Archive for the ‘Agencies’ Category

It’s NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK – Let’s Celebrate!

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Two Ten Footwear Foundation paint murals to brighten group homes for the mentally ill.

By Alice Kenny

It’s National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, 2014, our opportunity to celebrate our volunteers’ dedication in helping others and encourage others to join the movement.

And while this is Volunteer Week, here at Catholic Charities, where the breadth of the services we offer depends on giving volunteers, every day is Volunteer Day.

We already have celebrations scheduled for our Refugee Resettlement and International Center volunteers on April 22 at 80 Maiden Lane.  And our Alianza division that provides artistic outlets for teens will hold their volunteer celebration on April 24 at La Plaza Beacon.

Join us in celebrating our wonderful volunteers.

Join us in helping change lives.

Getting started as a volunteer is as easy as 1-2-3.

Step One:
Browse our site

Step Two:
Sign up for an orientation.

Step Three:
Roll up your sleeves and join us.

 

 

 

 

Meet Ted Staniecki, Catholic Charities’ Unsung Hero

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Old women with walkers shuffled towards the Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem last month through a foot of snow and ice.  Moms with hungry children in tow herded towards its food bank.

Ted Staniecki, the center’s facilities manager, grabbed a snow shovel with Kennedy Center Director Rodney Beckford,  fellow staff Hector Estrella and Jose Crisostomo, and dug and scraped until they cleared a path.

Times like these are what Ted says he likes most about his job.

It’s Ted’s low key, hands-on approach facing down hurdles that make him a hero among those who know him best.

“I don’t think enjoying my job is work,” Ted says, “so I haven’t worked a day in my life.”

The son of a Waldorf-Astoria doorman, Ted, before transferring his talents to Catholic Charities, worked his way up from middle school teacher and coach to Washington Heights Incarnation School principal.

This was “back in the days,” wrote a Daily News reporter “when the streets outside were so dangerous team members would have to dive to the sidewalk when gangsters pulled out Uzis.”

Challenges Ted braved were so extreme that news outlets across the city covered them.  The Wall Street Journal wrote about how Ted, the founder, driver, assistant couch and all-around godfather of the Incarnation Angels girls CYO basketball team, brought them to city championship in 1997.  Meanwhile, the team shared their home court, the Fort Washington armory shelter, with 1,400 homeless men.

The same year, The New York Times covered a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing public school teachers to provide remedial instruction to students in Catholic school classrooms.  Sounds logical now, but for the prior 12 years, federal law forbid public school teachers from instructing students with special needs on Catholic school property.

So 200 of Incarnation School’s 520 students grades K – 8 would traipse out of the school for remedial help.  They studied in three trailers parked nearby as drivers idled the vans for power and lights.

“We finally got some common sense,” Ted told The Times.

After retiring from Catholic schools, Ted worked as director of the West Bronx CYO Center.  Then, five years ago, he came to Catholic Charities Kennedy Center.

Similar to its Harlem neighborhood, the Center, he says, needed reviving.

“Kennedy Center needed a paint job; it needed pictures; it needed people,” Ted says.

Deacon Rodney Beckford took over as Kennedy Center’s director, joining Ted and a host of supportive staff and administration to transform the once-sleepy center to one now exploding with activity.  From sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, activities ranging from Harambee dance to gospel choirs, from basketball games to social service programs, fill the four-story building with song and action.

Harlem, in turn, is undergoing a similar revival.  The famous Lenox Lounge reopened along with the Red Rooster restaurant.  Congressmen Charlie Rangel lives across the street from Kennedy Center.  Governor David Patterson and former Mayor David Dinkins live nearby.

“Kennedy fits in well helping the neighborhood heal from the tough times it’s been through,” Ted says. “Our staff is balanced – all nationalities – and people who come here just see someone who is here, who is going to help them, going to respect them.”

Read more about Ted in the New York Times.

Read more about Ted  in the New York Daily News.

Need more poetry in your life?

Tuesday, April 1st, 2014

Check out Open Mic Night to hear original work by inspired teens participating in Catholic Charities Community Services Alianza Division.

When:  Thursday, April 3/2014

Where: Alianza Cultural Center, 530 W. 166 St., 2nd floor, NYC 10040

Time:  5:30- 8:00 p.m.

Why:  It’s National Poetry Month — And there’s no better way to celebrate!

Alianza Cultural Center is a multicultural project celebrating Dominican, Latino, and Latin American cultures with a special focus on Afro-Dominican artistic traditions.

The Center’s physical space comprises a second floor gala/exhibition space, two performing arts studios and a large multipurpose space in the lower level, the lobby exhibition space, and a spectacular rooftop terrace.

Mommy, I’m So Proud of You

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

Fox News’ Good Day Street Talk television show celebrates Women’s History Month, tracking amazing women who are breaking barriers and changing the world.

Good Day Street Talk this week interviewed Grace Institute Executive Director Sherry Krull –who discusses how this Catholic Charities affiliate has been empowering women in the workplace through training and job placement – and Grace Graduate Phara Bernadin who shares her inspiring story.

“Women who are coming to us are incredibly hungry,” Ms. Krull tells Fox News.  “They want to make a change in their lives.

“So it’s such a pleasure for us who are working in the organization to get 150 women all in one room from all different backgrounds, all different boroughs, all different experiences and nurture them, teach them the hard skills they need in terms of Microsoft Office, business communication and also the essential skills, the soft skills- conflict resolution, professional management.

“And also nurture their souls a little bit because they’re coming to us from having struggled.

“So it’s a combination of those skills for six months that …makes them incredibly marketable.”

Phara Bernadin, a recent Grace graduate, agreed.

“It did a great deal for me,” she tells Fox News.

“It’s like a family because you go back and the door’s always open.

“And the way my daughter looks at me and things that she says – ‘Mommy I’m so proud of you…and to me no amount of money or anything can compare to that.”

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. 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.

Are you an unemployed woman looking to brush up your skills and find a job?

Click here to learn more about Grace Institute and its tuition-free job-training programs for New York City women.

To watch the Fox News interview, visit the video site and click on Part 4.

Good Shepherd Services Middle-Schoolers Chat with Mayor de Blasio

Friday, March 21st, 2014

A group of 21 middle schoolers enrolled in Good Shepherd Services’ afterschool program, an affiliate of Catholic Charities, visited the inner sanctum of City Hall this week, sitting down with Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray in the bullpen where senior staffers work, reported Annie Karni this week, Tuesday, March 18, 2014 in the New York Daily News.

 Mayor De Blasio spent 20 minutes quizzing the kids from Good Shepherd Services about the program.

 Good Shepherd Services serves more than 20,000 program participants annually.

 This Catholic Charities affiliated agency seeks to address the needs of children and youth growing up in some of the highest-poverty communities of New York City.

 It targets youth ages 0-25 who are disconnected or at risk of becoming disconnected and who are academically, economically and socially vulnerable, lacking the resources, ability to cope and interpersonal skills to make a successful transition to adulthood

 Read the full story in the New York  Daily News.

 Learn more about Good Shepherd Services.

Daily News Exposes Hunger Crisis in New York

Monday, March 17th, 2014


“It’s a quiet crisis,” New York Daily News reporters Ginger Otis and Barry Paddock write in this in-depth exploration of hunger in New York. “In a city of plenty,” they continue in this front page story posted Sunday in the New York Daily News, “a staggering number of people are struggling to feed themselves and their families.”

Learn what they find out when they interview experts including Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, visit Catholic Charities food pantries and meet those we serve:

“Nearly one in five New Yorkers, 1.4 million people, now rely on a patchwork network of 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens across the city to eat.

That represents an increase of 200,000 people in five years — straining the charities that are trying to help…
Yet those working on the front lines of the hunger crisis say it’s still not enough.

‘It’s an astounding surge in need, and it’s because it is so hard for people to find jobs, or find a decent-paying job. They are turning to us for emergency help,’ said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, 63, executive director of 90 free food outlets run by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

‘So many people, too many people, don’t have enough money to pay for rent and also eat.’

At (Catholic Charities’) Washington Heights Ecumenical Food Pantry, bags packed with milk, juice, rice, pasta, tomato sauce, dry beans and other staples fly off the shelves.

Located in a small church vestry, the pantry is open one day a week, serving a steady clientele of 275 people. It could easily help three times as many, if only it had the food, volunteers said.

From soup kitchens in the Bronx, to mobile food markets on Staten Island and in Brooklyn, to pantries in Queens, the story is the same: lines stretching longer and longer, people arriving earlier and earlier, even in the depths of winter.

‘Our Lady of Grace, in the northeast Bronx, saw the number of new households double in November — a 100% increase,’ said Paul Costiglio, spokesman for Catholic Charities. “Across the board, our programs are reporting a continued increase in the number of working people, unemployed and families.”

Read more in the Daily News.

Check out this accompanying Daily News editorial:

Too many New Yorkers, too many good hard-working people, too many children, too many elderly parents, lack the resources to put food on the table.

Too many cannot afford basic nutrition — bread, milk, a piece of fruit, a portion of vegetables, a slice of meat. The stuff of survival, not the stuff of fun or frivolity…

These are our neighbors, family members and friends.

This is not New York, city of limitless opportunity. This is a New York that must do better.

Disabled Teens Take Their Turn Changing Lives

Friday, March 14th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

In a classroom decorated with primary-colored posters detailing how to tell time, multiply and “Follow Your Conscience,” teens with various disabilities from St. Dominic’s School packed boxes with donated food to support Catholic Charities “Feeding Our Neighbors” campaign.

“A lot of these children feel disconnected,” said St. Dominic’s Principal Paul Siragusa. “Helping feed the hungry makes them feel they have an impact on society that they never before could have dreamed of.”

And the 80 students, ages 5- 21, had a major impact. Together they took on the entire food drive, from making posters to studying foods’ nutritional values to soliciting donations to preparing food for distribution. All told, the students collected 500 pounds of food, enough to provide the hungry with 625 meals.

Some of the financially less fortunate children contributed as well, which, Mr. Siragusa said, “was worth more than an adults bringing in an entire bag.”

Located in Rockland County’s rolling hills, St. Dominic’s School provides targeted learning for children with special needs. Its intimate size, including two instructors for every eight students, is balanced by its large reputation. St. Dominic’s draws children from New York City, Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties whose needs are too great to be met by their local schools.

The school is part of Saint Dominic’s Home. This nonprofit Catholic social welfare agency affiliated with Catholic Charities is dedicated to meeting the educational, physical, social, emotional, medical, vocational and spiritual needs of 2,300 individuals who are developmentally disabled, socially disadvantaged and/or vocationally challenged.

Founded in 1878, Saint Dominic’s Home began as a safe haven for immigrant children who had been abandoned on the streets of New York City. Today, St. Dominc’s Home provides person-centered care for individuals with developmental disabilities in the Bronx, Orange and Rockland counties so they can live their lives with hope and dignity in a family-like setting. It prepares and supports foster parents so they can give children, who often have been neglected, abused, or abandoned, a brighter future and a loving home and family. It delivers a continuum of care to adults with mental illness and provides them the greatest level of independence. It grows the minds of disadvantaged preschoolers so they are motivated to excel. It gives children and youth with developmental disabilities and serious emotional disturbance living at home the opportunity to live in a more stable family environment.

And, through St. Dominic’s School, it enables children facing emotional and educational challenges to reach their potential.

The food drive, Mr. Siragusa said, has served as a springboard for a variety of activities. Students now participate in “Letters to the Heroes” where they write letters to soldiers thanking them for their service. They also take part in “Operation Goody Bag,” sending candy and homemade Valentine’s Day cards to first responders.

Despite their personal challenges, the students have learned, Mr. Siragusa said, that “there is always something they can do to help someone else.”

Learn more about St. Dominic’s School and Home.

Catholic Charities Links Agency Leaders with Newly Appointed City Officials

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities and fellow social service organizations hosted a reception at the Human Services Council on East 59th Street. on Wednesday, March 5th, to welcome newly appointed New York City officials, introduce them to leaders of our affiliated agencies and provide a ground-floor opportunity to share our experiences and priorities serving New Yorkers in need.

Formal and informal discussions focused on establishing strong collaborative relationships between the human services and government agencies to effectively tackle the issues of poverty, illness and barriers to success.

New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor for Policy Initiatives Richard Buery and Director of the Office of Operations Mindy Tarlow were some of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s frontline team who spoke with dozens of directors and staff from agencies affiliated with Catholic Charities.

Several other New York City nonprofit leaders including the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, UJA Federation of New York, United Neighborhood Houses, Human Services Council and the United Way helped host and participated in this groundbreaking event.

Lott Seniors Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Catholic Charities Junior Board members partied with seniors at Catholic Charities’ Lott Residence, a home for the elderly in Harlem, in celebration of Mardi Gras.

They danced to a wide range of Bayou beats, feasted on fruit platters, and threw beads while their faces were masqueraded.

“This was a great opportunity for Junior Board members to socialize with our friends at the Lott Residence and spend time with those who are eager to share their stories and listen to ours,” said Catholic Charities Junior Board Member Kellen Dougherty.

“Although our friends at the Lott live in an assisted living facility, the amount of energy and joy that emanates from these residents is incredible, and an inspiration to all of us on the Junior Board.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Lott so we can maintain and strengthen the friendships we have made with so many residents there.”

The event marked one of dozens of volunteer opportunities available this Easter season.

Check them out; Join us and let the good times roll.

Educating the City’s Youth: We Have a Role to Play

Friday, March 7th, 2014

Todd Heisler, AP / New York Times Pool

Congratulations on the splendid work being done by the schools of the Archdiocese in educating the next generation!

Yesterday, Mayor  de Blasio recognized that work in his visit to St. Francis of Rome preschool in the Bronx.  Cardinal Dolan, Dr. Timothy McNiff, head of the Archdiocese Department of Education and Connie McCrory, director of Early Childhood Education were on hand to help bring attention to the topic of Pre-K expansion.  Cardinal Dolan expressed his strong support while not endorsing any particular funding model and Mayor de Blasio expressed a desire to partner with the Archdiocese on this important effort.

It is worth noting that the Mayor specifically singled out the long and fruitful partnership with Catholic Charities agencies in providing for the critical needs of the people of New York.  When it comes to Universal Pre-K, a number of Catholic Charities agencies are already providing great services and are prepared to expand.  Yesterday’s event was a good opportunity to build on this partnership with New York City to provide help and create hope for those in need.

In addition, the proposed expansion of after-school programs for middle school children is another area where a number of our agencies are prepared to step up to the plate and expand service.  Simply put, there is much opportunity to broaden the scope of our work and continue impacting the aforementioned next generation of students.

- Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

Read the New York Times for more