Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

The Leo House: a ‘Beacon’ for Travelers on Manhattan’s West Side

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Photo Credit: Maria R. Bastone

Time for another shout out in our Summer Agency Series.  These stories spotlight some of the 90 agencies in our Catholic Charities federation that, day in and day out, provide help and create hope for New Yorkers in need.

Today, let’s take a look at Leo Center and its recent profile in Catholic New York:

 

By Juliann DosSantos

Behind the front desk of The Leo House, a prominently displayed wooden crucifix is one of the first things a guest notices upon entering.

Once inside, guests in the lobby can view a flat screen television—all under the watchful eyes of a statue of St. Raphael in the background. Religious statues are dispersed throughout The Leo House, adding to a Catholic charm 125 years in the making.

The house. (an affiliate of Catholic Charities,) was founded on State Street in 1889—three years before Ellis Island opened—as an affordable place for German Catholics to stay.

Peter Paul Cahensly, a wealthy German, was instrumental in the beginnings of the guesthouse. He was one of the founders of the St. Raphael Society, which was tasked with helping recent German arrivals in New York. The generosity of the St. Raphael Society allowed The Leo House to open its doors.

Pope Leo XIII, who was pontiff from 1878 to 1903, also made a donation. The house is named for him.

Under the guidance of Mother Agnes Hazotte, C.S.A., the Sisters of St. Agnes ran the house at the outset, and they have served there ever since. Sisters of St. Agnes Kathleen Ries, C.S.A., and Marilyn Ellickson, C.S.A., are now on staff. Today, The Leo House is run largely by lay personnel.

The Leo House moved to its present location at 332 W. 23rd St. in 1926. Travelers from around the world, including Canada, Germany, France and across the United States, have found respite inside.

“The Leo House has been a safe haven of Christian hospitality for world travelers for over 125 years,” said Frank Castro, the executive director for the past eight years.

“That mission will continue to be that vital and important beacon of light in this ever-changing world.”

The motto for the nonprofit organization reflects Castro’s words: “What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains immortal.”

Accommodations include a total of 81 single and double guest rooms. In-room WiFi is available, as is a state-of-the art computer room. Room reservations should be made six months in advance.

Hidden in plain sight is a beautiful garden with tables and chairs for guests to relax outside, a unique spot for quiet amid the busy city. A fountain bubbles comfortingly in the background. Another statue—this one of Mary, Mother of Travelers—has her arms extended as if in welcome.

Castro noted that the house has a patron saint—St. Raphael, the patron of travelers. A regal painting in the dining hall depicts St. Raphael, along with SS. Michael and Gabriel, watching over the Blessed Mother and child.

The guesthouse accepts reservations from followers of all religions. Catholic mementos are prominent throughout. For instance, on each dining table, along with a card with tips for travelers in New York City, are prayer cards.

A highlight is the newly renovated chapel, seating some 40 people, which Cardinal Dolan blessed at a Mass he celebrated there May 24. Inside are original, refurbished pews from Leo House’s beginnings. On each side of the tabernacle stand two stained glass windows. Mass is offered daily in the chapel by visiting priests. The Leo House is seeking a resident priest to offer Mass, counseling and hear confessions.

Archdiocesan Catholic Charities donated $10,000 for the re-gilding of the tabernacle that has been in the chapel since 1926. The reconditioning of a stained glass window of the Blessed Mother was paid for by a donation from Angela Durso, who at one point was a resident of the Leo House. The other, depicting the Sacred Heart of Jesus, was reconditioned from smaller donations. The American St. Boniface Society donated $15,000 for the reconditioning of one of the stained-glass windows that shows Pope Leo XIII in the hallway leading to the chapel.

For information and reservations: (212) 929-1010.

Celebrating Health Ambassadors and Queens and Kings for a Day

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

kennedy_centerBy Alice Kenny

On June 6, one hundred and sixty volunteers from the national consulting firm Deloitte fanned out to more than a dozen separate site locations affiliated with Catholic Charities. Below is the fourth installment in a series about their adventures and a glimpse at the large amount that together we can accomplish.

Hobbling on walkers with shopping carts dragged behind, 60 low-income elderly men and women served by the food bank and senior center at Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem were turned into health ambassadors and Queens and Kings for a Day.

At this Healthy Food and Fun event, 15 Deloitte volunteers pitched in with Catholic Charities staff to convert the Kennedy Center auditorium into a health fair and fitness center.  There were exercise stations, hands on cooking presentations in Spanish and English and, best of all, a luncheon feast.

“This is outside the box,” said Catholic Charities Division Director Dianne Johnson as she helped stuff participants’ goodie bags with colanders, cutting boards, vegetables and more.

“Today was not just talking about nutrition but experiencing it.  It ties together everything we do.”

Join us in Feeding Our Neighbors.

Teens Solve Murder Mystery

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

By Alice Kennystudents-science

The Washington Heights teens had a murder to solve.

  •      The Victim: a female college student.
  •      The Suspects:  a classmate, a tutor and a boyfriend.
  •      The Clues:
    •      skin fragments, perhaps the murderers, beneath the victims fingernails
    •      blood on the furniture
    •      foot prints on the carpet.

The investigators, nearly two dozen high school students in all, piled into a bus that brought them from Washington Heights where per-capita income is half the New York average to the forensic lab at Stony Brook, one of the top state universities in New York.

The students participate in the Catholic Charities Alianza Division GPS-GW program at the High School for Media and Communications.  The program provides key support to promote higher education for low-income teens.  The event, hosted by Catholic Charities Alianza Division and sponsored by Stony Brook Center for Science and Math Education and the United Way, was designed to encourage these teens to consider as a career the up-and-coming field of biotechnology.

To solve the murder mystery, students applied the scientific method.  They evaluated evidence, formed a hypothesis, planned and performed experiments and analyzed results.

So who was the murderer?  Not again!

You guessed it… the boyfriend.

Catholic Charities Supports Bill to Provide Identity Cards for all New Yorkers

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

 

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan submitted testimony yesterday, April 30, 2014, in support of proposed legislation called Intro 253 of 2014 that would provide New Yorkers who lack documentation, including undocumented immigrants, city-issued identification cards.

This ID card would help those who live and work in New York City but are shut out from key City services where ID is required.

Below is Msgr. Sullivan’s testimony:

The Catholic Church has long been in the forefront of immigration reform and services to immigrant communities regardless of one’s place of origin or religious beliefs. This legislation provides a mechanism for inclusion and identity into city life for immigrants as well as other isolated groups.
Catholic Charities is a federation of 90 agencies that:

• Protect and Nurture Children & Youth
• Feed the Hungry and Shelter the Homeless
• Strengthen Families and resolve Crisis
• Support the Physically and Emotionally Challenged, and
• Welcome and Integrate Immigrants and Refugees.

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, through its many agencies and programs, has worked tirelessly to help refugees fleeing persecution to get protection in the United States and immigrants to reunite with their families legally, obtain proper work authorization, apply for naturalization, learn English and civics, and prepare to pass their citizenship exams. We assist more than 100,000 individuals annually. We are privileged to operate the New York State New Americans Hotline which, this year alone, has received close to 25,000 calls in 17 different languages. We recently relocated our major center to downtown New York to provide better access for those from all boroughs.

New York City has a long tradition, like Catholic Charities, of welcoming immigrants and providing access to ensure dignity and justice for the human person. This bill will provide the ability for immigrants, seniors, homeless persons and other marginalized groups to obtain identification cards to access government services and structures. The lives of many will be vastly improved by the acceptance of various and broad forms of proof to establish residency and identity and thereby allow people to obtain identity cards.

We can’t deny the contribution and influence of immigrants to the culture and economy of the City of New York. Establishing a way to access public schools to pick up their children, open bank accounts, get library cards, cash checks and even enter a public building are just some of the ways that this municipal identification card can ensure that we continue on the path toward full civic participation for all New Yorkers, regardless of status.

We urge the speedy passage of this legislation and, again, congratulate the bill’s sponsor, the Chair of the Immigration Committee, the Speaker and the other members of the City council for the introduction and support of this crucial measure. Thank you for the opportunity to testify on this bill.

For the inside scoop on the potential backlash or embrace of municipal ID cards Msgr. Sullivan interviewed John DeStefano the former Mayor of New Haven, CT in this recent episode of JustLove radio. New Haven, a city of about 130,000, pioneered municipal ID cards without regard to legal status in 2007.

JustLove airs weekly on Saturday at 10am EST on SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio on The Catholic Channel 129.

Create Hope This Easter

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014

Easter shows us that pain and suffering is not the final word. There is triumph. There is hope.

We’re here to bring new life to New Yorkers in need that conquers pain, sadness and suffering.

Join us.

Provide help. Create hope.

Transform lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meet Laddie, Our Latest Volunteer

Monday, March 31st, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities Staten Island Senior Center just hired Laddie Boy, our latest and likely best-ever volunteer.

The therapy dog passed a stringent interview process, correctly responding to a demanding series of Q and A’s:  “Sit” (and Laddie sits); “Down” (and Laddie lies down); “Stay” (Well, you’ve got the idea.)

Highly trained and a real people ..err.. dog person, Laddie is part of the Angels On A Leash program,* clocking in his hours at the senior center.

Staff members Marni Caruso and Lisa Harrison say they enjoy getting to know Laddie – as he literally sniffs things out — to make sure he is a good fit.

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience watching him meet clients, they added.  The positive energy and excitement generated make them sure he is the perfect for this group.

Moreover, they look forward to consistent visits…and Laddie looks forward to consistent pets and treats.

*Angels On A Leash

Hunger Shame

Thursday, March 20th, 2014

“While we’re a thriving metropolis that is proud of its rich culinary depth, New York has too many residents who are unable to even eat,” writes New York Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, in this editorial posted yesterday in the New York Daily News.

“More than a third of New Yorkers struggle to afford food. That means children are hungry at school, parents working multiple jobs cannot provide for their loved ones, and families must sometimes choose between putting food on the table and paying bills.

That should not be our New York. But since the Great Recession in 2008, food insecurity has been a growing reality. ..

A major tool in the fight against hunger is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, better known as food stamps. More than 1.8 million New Yorkers receive food stamps, contributing $3.5 billion to the city’s economy. But there are hundreds of thousands of others who are eligible for this aid but don’t receive it. Providing more language translation, removing application barriers and coordinating outreach are measures we will focus on.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that every $1 in food stamps generates $1.79 in local economic activity. Not only are families suffering needlessly without access to these benefits, but low-income communities lose out on more than $1 billion each year in economic stimulus…

Reversing the tide against hunger will take a coordinated effort from lawmakers, community groups and everyday New Yorkers. Together, we can create an environment that reminds everyone why we are the greatest city on the planet: We look out for one another.”

Lilliam Barrios-Paoli

At Catholic Charities, “looking out for one another” is what we are all about.  For more than 100 years we have been fighting hunger and helping solve the problems of New Yorkers in need, non-Catholics and Catholics alike.  We help with emergency food programs throughout the City; including St. Jerome’s in the Bronx where Msgr. Sullivan pitched in to serve the hungry yesterday.

Recently, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and fellow Catholic Charities representatives met with Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli.  We are working collaboratively with organizations across the City to intensively promote Food Stamp enrollment.  And we are assigning case management staff to enroll qualified New Yorkers receiving food at our pantries into the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (food stamps.)

Are you, your children or your family hungry?  Call us at 888-744-7900

Or call the NYC 24- Hour Hunger Hotline at 1-866-NYC-FOOD (1-866-692-3663)

Help us fight hunger.

Read Deputy Mayor Barrios-Paoli’s full Op Ed in the New York Daily News.

March Is Social Work Month

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

March is Social Work Month, a time to recognize and honor social workers who provide help, create hope and help rebuild lives.

At Catholic Charities we are fortunate to have great social workers, case managers and other leaders dedicated to solving the problems of New Yorker’s in need.

On what we are calling “Social Work Wednesday” we invite you to meet this week another of our case workers, learn about what she does and see why she finds her career rewarding.

Nancy Cabrera – MSW

Q: How long have you worked in the field of social work?

A: I’ve worked in this field for 20 years.

Q: What does “social work” mean to you?

A: Social Work means to me to advocate, empower, empathize and fight indifferences.

Q: What do you like most about your career?

A: What I like most about my career is the satisfaction of making a difference in people’s life.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Monday, March 17th, 2014

We’re wearing the green today.  Yet every day Catholic Charities provides specialized services to address the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable Irish emigrants — along with emigrants from all nations.

Thanks to significant support from the Consulate General of Ireland, Catholic Charities through Project Irish Outreach has offered the Irish community settled in New York City and Westchester County frontline advice, counseling and support services for more than 26 years.

Services include information and referral, immigration legal assistance and/or representation, social services casework, pastoral services, maternity services, ministry to Irish prisoners,  healthcare information and referral and general support services for individuals, families and the elderly.

Catholic Charities staff are located in Aisling Irish Community Center in Westchester County and at the Catholic Center in Manhattan.

Are you an Irish emigrant looking for help?

Please call us at 914-237-5098 or email us at Sr.Christine.hennessy@archny.org

Erin go bragh!

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.