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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.

President Obama Announces “My Brother’s Keeper” Initiative, a Mantra Here at Catholic Charities

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

High unemployment rates.  High incarceration rates.  Worst of all, sky-high murder rates among black men gunned down in their youth.

President Obama takes on these key issues in his just-announced “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative, issues long-tackled by Catholic Charities.

This past month, for example, Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem held its third annual Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. basketball tournament.  Run during the February schools break, it provided recreation during the winter recess to keep teens off the streets and inside a supportive environment.

Manhattan District attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. (son of former U.S. Secretary of State Cyrus R. Vance. Sr).  presented trophies and ribbon medals to the team members who are residents of Juvenal Justice System Homes. Each home comprised one team.

A special five-foot trophy was given to the one player who exhibited the best sportsmanship throughout the tournament.

The motto resounding through each of the five days was “Put down the guns, pick up a  ball and recreate. ”

And that’s what they did.  Each day different speakers addressed these youth with testimony and advise about how to survive adverse climates. Speakers included Inspector Rodney Harris, commander of the 32nd precinct, Deacon Rodney Beckford, director of Catholic Charities Community Services Kennedy Center and  numerous officers from NYPD.

Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E. (Stop Another Violent Act) that helped sponsor the event was founded by Jackie  Rowe-Adams and fellow mothers who lost sons to gun violence. The group meets and holds events at Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Community Center.

“I didn’t have a dad in the house,”  President Obama said when he announced the initiative named after the biblical phrase he often uses to share his belief that society must help those facing challenges.  “I made bad choices…I made excuses, sometimes I sold myself short.”

The time to change the cycle is now, President Obama continued.  His “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative will work with nonprofit agencies, churches and political leaders to fight back against the drum beat of violence and addiction that has plagued too many for too long.

Award – Winning Msgr. Patrick McCahill Shares Secret

Monday, February 24th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Msgr McCahill celebrating First Communion

Monsignor Patrick McCahill, the force behind services for the Deaf in the New York Archdiocese and recent winner of the Father David Walsh Pastoral Worker of the Year Award, shares a secret known largely only among the Deaf.

“When hearing people talk about the Deaf they think of it as a negative; that you can’t hear,” he says.  “But to be Deaf is also a matter of belonging; to belong to a group of capable friends who share a special language.”

Msgr. McCahill was let into this secret during his 45 years ministering to the Deaf.

“He has worked tirelessly to build a Church that is truly home for the Deaf in every ministerial capacity,” said Sr. Barbara Ann Sgro, OP, Coordinator of Deaf Services – Hudson Valley, when she nominated him to the National Catholic Office for the Deaf for this annual award that honors individuals who contributed significant dedication, support and assistance to Deaf Catholics.

The understated monsignor, known for his quiet voice and beloved Irish sweaters, already had his moment of fame when the renowned Deaf Choir he leads used sign language to perform before Pope Benedict during his New York visit in 2008.

But folks within the Deaf community, their families, friends and supporters know him better for the day-to-day difference he makes in their lives.

When he began his ministry, people with hearing impairments were stigmatized, he says.  Now they represent every profession, from lawyers to laborers.

“They are respected for their abilities,” he says, “and they have lots of them.”

A New Yorker through and through – his only other home was Yonkers during his stint at St. Joseph’s Seminary – Msgr. McCahill has become adept at translating even the most complex conversations.  He is often called on to translate between those speaking English, those speaking Spanish with obscure native dialects, those using American sign language and even those who grew up in isolated villages and developed their own symbols of communication.

As pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Manhattan where he moderates the archdiocesan Deaf Center located there, Msgr. McCahill celebrates sign language mass twice a month.  He also travels on alternate weeks to provide sign language mass in Staten Island and White Plains.  He conducts prayer services with the Deaf at Rockland Psychiatric Hospital. He supports and hosts Deaf seminarians, taught sign language to seminarians at the Archdiocese of New York’s Dunwoodie Seminary and catechesis at St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf in the Bronx and New York School for the Deaf in White Plains. He has been involved in Marriage Encounter for the Deaf, National Deaf Cursillo and hosted Cursillos for the Deaf throughout greater New York.  He coordinates and facilitates the New York State Pastoral Workers with the Deaf semi-annual gatherings.  And he is currently developing a series of Adult Faith Formation videos that use sign language to minister to the Deaf.

Because he runs so many archdiocesan services for the hearing impaired, he says that his biggest concern, perhaps not surprisingly, is inspiring seminarians to join him.

“You have to concentrate, to learn their language,” he says.  “It requires a fair amount of work and then it gets in your bloodstream.”

Learn more about Msgr. McCahill and his ministry in this latest issue of Catholic New York. 

Valentine’s Day: More Than Hearts, Flowers and Cards

Friday, February 14th, 2014


“Happy Valentine’s Day,” Msgr. Sullivan says, “but go beyond the flowers; go beyond the candy kisses and realize that Christian love reaches out in sacrifice to those in need to try to transform their lives.”

Click to watch his video.

As Winter Storm “Pax” Pounds New York, Catholic Charities Promotes Peace and Safety from This Weather Nightmare.

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Not again.  If weather forecasts are right we may be in for the worst storm of the winter today – and that’s saying something.  Predictions include up to a foot of snow in parts of the Archdiocese.  Gusty winds combined with ice and snow could tear down electrical wires and trigger power outages.  New York City, meanwhile, is preparing to once again be sandwiched by the new winter special – snow/sleet/freezing rain – with a snow season total of four feet expected by the end of the day.

Who’s the joker who named this storm, anyway?  This deadly winter mix that began barreling through the south on Tuesday has already caused at least five weather-related traffic deaths  according to a recent Reuters report.

So New Yorkers beware. Catholic Charities, working with the Office of Emergency Management, is here to help.

New York City’s Office of Emergency Management offers multiple tips for staying warm and safe, from what to do if you lose heat to what to do if you get stuck on the road and are afraid you are developing frostbite.*

If you need help, please call the phone numbers below right away:

If you or someone else is in danger, fell through cracking ice, suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or see a homeless person cold, alone and on the streets:

  • Call 911

If you lose heat or have frozen pipes:

  • Call 311

If you lose power, call your power provider:

  • Con Edison 24-hour hotline: 1-800-75-CONED (752-6633)
  • National Grid 24-hour hotline: 1-718-643-4050
  • Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) 24-hour hotline: 1-800-490-0025
    Learn more about power disruptions

If You Must Drive a Vehicle

Whenever possible, avoid driving in a winter storm. If you must go out, it is safer to take public transportation. However, if you must drive or get caught in a storm, heed the following tips:

  • Avoid traveling alone, but if you do so, let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.
  • Dress warmly. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers.
  • Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions.
  • Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible; these roadways will be cleared first.
  • Drive slowly. Posted speed limits are for ideal weather conditions. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they do not stop quicker than other vehicles.
  • If you skid, steer in the direction you want the car to go and straighten the wheel when the car moves in the desired direction.
  • Know your vehicle’s braking system. Vehicles with antilock brakes require a different braking technique than vehicles without antilock brakes in icy or snowy conditions.
  • Try to keep your vehicle’s gas tank as full as possible.

IF YOU GET STUCK ON THE ROAD:

  • Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety unless help is visible within 100 yards. You could become disoriented in blowing snow.
  • Display a trouble sign if you need help; tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna and raise the hood to alert rescuers.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the car is running so you can be seen.
  • Move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
  • Keep one window slightly open to let in fresh air. Use a window that is opposite the direction the wind is blowing.

*Click here for more safety tips from NYC Office of Emergency Management.

Do you need help?
Call the Catholic Charities Help Line: 888-744-7900, or email us through our contact form.

New York State Office for New Americans Touts Free Immigrant Assistance and Referral Hotline

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

The New York State New Americans Hotline –1-800-566-7636 – provides general information and referrals on immigration and naturalization questions in more than 200 languages; also helps combat fraud against immigrants.

ALBANY – The New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) announced that its New York State New Americans Hotline (800-566-7636) has fielded more than 25,000 calls from immigrants and made more than 42,000 referrals to not-for-profit service providers in response to requests for assistance in 2013.  ONA was launched by Governor Andrew Cuomo in March as the first statewide office dedicated to helping our state’s immigrants contribute to our economy and become part of the family of New York.

Detailed data about the hotline will be released in the winter of 2014.

The New York State New Americans Hotline is a multi-lingual information center providing live assistance on general questions about immigration and naturalization. The hotline provides assistance in more than 200 languages, including Spanish, French, Haitian-Creole, Arabic and Chinese. The hotline operates from 9AM to 8PM (ET), Monday through Friday (excluding Federal holidays), and offers referrals to ONA Opportunity Centers and information on all New York State programs serving refugees and immigrants, other immigrant-related public and private programs, and not-for-profit immigrant service providers throughout the state.

“We are pleased that the New York State New Americans Hotline is helping so many immigrants as they transition to fully participating in New York State’s civic and economic life,” said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales, who oversees ONA for Governor Andrew M. Cuomo. “The hotline is an important source of information for immigrants and others who seek immigration and naturalization assistance. It also refers New Americans to their nearest ONA Opportunity Center, where they can meet with a staff member to begin the process of learning English, becoming naturalized or starting a new business.”

Raluca Oncioiu, Director of the New York State New Americans Hotline at Catholic Charities Community Services added: “The hotline has an important role to play in educating immigrants about their rights and referring them to reliable service providers in order to prevent anti-immigrant fraud. In particular, the hotline is always ready to educate the public about new programs, such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals announced in the summer of 2012, when hotline counselors fielded thousands of calls and made appropriate referrals to agencies providing free legal services.”

The New York State New Americans Hotline supports the network of 27 neighborhood-based ONA Opportunity Centers. Hosted within existing culturally-competent, language-accessible community-based organizations throughout the State, each ONA Opportunity Center helps immigrants learn English, prepare naturalization applications, study for the U.S. citizenship exam, and start and grow businesses.

New York State has the second largest immigrant population in the nation, which includes more than 1.2 million immigrants who reside outside the New York City area. More than one in four New York State residents of working age is foreign-born, which presents a major opportunity for economic growth in our state, where 29 percent of all small businesses are owned by immigrants.

“We look forward to serving more immigrants across New York State and urge them to tap into the hotline,” Perales continued.

For more information on the New York State Office for New Americans, go to www.newamericans.ny.gov

Preserving Dignity and Providing Freedom

Friday, January 24th, 2014

“The freedom of religion that we experience in the United States sometimes makes it difficult for us to realize that this principle does not exist in many parts of the world. In many countries, Christians are the minority and often the  victims of persecution.  Over the years, Catholic Charities has successfully represented victims of religious persecution, thus potentially saving their lives if they had been forced to return to their home countries.”

Read more about this recent story of religious persecution 

Martin Luther King: “Life’s Most Persistent and Urgent Question”

Monday, January 20th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said  that “life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’”

Today, as they celebrate Martin Luther King Jr.’s Interfaith Day of Service, 80 Catholic and Jewish teens from Westchester are giving an answer.

Forty youth from St. Peter’s Parish in Yonkers and Holy Rosary in Port Chester will join 40 youth from UJA-Federation to provide a meal and activities for 300 persons in need at the Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester.

The day starts early for these 80 teens as they set up, prepare and serve midday meals.  They will also offer art and crafts activities for children attending the event.

The day then ends as youth lead an ecumenical period of reflection; an opportunity to build community while raising hunger awareness.

The event is part of Feeding Our Neighbors, an interfaith campaign to replenish food pantries and soup kitchens that serve those in need.

“What are you doing for others?” Rev. King asked.

Join us in answering this urgent question.

 

Read more in the Daily Voice.