Archive for the ‘What We Do at Catholic Charities’ Category

Local Politicians Team with Catholic Charities

Friday, July 31st, 2015

castlehillCatholic Charities joined NY State Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda and NY Congressman Jose Serrano on Saturday, July 11, to serve up barbecue, games and support in Castle Hill, one of the poorest congressional districts in the nation.

Called “Family Day,” the event brought the community together with free burgers, cotton candy, snacks and more.  And for the smaller folks, it included a clown, face painter and bouncy castle.

Most important for those in need, the event linked neighbors to the many services Catholic Charities offers.  Our staff offered those attending key information about our eviction prevention, housing and paralegal services.  They offered financial counseling and case management.  And they connected them to our job training and placement services.

Do you need help with housing, financial counseling or finding a job?

Find help near you.

Eric Garner: A Death That Sparked A Movement

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015
AThe Interfaith Prayer Service for Healing and Reconciliation was held in memory of the one year anniversary of Eric Garner's death.  The service was held at Mt ini United Christian Church in Staten Island.   Cardinal Timothy Dolan spoke during the event.  Many members of the Garner Family were in attendance, including his Mother, Step-Father, Wife, and several of his children.  Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke, as did other elected officials and members of the clergy.  The evening concluded with a Vigil Candle Lighting.  NYPD Boro Commander Edward Dellatorre and Gwen Carr, mother of Eric Garner  lit a single candle together. Mary DiBiase Blaich for Catholic New York

Photo Credit: Mary DiBiase Blaich, Catholic New York

By Alice Kenny

Esaw Garner sobbed at the interfaith prayer service held in Staten Island on July 14 to commemorate the one-year-anniversary of the tragic death of her husband, Eric Garner.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined fellow leaders, family and friends to honor Mr. Garner who died after an NYPD officer placed him in a chokehold after attempting to arrest him for selling loose cigarettes. Mayor Bill de Blasio and local politicians, Rev. Al Sharpton and interfaith leaders, police officers, friends and family stood among the crowd that packed Mount Sinai United Christian Church.

Together they gathered to search for meaning in this death that sparked a movement.

John Woods, Editor and Chief of Catholic New York, reports the words of Cardinal Dolan in the homily he gave at the service:

‘Could the grief that began a year ago just down the street from here and seemed to ooze like a toxic oil spill to places like Ferguson, Baltimore, Charleston, and Brooklyn and beyond…be an occasion of repentance and renewal?’ Cardinal Dolan asked.

‘Could our yearlong trial be an opening for God to transform us, from death to life, from despair to hope, from winter to spring?’

The cardinal suggested it could, but that we must first acknowledge God’s supremacy in our lives and place our faith and hope in him as we love one another.

Free Skilled Labor

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

guild anthonyAnthony Severo, Employment Coordinator for Catholic Charities Guild for the Blind and a member of the Brooklyn Chamber’s Ambassador Committee, wrote in Brooklyn’s Progress, about his success pairing visually impaired persons trained by the Catholic Guild with jobs at a local non-profit agency.

Here is an excerpt:

By Anthony Severo
Employment Coordinator, Catholic Guild for the Blind

Kim Fasano, Board Chair of Reaching-Out Community Services…attended one of our Work Readiness Workshops that I conduct, where she had the opportunity to meet our diverse clients and assess the skill sets they can offer…She became enamored with several of the group participants and felt their skills would be applicable at Reaching-Out Community Services…

As with most non-profits, there are budget constraints, but thanks to the contract the Catholic Guild for the Blind has with the New York State Commission for the Blind, we were able to set up two Work Experience Trainings.

This program allows for our visually impaired clients to gain experience or re-acclimate themselves to work, while also providing assistance to an organization at no cost.  During the 260 hours the person is interning, he or she is on the payroll of the Catholic Charities Community Services and is covered by our worker’s compensation and short-term disability.

This literally creates a “win-win” scenario.  The non-profit in this instance can get more work accomplished without impacting their budget, while our clients attain real world work experience and the chance to prove how capable visally impaired people really are with and without assistive technology – which we supply if needed…

Read the full article online.

Looking for a trained, qualified intern free of charge? Call Catholic Charities Guild for the Blind:  646-794-3337


The Number One Skill for Immigrant’s Success: English

Monday, July 13th, 2015

Practicing English at Catholic Charities International Center

The premier Spanish-language newspaper “El Diario” turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services, C. Mario Russell, for regular updates on immigration reform.

In this latest issue of El Diario, Mario takes on the key skill for immigrant success.

By C. Mario Russell

There are so many reasons why immigrants are important. They sustain the diversity of this nation, they create businesses critical for the health of the economy, and they contribute to the wealth and welfare of our society.  But underpinning all this is one vital skill they need in order to make these things happen: the ability to communicate in English.

Immigrant parents need English so they can become involved with their children’s education; according to the National Institutes of Health, the level of a mother’s literacy skills is the most important factor affecting a child’s literacy. Workers need English so they can obtain jobs that pay a living wage; it is no accident that the unemployment rate for adults with low literacy is twice that of literate workers. Entrepreneurs need English so they can navigate the bureaucracy involved in starting their own businesses.  Students need English so they can finish their secondary education and go to college. This education benefits all of us. Each worker with a high school credential generates $324,000 in net benefits for the New York City and will rely less on public benefits and contribute more in taxes.

But what is being done to support immigrants who want to learn English? How are so many individuals with different English learning needs finding help? One progressive program, the Catholic Charities International Center in Manhattan, is designed precisely to meet the challenge of giving culturally, socioeconomically, and linguistically diverse students instruction at their level to achieve the same goal: to learn English and develop a greater understanding of American life.


Catholic Charities Statement on Child Welfare

Saturday, July 11th, 2015


Recently, the media has given attention to the care being provided to children in the New York foster care system. The important issues raised will be dealt with over the next months. Hopefully, these will be handled appropriately for the sake of the vulnerable children being cared for.

For well over a century, Catholic agencies have been meeting the needs of neglected, abandoned and orphaned children in New York. Currently, affiliates of the Catholic Charities Federation of agencies provide foster care services to thousands of children each night. I have often visited these programs, met with their Executive and Board leadership and witnessed the work of their talented staff. .. I wish to note and support their dedicated work.

Our agencies remain committed to providing quality care to these kids and their families. This includes promptly developing plans that move children from temporary care  to permanent homes as quickly and as safely as possible. Our agencies support parents and other caregivers to address and overcome the challenges that caused their children to be placed in foster care.   Our agencies work   with government partners and other groups to advocate for appropriate resources and support so these vulnerable New Yorkers can be effectively served.

As high quality as these services are, our agencies are committed to strong quality improvement programs to further enhance these services. The welfare of those entrusted to their care necessitates nothing less.

It would be my hope, and prayer, that fewer and fewer children experience the pain and hurt that requires their placement in foster care. While we strive toward that end, I am very grateful for the dedicated work of our Catholic Charities agencies that provide such quality compassionate care to thousands of vulnerable children.


Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

Inside Scoop From Former Immigrant Teen

Friday, July 10th, 2015


By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities’ own Migration Counselor Elvis Garcia Callejas was invited with a group of immigrants and refugees to participate in the national 2015 Migrant and Refugee Leadership Academy held last month in Baltimore and Washington D.C.

Only 85 people were chosen for this three-day conference.   And only eight, including Elvis, were chosen to meet at the White House with top government officials.

The conference goal was to train future leaders to advocate for laws that provide protections for immigrants and refugees.  Elvis and his group of eight then met with officials about immigration policies and the role the U.S. should take protecting these vulnerable populations.

Elvis’ selection was sweeter still because he once was a teenage migrant alone in the U.S.  Now he helps new arrivals who face struggles similar to his.

After the conference Elvis shared his background with Robert Carey, director of the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement.

Fifteen years old, hungry and alone, Elvis hitched rides, scrambled atop freight trains and dragged himself through deserts for 1,200 miles to reach his promised land, the United States.  His native Honduras had turned into a wasteland where teenage gangs held shootouts on village streets.

“Coming to the U.S. all by myself at the age of 15 was really tough, but I was lucky to have help from so many great people and organizations,” Elvis told Mr. Carey. “I’m proud to now work for Catholic Charities, who with the help of ORR, make sure unaccompanied children know their rights and are able to access protection under US law. From personal experience, I know how important this support is.”

Civics 101

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

20150629-DSC_0839-676x385By Yvonne Marcotte

Epoch Times

“If you were asked, “What is the ‘rule of law’?” you might respond with a blank stare,” writes Yvonne Marcotte in the international Epoch Times.

…The exam can be intimidating but the Office for New Americans ONA is there to help. Teaching U.S. history is one of the many services (ONA) offers so immigrants can pass the test required for citizenship.

“We want to encourage people that the exam is doable,” says Shannon Kelly, associate director for Hudson Valley Services of Catholic Charities.

(Catholic Charities Program and Volunteer Coordinator) Jennifer Ramirez coordinates the state-sponsored program Office for New Americans, located at the Catholic Charities office in Newburgh, N.Y. Ramirez says ONA not only prepares immigrants for the citizenship exam, but also offers classes in English, and gives entrepreneurship seminars on a regular basis throughout the year for those who want to start a business.

New York has 4.2 million immigrants within its borders, and one in four New Yorkers of working age are foreign-born, according to the ONA website.

To accommodate this valued workforce, the Newburgh ONA provides outreach to tell immigrants how ONA can help.

…An amazing 31 percent of business owners in New York are immigrants, and immigrant business owners generate $12.6 billion in business revenue for the state, according to ONA.

ONA provides assistance in developing job skills through entrepreneurial seminars. …Ramirez says a tough task for many immigrants is learning English.  Jessica Lazo, Catholic Charities migration counselor, is on staff to provide one-on-one coaching.

…So, what is the rule of law? You’d be right if you answered “everyone must follow the law,” “leaders must obey the law,” “government must obey the law,” or “no one is above the law.”

Read the full story in Epoch Times.

Healing with Mosaics

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015


By Alice Kenny

Broken children served by Astor, a Catholic Charities affiliated agency that serves children in need, are pasting broken glass into mosaics. Together, they are beginning to mend.

“There is a healing quality in putting fragmented products into a whole,” says Roberta Andersen.

Ms. Andersen has been helping children create mosaics at Astor Residence for the past 15 years. Many of the children struggle with emotional and psychological problems. These problems make it difficult to experience the simple everyday pleasures of being a child.

So Astor uses art, along with therapies and support to reach them. In their last mosaic project, children, guided by Ms. Andersen and Astor Art Therapist Kathleen Gavin, created a huge bright yellow sunflower.

To make it, they combined ceramic pieces into three separate layers of glass. Each layer was heated in a kiln at different temperatures and then fused together. This varied each layers’ texture and added, Andersen says, to the children’s enjoyment as they moved their hands over their creation.

“We wanted the sunflower mosaic to be a strong, uplifting image of color and light,” Ms. Andersen adds.

The sunflower mosaic now hangs proudly on a residence hallway wall.

Find out more details from Astor Development Associate, Carly Hertica, on The Astor blog.

$25K Swindled From Recent Immigrants

Monday, July 6th, 2015


In one of the latest publicized examples of immigrants preyed on by swindlers, Hispanic couple Jorge and Gloria were scammed out of $25,000, reports Telemundo in a recent televised news program.

“Immigrants meet with notarios and other people who tell them that they are qualified to adjust their status and nothing happens in the end,” Catholic Charities attorney Johana Vega tells Telemundo’s on-air reporter Liz Gonzalez.

In this latest case, Telemundo reports:

Vivi Nandalai, 49 years old, admitted to larceny after presenting supposedly official identification documents to a Hispanic couple.

She apparently claimed that she worked for the department of motor vehicles. And that she could get them drivers’ licenses and resident cards. And she charged them $25,000 in cash!

Catholic Charities, fortunately, runs the New York State New Americans Hotline and through that hotline, they are able to tell callers how and where to verify whether or not they are dealing with a real attorney and/or a person with the right credentials to help them with their immigration cases. In addition, the hotline is able to refer callers to the right non-profit organization that can provide them with free or low cost assistance.

…Please keep the following in mind:

·         Never pay in cash.

·         Always ask for payment receipts.

·    Always require contracts to be in your own language.

·    Call the immigration helpline at: 1-800-566-7636

Wonder what happened to the swindler?

Watch this televised report in Spanish on Telemundo.

Inside Scoop on Pope Francis’ NYC Visit

Thursday, July 2nd, 2015


By Alice Kenny

Details are surfacing about the upcoming historic visit by Pope Francis to the U.S.

And Catholic Charities is here to share them with you!

 The Pope’s whirlwind visit, scheduled from Sept. 23-27, touches down in Washington D.C..  It moves to NYC.  And it culminates in Philadelphia.

Here in New York, Kathryn Lopez reports in National Review,

The pope will be visiting a Catholic Charities center…to see how ‘strangers’ are welcomed in the city (by a church that was built by immigrants), as Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities in New York put it.”

 Adding more details, this time about Pope Francis’ visit to those served by Catholic Charities in Washington DC, Matt Hadro reports in Catholic Online,

“The Pope will visit the archdiocese’s Catholic Charities branch where he will meet with homeless persons attending the charity’s weekly St. Maria’s Meal program, blessing the food.”

 Pope Francis, since his election, has made solidarity with the poor and the defense of immigrants his towering priorities. His determination to spend time with those served by Catholic Charities during his short trip along the East Coast comes as no surprise, says Msgr. Sullivan.

“This is so appropriate,” Msgr. Sullivan says.  “So many of our agencies day in and day out serve newcomers to our country with a wide range of services..Our food pantries feed immigrant children…Refugee are helped with resettlement…Fearful immigrants are aided in how to avoid exploitation and fraud.  Families are reunited.”

Check out Pope Francis’ full itinerary in Catholic Online.

Read CrossStreets as we continue to bring you breaking news on Pope Francis’ upcoming visit!