Archive for the ‘Staten Island’ Category

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.

78-Year Old Breast Cancer Patient Beats the Odds & Hurricane Sandy

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

by Teresa Santiago

Edith DiCarmine, 78 has lived in Mahopac for over 45 years and in the same home for 42. She raised 18 foster children and adopted 4 of them 2 brothers and 2 sisters. She was unable to have children of her own but her life was dedicated to being a foster mom, nurturing, caring and loving children that so desperately needed her. It was not easy and she has gone through many challenges and heart breaks in her life, the most devastating the murder of her son Christopher, but she has persevered and has come out stronger in the process.

So when Edith one evening getting ready for bed felt a lump in her breast she thought “oh that’s not good.” She immediately saw a doctor to confirm her finding then a surgeon. She was diagnosed with an advanced stage breast cancer in 2010. For the past three year, Edith has been battling the cancer which has reoccurred 4 different times. She received three operations to remove the malignant mass and lymph nodes. She has undergone several rounds of chemotherapy and was scheduled to begin another round of chemotherapy in late October early November.
On October 29th Hurricane Sandy devastated the East Coast of the United States with 90 miles an hour gale force winds, flooding, and heavy rain. Edith’s area was hit hard, the road leading to her home and her drive way became a fast rising and flowing river, washing away cars, pavement, and trees and leaving behind deep muddy craters, uneven earth, and big rocks varying in size.
“In the 45 years I have lived in this area I had never seen anything like it. It looked like the surface of the moon with deep holes all over my driveway and front lawn,” remembered Edith. “I was stranded I could not get out.”

The time came for Edith to start her chemotherapy. Her car was at the mechanic because it was damaged. Several volunteers from her church came to take her to her appointments but could not get up the road or the drive way because of the severe damages sustained so she did not go to her chemo appointments. Her church friends came to bring her food and spend time with her but the visit was cut short when they got stuck in one of the craters for hours a tow-truck had to be called to get them out.

Edith was finally able to get her car back from the mechanic but had to park on the makeshift street. Finding herself with no groceries, feeling sick and very weak after chemo and with no help she decided to go to the supermarket on her own. When she arrived home exhausted she parked her car and preceded to, carefully climb up the driveway looking out for the holes. It had snowed and rained and the path was very icy and slippery. She finally got about halfway to her door when she fell spilling her groceries all over the driveway. She tried 2 more times to get up but kept falling. She crawled on her hands and knees until she couldn’t anymore. She began to yell as hard as she could for someone to help her but no one came.

Meanwhile in her next door neighbor’s house Molly their dog was becoming very restless, barking and running from the door to her master. Her owner could not understand why she was so agitated. The dog bit into his pant leg and pushed and nudged him towards the door to go outside. It was then that her neighbor heard Edith’s faint but desperate call for help. When he finally got to her about half hour later her hands, legs and face were blue from the cold and she was developing frostbite. He helped her up and carried her into her home. He then picked up her groceries and brought them inside. “Molly wagged her tail as Edith thanked her and her master for the helped they had given her.

A few days after this incident Edith was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, the chemo this time around was doing more harm than good. She spent weeks in the hospital. The chemo was suspended. “The chemotherapy affected me terribly. I lost my bottom teeth, part of my eyesight, hearing and my hair, remembers Edith. “The doctors took away the chemo and waited for my body to recuperate before I began radiation therapy.”

In early April Edith called the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA representatives came out and inspected the damage and they referred her to Catholic Charities. A few days later Edith met Christine McCormack, Catholic Charities’ Disaster Case Manager, Catholic Charities Community Services, Archdiocese of NY.

Ms. McCormack provided her gift cards for food and immediately began a recovery plan that includes the reconstruction her driveway. Ms. McCormack researched and identified pavement and construction companies to get estimates. She has received estimates  for the work on Edith’s driveway which will include much needed drains in front of the garage to avoid future flooding. A decision on which company to use has not been made yet however Ms. McCormack has outreached to several Catholic Charities partners to assist with underwriting the cost of the driveway repair including the United Way of Westchester and Putnam County, which has committed $6,000 to $8000 to go toward the repairs with Catholic Charities contributing the remaining amount. Edith also received $600 from FEMA which will also be used.

“Ms. DiCarmine has gone through a very difficult time. She is very frail because of the breast cancer and the chemo treatment but don’t let that fool you. She is a very independent person with great faith. My main concern was to make sure she was safe, getting to the hospital for treatment and beginning the search for a company that would do the work and the resources to pay for it,” recalls Ms. McCormack. “With our Catholic Charities partners and resources I am confident that Edith will have her driveway completed in a couple of months before the winter starts.”

“Christine has been an inspiration to me. She is such a caring person. She is a super, super, super star, in my life. I wish I had met her many years ago. I have learned a lot about myself with Christine about staying positive and not giving up,” recalls Edith.

In the middle of August Edith received great news, a clean bill of health. Her cancer is in remission.“You were a very, very sick lady. We almost lost you a few times,” Edith recalls the doctor telling her. “But after several serious operations, three rounds of chemotherapy that almost killed me, radiation therapy, and Hurricane Sandy, I have survived. I am still here!”

“I am not a Catholic, I was raised Baptist and I am a born again Christian. I have been a member of the Red Hills Baptist Church for over four decades. My church family has been very, very strong in their prayers and faith that I would get better,” says Edith. “At first I was a little apprehensive that Catholic Charities would not assist me because I was not Catholic but that is so far from the truth. They help anyone and everyone in need because we are all God’s children. I don’t know what I would have done without Christine, Catholic Charities and my church family. I would have been lost,” said a grateful and emotional Edith.

Many Have Forgotten Sandy Survivors’ Struggles; Day Laborers Remember and Volunteer

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

The truckloads of volunteers that once filled Staten Island streets after Hurricane Sandy struck have dwindled to a halt. But while memories of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation have faded for many, the reality remains stark for Staten Island homeowners still struggling to rebuild.

Fortunately, day laborers have not forgotten.

Better known for their predawn gatherings on street corners as they seek work in gardening and construction, these men and women without legal documentation continue to make the nearly five-hour round trip commute from Yonkers to Staten Island to provide for free their skills and expertise. They tear out five-feet-tall weeds suffocating once-green lawns, repair boilers and strip out mold-laden walls.

Last week, men from Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, a group of day laborers in the Yonkers area served by Catholic Charities, accompanied Catholic Charities staff to install sheetrock for a homeowner in Staten Island’s Midland Beach.

Catholic Charities has an ongoing involvement with Obreros Unidos De Yonkers, a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area. Through this program, Catholic Charities educates workers on employment rights and responsibilities in order to prevent exploitation and abuse. Catholic Charities also assists in the collection of unpaid wages, helps workers get access to healthcare services, provides emergency food, and offers English language and computer skills instruction.

Please join us in helping Sandy survivors rebuild.

Volunteers are needed to work with us on Columbus Day to replace damaged chain link fencing at a homeowner’s yard in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island. We also need folks to help us bundle up the damaged fence and stretch and hang a new one.

All tools and equipment will be provided as well as transportation from Manhattan to the site in Staten Island and back. All we ask is that you bring some muscle and your lunch.

Click here for details.

Hard Working People Trying to Get Back Their Life

Monday, October 7th, 2013

Merriss Morris and Merline Coke

By Alice Kenny

Merline and Howard Coke have been cobbling together make-shift solutions to keep their home livable and their home daycare business functioning ever since Hurricane Sandy slammed the house they rent in Yonkers nearly a year ago.  Hurricane Sandy tore off shingles from its roof and flooding water soaked sheet-rocked walls and wooden floors. The house began to shift and sink.  Damages were determined to be so severe that their landlord filed a claim with his insurance company for $137,000.

Yet now, as the one-year anniversary of the Superstorm approaches, no significant repairs have been made to the house.  This has left the Cokes in a Catch 22.  To afford to move, the Cokes need income from the daycare business that Ms. Coke operates on their rental home’s first floor.  But families have hesitated to send their children to the daycare center until it is fully repaired.  Meanwhile, Mr. Coke’s income in building services barely covers the family’s expenses.  And their savings are nearly depleted.

The Cokes did what they could to shore the house up from the inside.  They dried sodden floors, replaced sheetrock and painted walls and ceilings.  But the roof remains damaged and the house continues to shift. So repaired walls and ceilings crack and floors tilt.

Unfamiliar and uncomfortable with asking for help, the Cokes did not contact Catholic Charities Disaster Case Management until May.  Unfortunately, this was one month past FEMA’s deadline to apply for assistance with rent and money to move. Undeterred, Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager Merris Morris assisted the family with applying for and appealing FEMA’s determination.  To help them move, Ms. Morris helped them successfully apply for funding from the Westchester Department of Social Services, the Bridge Program and the United Way. Catholic Charities also gave the Cokes a $500 gift card to help purchase clothes and supplies for their two teenage children plus the two-year old nephew they have raised since birth.

“It’s tough when you’re in the middle, when you’re not on welfare but don’t earn enough to own your own home,” Ms. Morris says.  “These are hardworking people just trying to get back their life.”

Now six children – all age four and under – participate in Ms. Coke’s daycare center, sampling stacks of primary-colored plastic toys and following posted schedule for playtime, learning, naps and meals.  Toddlers follow and are quickly cuddled by Ms. Coke as she walks from room to room.

Finding an affordable place to move, however, remains difficult.  Her family, Ms. Coke said, “is packed and ready to go…but there is nowhere to go.”  Their search to find a house they can afford with an accessory apartment a landlord will allow for use as a daycare center has, so far, proven unsuccessful.

Their disaster case manager has spoken with realtors and received Catholic Charities’ commitment to help the family with moving expenses once they find a new home.

 

“We lost everything,” Says This Sandy Survivor. “And when I say everything I mean everything.”

Thursday, September 26th, 2013

DCM Valeriya Osipova

By Alice Kenny

Evelyn Schwabacher, 51, and her son, Dominic, 23, were left with nothing but the bags of clothes they ran out of their home with the day that Hurricane Sandy struck Staten Island.

Ms. Schwabacher lived almost all her life in a two-story home on Zustan St. in New Dorp Beach, Staten Island.  She grew up there.  She returned there and raised with help from her parents her son and daughter after her husband died 18 years ago.  And she said goodbye to her mother there when the elderly woman died a year before Hurricane Sandy stormed through the island.

But when ocean water filled the house all the way up to its second floor destroying all she owned, multiple disaster relief agencies told her she was ineligible for help.

“We lost everything,” Ms. Schwabacher said.  “And when I say everything I mean everything.”

The only belongings that survived were two photos that hung above their fireplace mantle, one of her children and one of her parents taken the day they married.  For days following the flood, her father carried that wedding photo with him wherever he went.

FEMA gave Ms. Schwabacher’s eighty-year-old father enough to enable him to leave Staten Island and its memories behind.  He bought an inexpensive condo in Florida and began a new life.

But FEMA said that Ms. Schwabacher and her son, who together paid her father a nominal $400/month rent, were ineligible for disaster recovery assistance.  So she contacted Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager Valeriya Osipova for help. Ms. Osipova contacted Red Cross.  The agency initially approved, then reversed its approval of rental assistance, citing FEMA’s determination as its reason for denial.  Ms. Osipova also spoke with an attorney Staten Island Legal Services.

Meanwhile, things turned ugly in the apartment that Ms. Schwabacher and her son temporarily shared with a friend after the hurricane hit. So she called Ms. Osipova on a Saturday afternoon to ask that she help her move out quickly. Ms. Osipova worked with the social service agency, Project Hospitality, to immediately obtain and pay for a rental room at Cosmopolitan Hotel for Ms. Schwabacher and her son.

They stayed at the hotel for two weeks.  But they needed a long-range plan.  They could not afford to live on their own with the income Ms. Schwabacher earned as a waitress and he earned working minimum wage jobs.  Similar to her father, she wanted, she said, to put behind her the nightmare of Hurricane Sandy and the hard times that followed.

A cousin living in Stone Mountain, Georgia suggested Ms. Schwabacher and her son move there where rents are cheap and jobs are plentiful.  Since Ms. Schwabacher had no savings, her disaster case manager made the move possible by drawing on Sandy relief funds to cover Ms. Schwabacher’s rental deposit and first month’s rent.

Ms. Schwabacher phoned Ms. Osipova for help on a Saturday afternoon.  Thanks to the support and counseling Ms. Osipova provided, Ms. Schwabacher and her son moved to Georgia, found work and rented an apartment two weeks later.  Ms. Schwabacher and her son drove with a cousin to Georgia.  She interviewed for a waitressing job at a local International House of Pancakes the following day.   She and her son then found an affordable one-bedroom apartment.  The $900 deposit and first month’s rent were paid with Catholic Charities Sandy Relief funds.   Meanwhile, Ms. Schabacher’s son applied for multiple jobs and expects to land one at Wal-Mart.

“It’s still hard for me to believe that within 20 days of calling Catholic Charities for help I was able to land a job, find an apartment and began my life again,” Ms. Schwabacher said.   “Valeriya stood by me; if it weren’t for her, I had no place to go.”