday, January 26th – Sunday, February 2nd 2014. Its goal was to provide 1,000,000 additional meals for hungry New Yorkers, non-Catholics and Catholics alike.
The documented increase in hunger among New York children and families combined with the Senate’s recent vote for yet deeper cuts in the SNAP food stamp program makes the impact of this campaign, now in its third year, even more profound.

One out of five New York families now struggles to feed their children. As a result, hungry families, children and the elderly are braving snow, ice and freezing temperatures to reach local food banks. Catholic Charities food banks served 48% more meals in December 2013 compared with one year earlier.

At Sunday’s event, William Gregson expressed concern about the number of New Yorkers who go hungry on a regular basis.

“I just want to make sure everybody who is in need can get food,” said Gregson, 15, a student at Horace Greeley High School in Chappaqua.

Check out this Journal News video interview with Catholic Charities Catholic Charities Special Assistant to the Director Luz Tavarez-Salazar who is coordinating the Feeding Our Neighbors campaign .

Gov. Cuomo Declares State of Emergency

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Stay safe. Stay inside. Call 311 if you need help.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency today, Wednesday, February 5, as another storm pounds the region with snow, sleet and freezing rain.

Winter storm warnings are now in effect for the entire area until 6pm. Heavy snow is transitioning to sleet and freezing rain.

Please use extra caution if you must venture out today. Temperatures are below freezing  in our region and even as the snow changes to rain, it is freezing and creating a sheet of ice on all surfaces.

Due to the storm and icing conditions, NYC Department for the Aging closed all senior centers for Wednesday, February 5, 2014.

To ensure seniors’ safety, we ask that all seniors avoid going outside until the storm has cleared and call their respective senior centers and/or 311 to find out more information about post-storm operations.

Meanwhile, The New York City Office of Emergency Management issued a hazardous travel advisory and Mayor Bill de Blasio is urging commuters to use mass transit. However, due to signal problems, there are currently numerous 1, 2, 3 train service disruptions between Times Square and each line’s northernmost stop. For updates, please visit www.mta.info.

But the best advice is to stay inside. Ice associated with the storm can knock down trees and power lines and make walking treacherous.

Check out NYC OEM’s FB page for updates.

Do you need help?
Call the Catholic Charities Help Line: 888-744-7900, or email us through our contact form.

Mourning the Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Gabriel Buoys Agence France - Presse - Getty Images

Catholic Charities joins in mourning the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most widely admired actors of our time, who died on Sunday at the age of 46 of a heroin overdose.

Thanks to appearances in such movies as “Capote”, for which he won a best actor Oscar, The Big Lebowski and The Savages, his ease at combining a somehow laid-back intensity with an offbeat sense of humor made millions of us viewers identify with him as Mr. Everyman.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hoffman was also known for his struggle with addiction.  He said on a 2006 “60 Minutes” interview that he had given up drugs and alcohol when he was 22, according to his obituary in The New York Times.  Then last year he checked into a rehabilitation program for about 10 days after a reliance on prescription pills resulted in his turning again to heroin.

He is survived by numerous family members as well as his three young children.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction there is no need to struggle alone.

Catholic Charities affiliated agencies offer specific programs to help treat and overcome addiction.  We helped treat 8,677 teenagers and adults last year for substance abuse.

Please contact us at:

 

Slide Show:  Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman:  The New York Times

Faces of Hunger

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Yet another day of snow, ice and freezing rain. New Yorkers we know now face the choice of keeping warm or feeding their families.

They commute from food bank to soup kitchen as the Senate poises today to vote on still deeper cuts in the SNAP food stamp program.

For budget crunchers, these hungry children and families are just a number.

For us, they are folks we know, care about and serve.

We invite you to meet a few of the faces of hunger introduced by the Hunger Action Network of NYS.*

Kim

Family of two, a disabled grandmother and her granddaughter

We don’t get enough SNAP benefits to cover me and my granddaughter. We are so grateful for the food pantry. It helps us out a lot. Most of the money we have is from SSI, and it just cover bills to survive. There is no room for any extras.

Kim relies upon SNAP benefits, free lunch programs, food pantries, and church assistance in order to provide enough food for her family.

Kim says:
If we didn’t have these programs, we would suffer a lot more than we do. The struggles from day to day would be a lot worse than they are. We try our hardest, because we know others have needs also.

Faces of Hunger – Kim

Faces of Hunger – Kim

Colleen

Disabled, and living alone.

I receive food stamps and do not get enough to get through the month without this program. Food pantries have definitely subsidized my needs. Without these services, I would probably go hungry most months.

Faces of Hunger – Colleen

 

Laureen

I am poor and disabled. My son lives with me, and grandkids are with me on the weekends. SNAP doesn’t stretch.

Faces of Hunger – Laureen

 

Beth

I am a divorced, diabetic woman. My 19 year old grandson lives with me.

I lost my job as an accountant for my town, because of tax cuts. My trailer is old and falling apart. My van is old and in constant need of repairs. I still have student loans which I have to pay, and my grandson has student loans as well. I have over $125.00 in medicine costs per month.

I get a small amount of SNAP, so I really appreciate the help from the food pantry. I hope to get HEAP this year.

Faces of Hunger – Beth

 

Debbie

Debbie’s household consists of herself and her boyfriend. She only gets food stamps and SSI, and her boyfriend was laid off from work. They depend on SNAP and the food pantry in Cuba as their primary food resources. Debbie feels that these services are “really good for helping anyone” in need.

Faces of Hunger – Debbie

Faces of Hunger – Debbie

 

Katherine (Kathy)

There are ten in Katherine’s household, including five adults and five children. Three of the adults are on disability, and are diabetic. One of the children is a special needs child. One adult works full time in a minimum wage job, and another works two part time jobs. The household has many medical and car repair bills. They receive SNAP benefits, which helps them buy food for the children, and participate in local food pantry programming. The also get HEAP benefits, which help them heat their large house which has especially high heating bills in the winter.

She writes:
“Without these services, we wouldn’t be able to keep everyone fed.

Faces of Hunger – Kathy

Faces of Hunger – Kathy

 

Jenn

Jenn’s family consists of two adults and two children. Her daughter has medical issues, and needs a wheat, gluten, and corn free diet. Her food is, therefore, very expensive. Both Jenn and her daughter are disabled, and their income is limited. The only receive $80 a month for food stamps, and that doesn’t go far enough for all of their nutritional needs. They frequently find themselves out of food and Cuba Cultural Center’s food pantry helps them out a great deal. If they didn’t receive SNAP benefits and go to the food pantry, the children would be eating while Jenn and her boyfriend went hungry.

Faces of Hunger – Jenn

John

John is retired and lives alone. He has no central heat, no water, and only minimal electricity. His house needs a great deal of work. He is happy that he has a roof over his head and can be relatively warm.

John shares:

“Everything, and I mean everything, has become so much more expensive. Being on minimal Social Security Retirement, and having severe arthritis makes it difficult and limits my options. The food pantry makes it a bit easier and give that ever important “hope” to live.”

Because of the food pantry, John doesn’t feel so alone anymore.

John does receive SNAP benefits, and looks forward each month to the day when those benefits come in. Food pantries provide John with “additional nutrition and eases the financial strain of purchasing groceries.” He describes his local food pantry as being “very much like a social gathering, a bringing together of community.” John feels this is “very healthy and healing for all involved.”

Faces of Hunger – John

Faces of Hunger – John

 

Tonya & Family

Tonya is a single mom with three young children. She is unable to work and is applying for disability. Life is difficult, and Tonya struggles every month to make sure that her children’s needs are met. They have benefitted greatly from SNAP, financial and food pantry assistance, and subsidized housing. Without these programs, Tonya would be unable to provide for her family.

Faces of Hunger – Tonya & Family

*Hunger Action Network of NYS

Learn more about SNAP cuts the U.S. Senate plans to vote on today.

Help Us Feed Our Neighbors.

Freedom Isn’t Free

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Deacon Rodney Beckford, Director of Catholic Charities at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem, took on the tough issues of broken families, estrangement from the Church and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. when he shared his personal testimony  at St. Gregory the Great Church in Crown Heights.

Deacon Beckford served as guest speaker at the January 20th event that celebrated the birthday of Dr. King.  The deacon spoke about  growing up in the time of Dr. King and becoming estranged from the Church for a time after the civil rights leader was slain.

The full story is published in this recent issue of The Tablet.

“God always sends a prophet to bring light into darkness,” Deacon Beckford said. “In our time, it was Dr. Martin Luther King.”

 Like many biblical prophets, he said, Dr. King heard the Good News in a dream, and he proclaimed that truth throughout his life. 

“That truth is that freedom isn’t free, that you have to pay the price for your liberty. Dr. King taught us that it is possible to make a way. He made hope our shield and faith our weapon of choice against evil, against sin, against the devil.

“What enabled him to march on?” asked Deacon Beckford. “It was the truth – the truth of knowing that the Lord was his shepherd, the truth of knowing that nothing is impossible for He who walks on water.”

Prayer, he told the congregation, was at the root of everything Dr. King did to bring about social change before his life was cut short.

“But don’t think that because Martin is in his glory that the battle is won,” the deacon said. “The devil is still in the ’hood.”

He spoke about the breakdown of family and society as evidenced by thirty-somethings becoming grandparents, siblings with different fathers, children being raised by grandparents, youngsters wearing improper attire and an overall shift toward self-absorption. 

In these “confused times,” he said the way to “get back on track” is to walk the walk of the One who walked on water, starting with the Word.

He challenged the faithful to learn some Scripture by heart and further memorialize Dr. King by spreading the Good News and volunteering in their local community.

“If you want to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, take what he has done and make something of it,” Deacon Beckford said. “Turn the dream into reality.”

CYO Celebrates Super Bowl as It Helps Feed Our Neighbors

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Cheering and booing as the Seahawks trounced the Broncos, CYO teammates, coaches and kids from Resurrection parish in Rye gathered yesterday at Butterfield 8 restaurant in White Plains to celebrate the Super Bowl and raise funds for the Feeding Our Neighbors campaign.

Over 50 families from Resurrection’s CYO program attended this event they organized and hosted. Together, they raised more than $10,000 for the Feeding Our Neighbors campaign that will enable us to feed 40,000 additional hungry New Yorkers.

The Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) is a division of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. CYO programs across the Archdiocese participated in the Feeding Our Neighbors food drive campaign.

The campaign represents a united effort to fight hunger. It responds 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.

100% of contributions to the campaign will support local food pantries that serve New Yorkers, non-Catholic and Catholic alike.

The NFL season has ended but hunger continues to grow.

Help us Feed Our Neighbors.

Click here and specify “Feeding Our Neighbors” in the comments field.
Or text “CCHOPE” to 85944 to make a quick, easy $10 donation.