Archive for the ‘Hudson Valley’ Category

More than Just BBall

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

image1By Alice Kenny

Children from “small fries” (short for first and second graders) to “elites” (high school juniors and seniors) just learned last week whether they won CYO’s annual Art and Essay Contest.

Prize winners haled from throughout the New York archdiocese, from Staten Island, through the Bronx, over to Rockland County and all the way up to Dutchess.  Their art depended on their inspiration, from scribbled smiling suns to detailed landscapes and profiles.

And their essays focused on the hot topic of social media – does it bring us together or make us more alone and how can it be used to improve our communities?

Answers were surprisingly insightful.  One contestant, for example, said social networking reconfigures our need for our relationship with God.

Deja George from St. Francis of Assisi School in the Bronx grabbed first place in the essay contest.  Kaitlyn Piotrowski from St. Mary’s School in Dutchess came in second and Kyle Mangan of St. Claire of Assisi School in the Bronx took third. Way to go, CYO!

Cardinal Dolan Hosts All-Star Event

Friday, May 15th, 2015

cardinaldolanccagenciesTimothy Cardinal Dolan hosted an all-star evening on Wednesday, May 13, 2015 at Fordham University at Lincoln Center. The event pulled together more than 300 representatives from the Catholic Charities Federation of 90 independent human services agencies.

“We have some of New York’s most generous and caring people here,” said Telemundo TV’s Nathalia Ortiz who served as the night’s Mistress of Ceremony.

The evening highlighted the Catholic roots and joint mission of agencies spread from Staten Island, throughout the Bronx to the Hudson Valley and the Catskills. Together they provide more than $725 million in services and touch the lives of about 350,000 people each year.

But the event was more than a Catholic celebration of services. Jennifer Jones Austin, executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), served as keynote speaker. The evening included Trustee, Faithful Servant, Meritorious Service and Volunteer awards for nearly 50 people throughout the New York archdiocese. And it focused on how these individuals and agencies multiply the services they provide by working together as a federation.

 

Three Ways to End Hunger Now

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

St. Cecilia’s parishioner, Guadalupe Merino, writes a letter to Congress as daughter, Joyce Merino, naps in her arms.

About a hundred people from nonprofit organizations and churches in New York put pen to paper last month and wrote letters to their member of Congress, urging them to reauthorize the child nutrition bill, writes Margaret Tran, a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Catholic Charities and Bread for the World organized an Offering of Letters at St. Peter’s Church and New York Catholic Youth Day, both in Yonkers, and at St. Cecilia’s Church in East Harlem. Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County in Haverstraw plans to host one in the future.

It is vital that Congress hears from their constituents, especially since over 16 million children in the U.S. don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.

This fall, the legislation that funds child nutrition programs will expire. The bill funds five major programs: National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Program. These programs serve roughly 40 million adults and children nationwide.

1. New York high school students were busy during New York Catholic Youth Day. They were simultaneously involved in a Feeding Our Neighbors food drive (cosponsored by Catholic Charities) and an Offering of Letters. The students and their youth group leaders donated hundreds of pounds of food to local pantries and wrote letters to members of Congress, urging them to support the child nutrition programs.

Youth groups were eager to write letters since they personally know students who struggle with hunger and depend on school meals every day as their only source of nutrition…

2. The senior leaders of the various ministry groups at  St. Cecilia’s also participated in an Offering of Letters… Flor Abad, case manager for Catholic Charities Community Services at St. Cecilia’s, said he was pleased that all the leaders were enthusiastic about advocacy since so many in the community are struggling.

“At St. Cecilia’s food pantry, I see families in need. I hear people who have 5, 6, 7 children in the house and don’t have food,” Abad said.

3. Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County(CCCSR) will host a future Offering of Letters that will engage youth from county parishes to write letters to Congress. The goal will be ambitious – 1,000 letters ahead of CCCSR’s annual September hunger awareness action event.

“Policies and community efforts to increase access and provide education and resources is needed. Our goal is to build a greater sense of community awareness and build an advocacy group to end hunger,” said Martha Robles, executive director of CCCSR.

Read the full Bread for the World blog post.

The Best Way to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

astorservicesposter
By Alice Kenny

Stand up against stigma today, May 7, 2015,  National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.

There are few things sadder than a child struggling with mental health. Yet far too many face this struggle.

Did you know that:

  • One in five children has a seriously debilitating mental disorder? (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Please remember that if you or someone you know is fighting mental disorders, you are not alone.  It is nothing to be ashamed of  and we are here to help.

Our Catholic Charities affiliate, Astor Services for Children and Families, is renowned for the mental health services it provides.  In fact, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray met with Astor staff on April 29th to discuss the value of its services and the experiences of her daughter who suffered from depression.

Check out Astor’s website and Facebook page for suggestions on how to improve your mental health.

If you have any questions or need immediate information, contact Astor by e-mail or by calling (845) 871-1117.

Join us as we proclaim that there is no health without mental health.

Personal Stories About Growing Up in Foster Care

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

After growing up in foster care, Patricia Yates, now 29, says she gained not only sadness but also strength from the challenges she faced.  She draws on this to work as a case manager helping others in need.

“It was difficult growing up without my biological family but I made it with a lot of loving people that saw my potential,” she says in this just-released video by Cardinal McCloskey Community Services, a Catholic Charities affiliate that helped her and fellow children and families in need.

“What it offered,” adds Nerine Hastins, another former foster-care child helped by Cardinal McCloskey, “was it gave me the chance to be the person I am.”

The agency’s success is so great that Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino recently proclaimed “Cardinal McCloskey Community Services Recognition Day.”

Watch Patricia, Nerine and four of their friends served by Cardinal McCloskey Community Services.

Find out why Westchester County named a day after this Catholic Charities affiliate.

Food Pantry or Grocery Store?

Monday, April 20th, 2015

frigBy Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities’ innovative supermarket-style Kingston, New York food pantry just grabbed the spotlight. And that’s no small accomplishment.

The pantry belongs to The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, a network of thousands of food pantries and soup kitchens that serve New Yorkers in need.  They are run by 875 fellow agencies.  And they stretch across 23 counties in northeastern New York.

Yet the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York magazine focused on this state-of-the-art food pantry.  It devoted the magazine’s inaugural Q & A section to interview Tom Kelly, Regional Director of Catholic Charities of Ulster County to find out all about it.

The more you find out about the food pantry, the more it is clear why it was chosen.

The pantry is set up like a grocery store. Hungry clients choose what they need. They fill their grocery bags with farm-stand produce. They add the canned goods their families like. And they grab refrigerated and frozen items from donated commercial-sized refrigerated equipment.

The only difference from a grocery store? There is no cash register, no bill.  That’s right; hungry people in need shop for their families for free.

Even their children have fun as they play in a large waiting room manned by Catholic Charities staff and volunteers that is filled with toys.

“It is a pleasure to see our clients come to our pantry, being treated with dignity by our pantry staff,” Mr. Kelly says, “and leaving with bags of groceries that they hand-picked for themselves and they will consume and enjoy.”

Read more about this Client Choice food pantry in the Regional Food Bank magazine.

CYO Season Wrap Up

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

cyohoops
Cardinal Timothy Dolan traded jokes with parents and cheered with fans during the final wrap up of the CYO basketball season held Saturday, March 28, at Dominican College bleachers in Rockland County.

The archdiocesan-wide playoffs drew crowds hailing from Staten Island to Ulster County and top-playing teams from third through eighth grades.

Check out this photo album of the event.

Teens Team Up to Feed the Hungry

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Teens teamed with Catholic Charities and a local club in Dutchess County to shore up food pantries that serve the hungry, reports Hudson Valley TV Network News Anchor Donna Reyer.

“After the holidays  pantries get depleted so in the spring when there aren’t as many food drives that’s when we kick in here,” says Les McCarthy, a member of the Notre Dame Club of the Mid-Hudson Valley that helped coordinate the drive.

For two weeks children and teens from eleven local elementary and high schools collected food, dropping it off for distribution at Catholic Charities Community Services of Dutchess County.  And last Saturday, March 28, 2015, they marked the campaign’s conclusion with a big celebration at St. Mary’s Church in Poughkeepsie.  Former running back with the NFL Randy Kinder – also a former Notre Dame football player – attended the celebration held right after a Lenten mass.

Children who participated said they learned a lot from the experience.

“One box a day or one can a day,” says Anna Darling,  an eighth grader from St. Martin de Porres High,  “can really change someone’s life.”

Watch this on HVNN Network News.

Cardinal Egan

Friday, March 6th, 2015

remembering-cardinalegan

Today we say adieux to Cardinal Egan.   While we will miss him greatly, we wish him well in his new heavenly home.

Much has already been said and much more will be written on the occasion of his death yesterday at age 82.  Let me share a few items from the perspective of Catholic Charities that may not have been captured elsewhere.

My words are understandably biased.  Cardinal Egan appointed me as Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York shortly after the tragedy of 9/11.  I was privileged to work together with him.   Here are some of the reasons I think he deserves  appreciation for the time he served as Archbishop of New York

He visited our Catholic Charities agencies and programs, meeting regularly and consistently with the people we help and those doing the helping.  Because he was warm and caring with them, all left feeling uplifted and supported, both with the difficult lives they lived and the difficult work they did.   Thank you, Cardinal Egan.

He built the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities,  a dedicated and generous group of New York leaders who undergird  and oversee the support we provide New Yorkers in need.  To attract these talented individuals he passed on his role as Chair of the Board to John Phelan, the former chair of the New York Stock Exchange.

In multiple ways Cardinal Egan encouraged generous philanthropic support for Catholic Charities.  One of his key initiatives involved his own Cardinal’s Committee of the Laity that he intentionally renamed the Cardinal’s Committee for Charity.  He directed the focus of this group of New York business and civic leaders to provide Catholic Charities with financial resources and counsel to amplify the services we provide and the number of people we serve.

To support partnership between the government and the charitable work of the Church he interfaced with officials in a quiet sophisticated way apart from the limelight.  When issues arose that could have damaged this partnership his efforts were effective in preventing actions that could have hurt poor and vulnerable New Yorkers of all religions.

It is also worth noting on this 50th anniversary of the equal rights march from Selma to Montgomery Cardinal Egan’s  presence during the tumultuous sixties in sharing our Church’s vision for the common good.   He was a regular participant with clergy in Chicago, one of  America’s major urban centers, as they worked to overcome racial and social injustice.

In short, Cardinal Egan effectively supported, blessed and encouraged growth of the fair and charitable work of the Church. During his tenure, the 90 affiliated agencies of the Catholic Charities federation grew from providing $500 million to $750 million of services, support that provides help and creates hope for all New Yorkers in need.

And so, again, adieux, fair well, and thank you.  Cardinal Egan, please keep in mind in heaven the needs of those of us still here below – especially, those for whom Catholic Charities provides help and creates hope.

- Monsignor Kevin Sullivan