Archive for the ‘New York City’ Category

Find Summer Fun & Meaning Here

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

guild 6By Alice Kenny

Looking for a valuable and great way to explore the city this summer? Volunteer with us.

We’re looking for young adults to serve as mentors for the visually impaired teens we serve.

Our instructors will show you how to help these teens live more independently, get ready for work and explore their neighborhoods.

Have questions?  Here are answers:

Q: How long is the commitment?

A: Just 3 weeks.

Q: Can you be more specific?

A: Sure can.  8/10/15 – 8/28/15, Monday – Friday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Q: What’s involved?

A: Each week,  you and the visually impaired teen will spend:

  • Two days at a job we matched the teen with.
  • Two days enjoying activities in the community.
  • One day at our main Catholic Guild for the Blind Office at 1011 First Ave. NY working on computer skills and training for work.

Q: Sounds like some travel.  Who pays for that?

A: We do. Hurray!

 More questions? Click here for more answers.

Struggling Students; Struggling Schools

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

IMG_8532-smBy Alice Kenny

How do we reach children and families at risk effectively and fast?  Community schools that incorporate social service and support are the solution offered by Mayor Bill de Blasio.  And it’s a solution Catholic Charities is bringing to life in the poverty and crime-ridden neighborhood of Washington Heights.

The principle behind it is simple.  Bring services to where the children and their families already are – at school.  The new community schools program pairs year-round social services with education in high-need neighborhoods.  Services range mental health support to homework help and family counseling.

The city will use $52 million to launch 40 Community Schools.  This includes the High School for Media & Communications in Washington Heights that chose Catholic Charities Community Services Alianza Division as its community partner.

The program will work in  collaboration with the principal, the school leadership team and parents.  To ensure that new programs answer real needs more than 80 students, parents, community leaders, school administrators, counselors and teachers teamed up to share their vision for the newly established Community School program at the High School for Media & Communications on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

Funds will be used to increase attendance, credit accumulation, graduation rates and family engagement.

Interested in Community Schools? Read more in Capital New York.

Scammers Beware

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

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By Alice Kenny

Scammers beware.  We’re on to you.  And we’re fighting back.

Catholic Charities just topped off Fraud Awareness Prevention Week.  We gained momentum by collaborating with the Manhattan DA, media and fellow social service agencies. And we took aim straight at the perpetrators of immigration fraud, identity theft and housing and labor scams who make their living defrauding  New York City’s Latino community.

Scammers often find immigrants, particularly those who lack strong English skills or legal documentation as easy targets.  During Fraud Awareness Prevention Week, we ran a well-advertised campaign to keep immigrants from falling into these outlaws’ traps.

Drawing on our expertise running the New York State Immigration Hotline, Catholic Charities Hotline counselors and attorneys manned an anti-fraud telethon phone bank on Wednesday, May 13 and Thursday, May 14, 2015.  Phones rang nonstop.  In all, 530 calls for help were answered, knocking off questions about immigration, identity theft, employment discrimination and housing fraud.  Staff also helped with a town hall event on the following Friday.

“We thank Catholic Charities and their staff for making the phone bank a total success,” said Hildalyn Colon-Hernandez from the Manhattan DA’s office.

In addition to the Manhattan DA’s office, Univision, El Diario, the Office of New Americans and WADO Radio helped promote the event.

And we’re keeping the pressure going. Immigrants with questions are urged to call the Catholic Charities-manned Office of New Americans Hotline at 1 (800) 566-7636.  We can provide assistance in 200 languages.

Calls are still coming in. Want to know more?

Check out this Univision video recap in Spanish.

Read all about it in El Diario.

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!

Catholic Charities Snags City Council GOP Leader Vincent Ignizio for Staten Island Post

Monday, May 18th, 2015

Official NYC Council Photo by William Alatriste

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities lands Vincent Ignizio, leader of New York City Council GOP, as our new leader of Catholic Charities of Staten Island.

As City Council Minority Leader, Mr. Ignizio brings with him a record of huge accomplishments. By the time he steps down this summer to serve as Catholic Charities of Staten Island chief executive officer he will have served on the City Council for eight years.

Why, many ask, would Councilman Ignizio make such a big change at this point in his career?  Some point to challenges he faces as one of only three Republicans in the 51-member chamber.

But ask Mr. Ignizio and the answer he offers is far more basic.  He said he “could not pass up the unique opportunity to lead a non-profit organization that does so many wonderful things for our city and aligns so full with my beliefs.”

At Catholic Charities, reports SILive, he will oversee merging the programs and services of the Catholic Charities Community Services of Staten Island into the Mission of the Immaculate Virgin to create the new organization.  It is part of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of  New York.

Read more in Crain’s New York.

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.

Three Surprise Lessons Learned

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015
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Fordham University Social Work Graduate Student, Elsie Hernandez

Join us below as Fordham University Social Work Graduate Student Elsie Hernandez reflects on lessons learned during the 8-month internship she is completing with Catholic Charities Community Services.

By Elsie Hernandez

I have my colleagues, supervisors, and our clients to thank for their role in my education—I have learned the most by working with them. If I could summarize a year’s worth of learning in three lessons it would be this:

1. Never be afraid of asking questions. Asking the right question can open up a world of possibilities.

For example, a client whose work hours had recently decreased and was on a limited income had her electricity cut off. She did not understand why Con Edison required full payment of $2900 to reconnect services. I watched as a Catholic Charities case manager contacted Con Edison to request a breakdown of the client’s bill. At that point the Con Edison representative noticed that $2400 was added to the account in one day from back charges that had never been included in her account in the last 6 years. Understanding that this was an unrealistic payment for the client to make, the representative asked her supervisor to make an exception. The client was provided a payment plan with a low deposit and services were reconnected the next day.

2. Trust in your client’s resiliency.

We cannot solve every problem. Clients have surprised me with the enormous amount of strength and resourcefulness that they possess. They have expressed hope, faith and optimism in the face of adversity. A college student asked for assistance with paying for the class she needed to graduate. Together we brainstormed for resources she could activate.  This empowered her to creatively come up with solutions to solve her own problem. She will be graduating this May.

3. You never know which of your actions will have the most meaning to your clients.

A client was seeking assistance with paying her utility arrears. I was able to refer the client to the Human Resources Administration (HRA) for help.  Catholic Charities was also able to provide her with emergency food and a winter coat. I thought I did not do enough to help her but the client was moved to tears.

Hundreds Rally for Cost-of-living Adjustments

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

Photo Credit: Human Services Council

“Hundreds of representatives of the human services sector convened on the steps of City Hall on Monday, April 27, 2015, to call for cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in their city contracts,” reports New York Nonprofit Daily. Representatives from Catholic Charities stood among them.

The City relies on nonprofit human services providers to deliver billions of dollars in essential services to communities across the City. Despite a recovering economy and a skyrocketing cost of living, however, these nonprofit organizations have not received a City COLA since 2008.

The Human Services Council of New York (HSC) organized this rally to draw attention to the needs of the sector and the communities that it serves. HSC supports Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to fighting inequality, and wage increases for our sector will advance this cause.

The human services sector plays an important part in improving community health and safety, combating poverty, and fostering equity.

Nonprofit organizations provide job training and placement, early childhood education and after-school enrichment, violence intervention, legal assistance, homeless shelters, community health services, assistance to immigrants, senior services, and much more.

These services empower struggling New Yorkers to overcome a vast array of challenges impeding their ability to succeed. In addition to improving the lives of the disadvantaged, this industry is a major economic engine. In New York City alone, nonprofit organizations deliver nearly $5.5 billion in human services each year through City-funded contracts. The vast majority of human services workers are women and people of color.

 

Read more in New York Nonprofit Daily.

A Thank You Note from A Once-Struggling Teen

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

shaquielleShaquille Vazquez, 19, and now a freshman at Onondaga Community College, credits Catholic Charities for getting him there.  Our Alianza division’s Innovation Diploma Plus High School Learning to Work program (IDP /LTW for those who like initials) provides the support challenged teens like Shaquille need to thrive. 

He asked us to share his thank you letter:

I was solely centered on friendship, girls and playing football but thanks to all of the people involved at the Catholic Charities Learning To Work program I realized that with that kind of mindset I was going nowhere.

As I remember all it took was attending a college trip with the LTW program. At first my advocate begged me to go, I thought that it was really I waste of time but the magic just happen, I felt in love with the college life. I saw myself in every student I had a chance to meet, and then I learned that I was qualified to apply to the school but there was a lot of work to be done.

The first thing I did was becoming a youth leader at the LTW College Access Youth Leadership Program, where I was able to learn and navigated college programming. All the trainings I  attended about college explorations, applications and financial aid process made it easier for my own, plus the support of the all the staff.

My experience at IDP/LTW has helped me grow as a student and more importantly to grow as a young individual.

I thank IDP and Catholic Charities Alianza LTW Program for welcoming me with open arms.