Archive for the ‘Staten Island’ Category

Celebrating Day Laborers on Three Kings Day

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Ringed with garlands of evergreens and bows, St. Peter’s Church kicked off this year’s Three Kings Day celebration with a mass for the day laborer group, Oberos Unidos de Yonkers and their young families on Saturday, January 7.   The nearly 300-member crowd — with children in tow — then moved to the gym below converted into Santa’s workshop.  Children flocked to a stage brimming with trucks, teddies and toys and families feasted on ethnic specialties.

Organized by Catholic Charities staff and volunteers, the event offered respite for these day laborers who line up daily waiting for work during heat, rain and freezing snow.

It also served as a way to thank the day laborers for their hours volunteering, commuting by bus, train and ferry, to rebuild Staten Island homes destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.

Three Kings Day, widely celebrated in the Hispanic community, commemorates the Twelfth Day of Christmas when the three wise men arrived in Bethlehem to share with the infant Jesus their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.

This annual celebration is part of Catholic Charities’ ongoing involvement with Obreros Unidos of Yonkers.  Catholic Charities educates workers about employment rights and responsibilities.  It provides assistance to prevent exploitation and workplace abuses including help with collecting unpaid wages. It assists with integrating workers into society.  It provides local resources including access to healthcare, emergency food and identification cards.  And it offers a meeting space along with English as a Second Language and computer classes to help immigrants with their goal of acclimating and contributing to their new homeland.

 

Looking for more information about Obreros Unidos de Yonkers?

Click here or call 917-579-9048

Call the Catholic Charities Help Line — (888) 744-7900 — for help finding more services you need.

 

Catholic Charities Helps You Prepare as “Polar Vortex” Grips NY

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

As bitter cold bites New York plunging temperatures to their lowest in decades, Catholic Charities joins with the New York City Office of Emergency Management to help keep you and our fellow neighbors warm.

Warning:  Prolonged exposure to extreme cold weather can be deadly.  The National Weather service forecasts wind chills of near -10 degrees and below-freezing temperatures until Thursday.

Vulnerable populations, such as seniors and infants, are most at risk during extreme weather.  So it’s important to check on friends, family and neighbors if you think they need help getting to a warm place.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages everyone to stay indoors as much as possible.  If your home lacks heat, get to a warm, safe place immediately.

To discourage unnecessary trips outdoors, the NYC Department of Aging asks Catholic Charities and fellow operators of senior centers encourage participants to stay home.  None-the-less, some seniors need meals and a warm place to stay.

  • Catholic Charities opened its senior centers in certain locations including Staten Island.
  • We are also providing extra meals to bring home along with cold weather safety tips to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors.
  • Case managers are calling to check on homebound seniors and high-risk clients during the cold weather.

We urge you to join us in checking on neighbors, friends and relatives.

  • If you are concerned about someone on the street who may be homeless and in need of assistance call 311 and ask for the Mobile Outreach Response Team. The Department of Homeless Services will send an outreach team to the location to assess the individual’s condition and take appropriate action.
  • If your building is cold, check on your neighbors. If you know someone who is vulnerable and lacking heat, help them get to warm places and notify the building manager and/or call 311 to get heat restored. If you see someone with signs of hypothermia such as confusion, shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness call 911 for help and help the person get warm while waiting for help.
  • Landlords and building managers should check their building systems to ensure heat, and check on vulnerable people

Health problems resulting from prolonged exposure to cold include hypothermia, frostbite and exacerbation of chronic heart and lung conditions. Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite:

  • Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition where the body temperature is abnormally low. Symptoms may include shivering, slurred speech, sluggishness, drowsiness, unusual behavior, confusion, dizziness, and shallow breathing. Some people, such as infants, seniors, and those with chronic diseases and substance abuse problems can get sick quicker. Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors who may need assistance to ensure they are adequately protected from the cold.
  • Frostbite is a serious injury to a body part frozen from exposure to the cold. It most often affects extremities like fingers and toes or exposed areas such as ears or parts of the face. Redness and pain may be the first warning of frostbite. Other symptoms include numbness or skin that appears pale, firm, or waxy.

Provide first aid:

  • If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, call 911 to get medical help.
  • While waiting for assistance to arrive, help the person get warm by getting them to a warm place if possible, removing any damp clothing and covering them with warm blankets.

Click here for additional tips on:

  • What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
  • Safe Home Heating
  • Fire safety
  • If You Need Emergency Heating Assistance
  • Shelters and drop-in centers

For more information about cold weather safety and how you can prepare for emergencies call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/oem.

Click here for more information on Catholic Charities emergency food and shelter programs.

Call the Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900.

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

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.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan Reflects on Hurricane Sandy’s One-Year Anniversary

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

By Msgr. Kevin Sullivan

Much has been spoken and written on the one-year anniversary of Sandy.

Three simple thoughts —

Prayers and thoughts for those who lost a loved one from the storm.  This is indeed an irreplaceable loss.

Continued support to those who are still struggling to recover – restoring homes and rebuilding lives.  You are neither forgotten nor are you on your own.

Gratitude for the outpouring of support and solidarity from so many, near and far. Without you little would have been done.

Catholic Charities helped the day after the storm, is helping a year later and will be helping into the future to ensure that each individual and family has the opportunity and help needed to rebuild their lives.  I am immensely grateful to our dedicated professional staff and volunteers.  I am appreciative of our donors who enable our response to happen.

Read the Staten Island Advance for information about Catholic Charities’ new survivor support program

Watch NY1: Find out About Catholic Charities’ New $250,000 Survivor Support Program

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

As we approach the season of giving, Catholic Charities announced Monday a $250,000 program to provide holiday assistance to Staten Island families that are still struggling with Hurricane Sandy.

Catholic Charities will provide gift cards for holiday meals and needed food as well as other warm-weather necessities like coats, blankets and household items through Thanksgiving and the holiday season.  The program is set to begin mid November for families with open disaster case management cases.

“We’re here today and we’re going to be here,” Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr Kevin Sullivan says, “to make sure every family gets the help they need.”

So far Catholic Charities helped over 600 island families cope with the aftermath of the hurricane.

Were you hurt by Hurricane Sandy?

Call the Sandy Referral Line at 1-855-258-0483

Click here for more resources.

Watch the full program on NY1.

 

Sandy Survivors: A Year Rebuilding Lives

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan comforts a Sandy Survivor after the Hurricane Sandy Anniversary Mass of Remembrance at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Staten Island

By Alice Kenny

When Hurricane Sandy battered New York one year ago, its fierce flood waters destroyed homes, livelihoods and communities.

On this sad anniversary and every day, Catholic Charities celebrates Sandy survivors.  From disaster response professionals visiting parishes to deliver information and resources, to volunteers collecting and distributing food and supplies, to neighbors checking in on neighbors, the entire Catholic Charities community has responded to meet the human needs of the victims, providing help and creating hope for rebuilding lives.

Do you need help? 

  • Tune in to WABC-TV Channel 7 Eyewitness News today at 4:00 pm for a #Superstorm #Sandy One Year Later Live Chat.
  • Beatriz Diaz Taveras, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Community Services, and other experts will be answering your questions about assistance needed one year after Sandy.
  • Visit ABC 7 Online  now to submit your questions. *Please note that due to high participation, not all questions may be answered.
  • Contact us by email.
  • Call our Sandy Help Line: 855-258-0483

Join us today at these Sandy One-Year Anniversary Events – All are welcome:

4:00PM Walk Along the Boardwalk
Sand Lane and Fr. Capodanno Blvd (by the Dolphins)
Community resilliency walk along the shoreline
showing that Sand has not defeated us. Kids welcome!

5:00PM Community Supper
Picnic area at Midland and Lincoln Avenue
Delicioud food and music for the whole family.

6:30PM Interfaith Service of Remembrance
Boardwalk at Midland and Loncolin Avenue
Meditation from faith leaders, music and signing,
invitation to share reflections and prayer.

7:45PM “Light the Shore” Vigil
The waterfront closest to your home.We invite you to light a candle with your neighbors near the waterfront closest to your home in remembrance of our losses and to honor the way our community has com together .

Help us:

Catholic Charities Announces $250,000 Holiday Assistance for Staten Island Sandy Survivors

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Msgr. Sullivan speaks with Sandy survivors

By Alice Kenny

Staten Island families can still sign up for Disaster Relief Services to become eligible

Catholic Charities announced a $250,000 program to provide holiday assistance to Staten Island families still affected by Hurricane Sandy.

  • The help will come in the form of gift cards for holiday meals and needed food or other necessities  such as coats, blankets and household items during this Thanksgiving through Christmas season.
  • The focus of this service, to begin in mid-November, are families with  an open case through the disaster case management program available through Catholic Charities and other Staten Island organizations.
  • Case managers remain ready to accept additional referrals and provide help.
  • The announcement coincides with the first anniversary Hurricane Sandy Mass of Remembrance at Our Lady Star of the Sea in Staten Island celebrated by Cardinal Timothy Dolan on October 27.

“As the holiday season approaches, we know this is the time of year we can do more,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities. “Catholic Charities has been on the ground in Staten Island since Sandy hit, thanks in part to the many local pastors who did a tremendous job assessing needs and finding ways to give back to the community. We plan to be in the community for the long haul since we know more work needs to be done. It is our hope that these gifts during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons will alleviate some of the overwhelming physical and emotional devastation experienced by these families. For any family still seeking help, our case managers are ready to help.”

Cardinal Dolan, who has made several pastoral visits to the people and parishes of Staten Island that were affected by Sandy, noted that “Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York has been on the front lines, providing not only relief, but coordination of aid, helping as well to renew the spirit by providing counselors for those hit hard by loss. In the days and weeks immediately following the storm, I saw firsthand their work and those of our Pastors with people whose lives had been so badly impacted by the storm. I know that Catholic Charities will be here continuing to help for as long as they are needed.”

The holiday assistance program is part of the ongoing assistance that Catholic Charities has provided Staten Island communities since last year. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, Catholic Charities:

  • Distributed more than $1 million in direct assistance
  • Converted existing space into a Staten Island collection center to provide food, water, cleaning supplies, blankets, and financial Support to over 1,000 individuals with lasting power issues
  • Mobilized hundreds of volunteers to work reconstruct homes and streets
  • Provided meals
  • Staffed a disaster relief center in Staten Island seven days a week to centralize resources with an intake hotline to answer residents’ questions

Due to ongoing unmet needs facing many Staten Island families, Catholic Charities has committed to helping the borough for the long term.

One of the ongoing initiatives, the disaster case management program, was announced by Governor Cuomo in April and is administered by Catholic Charities. It provides disaster survivors with a single point of contact to develop and carry out a disaster recovery plan by getting access to a broad range of needed resources.

  • Roughly 200 service coordinators are stationed throughout the 13 hardest-hit counties, including New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Orange, Putnam, Rockland, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties.
  • Catholic Charities provides the services directly or partners with local not-for-profits like the Jewish Community Center (JCC) of Staten Island, El Centro del Inmigrante, Lutheran Social Services, the Arab-American Family Support Center and the Center for Independence of the Disabled.
  • In Staten Island alone, nearly 800 families have been provided disaster case management through this program.

Eligibility for the program is open to anyone with an unmet need that arose from or was exacerbated by Superstorm Sandy, even those who have not applied to FEMA for assistance.

Those impacted by the storm can call the Sandy Referral Line, 1-855-258-0483, to find out the location and contact information for their nearest service provider.

A full list can also be found online at  www.catholiccharitiesny.org/disasterrelief

Check out more photos of the event.

From the Shadows to the Light – Undocumented Family Rebuilds Their Life

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

By Teresa Santiago

When Hurricane Sandy began assaulting the Midland Beach area of Staten Island, Jesus Maria Aguilar, his wife Patricia and son Allan did not imagine the devastation that it would leave in its wake.

They lived in Midland Avenue right in the middle of a flood zone area but did not receive any warning or evacuation advisory leading up to the super storm. If warning signs were posted they did not understand because they were not in Spanish. “The day of the storm we were scared because we were feeling the strength and power of the storm. The wind and rain was like nothing we had ever experienced. By the time we decided to leave our apartment the water was already up to our thighs,” recalls Patricia.

The Maria Aguilar family went to stay with a friend on Tompkins Avenue. Less than an hour of being in their friend’s home they received a call from a neighbor informing them that their apartment building was on fire.

The family was not able to see the damage until days later after the flood waters had receded. They were told that the fire department tried to stop the fire but could not get near the building because the flood waters were too high. When the family was able to go back to their home they were totally devastated. “Nothing was left but ashes. We lost everything but the clothes on our backs and the few things we packed to weather the storm,” recalled Jesus.

“I ran into the freezing water towards the building thinking that there was something I could save,” said Patricia. “We work so hard for the few things we have. To see everything that we have worked for gone was incomprehensible. I was stunned.”

The fire occurred when 90 mile per hour winds and rain caused an electrical short in the power line in front of the Maria Aguilar’s apartment building.

For months the Maria Aguilar family lived with their nephew with no help or direction on where to go for help. Since they are undocumented they were not able to receive any federal government aid including FEMA.

“We were desperate. We had no money. I worked when I could find it. Because of my arthritis and diabetes acting up it made it very difficult to find work during this time. A neighbor told my nephew about El Centro del Inmigrante, (El Centro), about the services they provided and that it was all confidential. We immediately went and started our recovery process,” said Jesus.

At El Centro the family met with Catholic Charities disaster case manager Melba Rodriguez and received immediate help, gift cards for food and basic necessities as well as the down payment for their new apartment. What they urgently needed was a refrigerator and air conditioner. The family was using plastic coolers and ice to keep their perishable food cold and edible. In early September, Jesus received $1,300 in Home Depot gift cards to purchase his refrigerator and air conditioner.

El Centro is one of the community-based agencies subcontracted by Catholic Charities to provide a locally-based disaster case manager for each family that have unmet needs related to Hurricane Sandy. El Centro addresses the needs of newly arrived immigrant day laborers and their families. Through immigrant and labor advocacy, educational workshops, labor leadership training, and emergency intervention for hunger, homelessness, health and safety needs, El Centro provides opportunities for economic empowerment, community-building and organizing.

Catholic Charities has a proven track record of managing disaster cases beginning with the 911 terror attack in 2001 then Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in late 2011. The NYS Division of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Management, (OEM), has an existing contract with Catholic Charities to manage the DCM program for the 34 counties that were impacted by the Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and requested that Catholic Charities expand on this experience and manage the long term disaster case management program for survivors of Sandy.

The program is designed to provide a locally-based disaster case manager for each family in the 13 impacted New York counties that have unmet needs related to Hurricane Sandy. By funding networks of community-based agencies, NYS hopes to provide easy access to support residents seeking help and to avoid duplication of services.

Catholic Charities has subcontracted with 20 locally-based not-for-profit organizations with demonstrated expertise in the provision of case management services to serve impacted communities. El Centro is one of these community-based agencies funded.

Through this program Catholic Charities case manager Rodriguez has laid out a long term plan for the Maria Aguilar family that has assessed their immediate and long term situation. She has assisted them in receiving the aid that they need to get back on their feet. “The Maria Aguilar family has gone through an extremely difficult life altering situation, but they are resilient and hard working people,” said Ms. Rodriguez.

“We finally feel that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we are feeling better emotionally, physically and finally feeling hopeful for a good future. We are extremely grateful for the help that Ms. Rodriguez, Catholic Charities and El Centro has given us. I don’t know what we would have done without the help” acknowledged Patricia.

“I thank God everyday that we are alive and that we suffered no injuries, material things can always be replaced. We came to this country from Acapulco, Mexico nine years ago with nothing and we have always worked hard. We will continue to build our lives. It is the only thing we can do,” concluded Jesus.

What You Need to Know About Hurricane Sandy One Year Anniversary Events

Monday, October 21st, 2013

By Alice Kenny

As the first anniversary of Hurricane Sandy approaches on October 29, Catholic Charities joins clergy and laity to celebrate survivors and draw attention to their remaining needs.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be the principal celebrant of a First Anniversary Hurricane Sandy Mass of Remembrance on Oct. 27 at 3 p.m. at Our Lady Star of the Sea R.C. Church in Huguenot, reports the Staten Island Advance.

The cardinal plans to honor the victims, survivors and the relief efforts of the Island’s Roman Catholic churches and Catholic Charities.

Meanwhile, the March of Dimes at its upcoming gala plans to honor Joseph Panepinto, executive director of Staten Island Catholic Charities, and San Diego Padres’ pitcher Jason Marquis with Humanitarian Awards for their work on behalf of Sandy survivors.

Read more in the Staten Island Advance about why Joseph Panepinto received this award.

Check out the Staten Island Advance for a list of upcoming Sandy One Year Anniversary events.