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

Pushing for Worker Safety

Thursday, April 24th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Today, April 24, 2014, marks the tragic one-year anniversary of the worst disaster in garment industry history, the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Bangladesh that killed 1,129 workers.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan has taken an active role keeping this issue in the forefront.  He joined a delegation this past December that included New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, whose state pension investments include companies that contract with garment factories and Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union to Bangladesh to observe garment industry conditions and meet with survivors and the families of victims.  Msgr. Sullivan published his concerns on blog posts and more recently in a New York Times editorial co-authored with Mr. Appelbaum.

“All of us must help minimize the human casualties of our global economy and ensure that the dignity of working people doesn’t end up on the clearance rack,” they wrote.

In this recent episode of JustLove, Catholic Charities’ weekly radio show on Sirius XM Satellite Radio, The Catholic Channel 129, Msgr. Sullivan spoke again with Comptroller DiNapoli.

“It was a very moving experience,” DiNapoli said about their trip to Bangladesh, “with you, from the spiritual dimension and me from the investor side with our perspective… about social justice and worker rights.”

While western retailers and apparel brands are now pushing to improve safety at the Bangladesh factories they do business with, results, twelve months later, have fallen short.

Inspectors, The New York Times reports, have found problems in every factory they checked including, “buildings so overloaded that their columns had cracked, flammable fabric storage areas adjoining work spaces and fire stairways leading to the factory floor rather than outside the building.”

Second only to China, Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry employs between three and four million workers.  Its history of corruption and slipshod work leaves open the potential for still greater loss of life.

“These heart-wrenching tragedies are not a sustainable business model,” Mr. DiNapoli said.  “They cannot keep this industry going if people are going to be maimed, injured or killed.”

Learn more on JustLove.

Read the full story in The New York Times

 

Riding the River for Peace and Justice

Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

bxrivercanoeIt’ a sunny day in the South Bronx and David Shuffler climbs into a canoe. Hemmed in by four major highways – the Bruckner, the Cross Bronx, the Bronx River and the Sheridan expressways—his Bronx River neighborhood’s one-square mile houses the nations’ highest respiratory-illness rate, places one out of every two youth below the poverty line and is infamous as the spot where police shot dead unarmed Amadu Diallo.

But it also has a rare treasure that, until recently, was mostly abused; the Bronx River.

Mr. Shuffler, today the executive director of Catholic Charities affiliate Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice (YMPJ), was once one of the kids coming up on the streets here.  YMPJ started when drug dealers owned the neighborhood, burning down a church to retaliate for a prayer vigil held to close local crack dens’ doors.

Now, thanks in large part to YMPJ’s mobilization, residents are taking their neighborhood back. They got the Army Corps of Engineers to clean up three tons of debris–  including 15,000 tires, cars and filth –abandoned along the waterfront.  They took back a crumbling cement plant and converted into a public park. They replaced menacing streets with an arts and education outlets for teens.  And they are fighting back poverty by providing wrap-around support services for parents.

But nothing, Mr. Shuffler says, better symbolizes what YMPJ is accomplishing – or makes him feel better – than YPNJ’s canoe program.

As part of it, neighborhood teens are taught the camera’s intricacies of shutter speeds and angles. They learn how to monitor air and water quality.  And with their newfound expertise, teens that never before touched the river then tumble into YMPJ’s 10 canoes.  They snap photos and sample water purity as they paddle by the Botanical Gardens, the Bronx Zoo, all the way up to the splendor and stonework of the Kensico Dam.

“As you go up river it’s a crazy experience to see how access to the river changes,” Mr. Shuffler says.  “In Kensico people just walk up and touch the river.  Our teens say ‘why isn’t that the case in our community,” why is it lined with fences and gates and bobbing with plastic bags and pollution?

“Our creative arts-based curriculum opens young people’s eyes to the issues of environmental justice, police reform and opportunities they have to make a real difference,” he adds.

David gets this deep down. He was 13, going on 14, when his parents pushed him into becoming one of the then-new agency’s early participants.  Begun in St. Joan of Arc Church basement in 1994, YMPJ gave him a safe place to hang out while fostering his skills in soccer, journalism, arts and culture.  He worked his way up from participant to youth organizer.

Now, nearly 20 years later, he serves as its executive director.

“There’s an army of other soldiers coming up now,” he says as his paddle gently splashes the water, “children who will ideally move on into the banking world, political scene and nonprofits where they will share the principles and values they learned with us of community and peace and social justice.”

Learn more about Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice.

Missed Out on the Boston Marathon? Run with Us in the Big Leagues; Team Catholic Charities in the TCS NYC Marathon!

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Inspired by yesterday’s great news about Meb Keflezighi becoming the first American to win the Boston Marathon since 1983?

Wish that winner had been you?

You’re just in time to join the Big Team in the Big City.

That’s us, Team Catholic Charities NY in the upcoming TCS New York City Marathon.

Catholic Charities is one of the official charity participants for the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon.

And as you likely already know, there are only a few ways to get into this exclusive event.

Elite runners qualify based on running time.  Lucky ones – just 6 percent – get selected through a lottery. Members of New York Road Runners (NYRR) qualify by running 9 races and volunteering for one.

And remarkable people like you qualify by running for charity.

During the next 6 months, ten runners on Team Catholic Charities New York will dedicate themselves to two challenges: training to run 26.2 miles through every borough of New York City, and fundraising for The St. Nicholas Project, our Catholic Charities initiative that provides nearly 4,000 New Yorkers in need with warm clothing, blankets and more during the cold winter months.

Apply to join the TCS New York City Marathon and join Team Catholic Charities NY to get the experience of a lifetime.

If selected for Team Catholic Charities NY, here’s what you’ll get:

  • Guaranteed entry into the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon
  • An official Team Catholic Charities New York runner’s singlet
  • Personal fundraising website on Crowdrise
  • Fundraising tips
  • Access to NYRR Marathon Training Program
  • Team gathering at a NYC restaurant
  • Being part of a mission that helps children and families in need
  • Two million fans cheering you on

Visit this blog regularly for updates on our team, information about how you can get involved as a Team Catholic Charities NY volunteer, and how you can run in one of New York City’s most exciting athletic events.

Know someone who’s eager to run the TCS NYC Marathon?
Share this
post with them and tell them about this special opportunity.

Find us online:

Team Catholic Charities NY:

www.catholiccharitiesny.org/TeamCathCharitiesNY

 Crowdrise:

http://bit.ly/QfVBsp

As Sandy Recovery Stalls, Wall Street Journal Interviews Msgr. Sullivan for Solutions

Monday, April 21st, 2014

By Alice Kenny

_DSC1063In the Wall Street Journal’s recent series uncovering shortcomings in New York City’s Sandy recovery programs, Reporter Michael Howard Saul turned to Msgr. Kevin Sullivan for insight. Frustrated Hurricane Sandy storm victims and elected officials, Mr. Saul reports, say City Hall has been heavy on promises and short on results.

“Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, which is helping storm victims, said homeowners’ recovery efforts ‘have been made even more challenging by layers of red tape brought on by the multiple layers of government agencies involved in the process.’”

To counter this morass, Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Wall Street Journal that his recently appointed administration has been working “day and night to hack through the red tape.”

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities continues to help Sandy victims recover.  From the time Hurricane Sandy pounded New York, Catholic Charities has been providing disaster relief to those who need it. 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.

The New York State Disaster Case Management Program run by Catholic Charities has provided information, referral and disaster case management to nearly 22,000 households.

“Families and homeowners who are rebuilding from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy are still facing a complex and long-term recovery,” Msgr. Sullivan said.  “Our long-term case management for these families is critical to navigating some of the unintended consequences that arise such as potentially higher tax bills on their property that they did not anticipate.”

Are you struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy?

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Washington Heights Students Go for the Gold

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Teenagers from the streets of Washington Heights grabbed first through sixth prizes in La Plaza Beacon’s Reading for Success Contest. Designed to develop students’ reading comprehension and expand their futures, the prizes tantalized more than a dozen participants, spurring students in this low-income neighborhood to score well on the annual New York State English Language Arts (ELA) exam.

For weeks, participants completed their homework at La Plaza Beacon, part of Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division.

Contest participants then broke into teams of three or four to complete reading and comprehension quizzes and perfect their skills writing essays.

The winner not only scored a top grade on the ELA exam but a restaurant dinner as well. Second-through-sixth place winners celebrated with a pizza party.

La Plaza Beacon teens are now readying for a math contest to prepare them for the upcoming New York State Mathematics Exam later this month.

La Plaza Beacon provides a safe, supervised after-school setting for neighborhood youth. Along with tutoring and homework help, it also offers cultural activities, arts and recreation.

Want to Volunteer but You’re Tight on Time?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

We have tons of volunteer opportunities you can do from home.

Want to flex your artistic muscles? 

We’re looking for volunteers to create paint-by-numbers style images.  We’ll transfer your images to large canvases and get fellow volunteers to fill in the colors.  When we pull the painted canvases together – voila! – we have beautiful murals that brighten our sites serving folks in need.

How about your hospitality muscles?

We need volunteers to pull together hospitality kits for folks newly arrived in the U.S.. Like hotel welcome kits on steroids, they may include in toothbrushes, soaps and other toiletries, cleaning supplies, subway maps, granola bars and other ingredients you want to pop in to welcome and help folks get their bearing.

Similarly, we’re looking for housewarming gift bags to welcome some of the 440 individuals with mental illness we serve who are moving, many for the first time in their lives, into their own supported housing home.

And here’s an opportunity to bring out your inner Martha Stewart.

Help create We-Care cards to express love, support, and encouragement for those who are struggling.  Add your own personal messages of hope and cheer such as “Welcome to New York!” “Good Luck on Your Interview!” or “Happy Easter!”

 

Join us at Catholic Charities and vol-un-teer; [vol-uhn-teer] VERB: 1. TO PROVIDE HELP 2. TO CREATE HOPE

An Inside Peek into a Volunteer’s Mantra and Motivation

Friday, April 11th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities is rounding out National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, 2014, with a special interview on our Catholic Charities JustLove radio program with Takouhi Mosoian.

“At Catholic Charities, you can see the older volunteers foreshadow what the younger volunteers will be doing later,” says Ms. Mosoian who volunteered for Catholic Charities and now works in our Community & Social Development Department.

“It’s a dedicated group of people and they love what they do.”

Listen to this recent episode as the show’s host, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, interviews Ms. Mosoian about what motivated her to volunteer for Catholic Charities.

“When I graduated high school, we had a motto that went ‘leave your community better than you found it.’ That’s something that has always stuck with me.”

Please join us during National Volunteer Week and every week to help leave our community better than we found it.

Looking for a volunteer opportunity tailored just for you?

Tune in to JustLove on The Catholic Channel 129, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.

Warning: Avoid Scams That Defraud Immigrants

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

WARNING: Scammers will advertise that they are able to get immigration documents, but may not have the knowledge, training and authorization to provide immigration legal services.

Immigrants defrauded by scammers can lose money and even be put at risk of deportation.

It is very important to get advice from lawyers with immigration experience, or from non-profit agencies that are authorized to provide immigration services under federal law.

Call the New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (toll-free in NYS) for more information and referrals to agencies authorized to provide assistance with immigration matters.

Click here to learn more about the New Americans Hotline.

Find out how Catholic Charities can help.

Check out the New Americans website for more information.

It’s NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK – Let’s Celebrate!

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Two Ten Footwear Foundation paint murals to brighten group homes for the mentally ill.

By Alice Kenny

It’s National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, 2014, our opportunity to celebrate our volunteers’ dedication in helping others and encourage others to join the movement.

And while this is Volunteer Week, here at Catholic Charities, where the breadth of the services we offer depends on giving volunteers, every day is Volunteer Day.

We already have celebrations scheduled for our Refugee Resettlement and International Center volunteers on April 22 at 80 Maiden Lane.  And our Alianza division that provides artistic outlets for teens will hold their volunteer celebration on April 24 at La Plaza Beacon.

Join us in celebrating our wonderful volunteers.

Join us in helping change lives.

Getting started as a volunteer is as easy as 1-2-3.

Step One:
Browse our site

Step Two:
Sign up for an orientation.

Step Three:
Roll up your sleeves and join us.