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

Top 4 Summer Deals for CYO Friends and Family

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

libertyBy Alice Kenny

Looking for great deals on summer fun for your family?

Here are our Top 4 Summer Deals for CYO friends and families!

  1. Almost $20 off Hershey Park tickets
  2. Discounts on over 200,000 hotels
  3. Enroll in Iona College basketball camps
  4. Take in a NY Liberty game

Purchase discounted Hershey Park tickets.  Use code 78164.

  • No black out dates!
  • Sign up now –Tickets purchased after July 5 cost $5 more.

Click here for $1,000 in hotel savings.  Use group code CYO.

  • This also helps CYO.  Each completed reservation earns CYO 2 % of the sale.  Proceeds go towards building the highest quality athletic programs for our kids.

Learn more about Iona Basketball Camp.

  • Contact Associate Head Coach Jared Grasso with questions:  (914) 633-2568 or
    jgrasso@iona.edu

Purchase NY Liberty basketball tickets.  Use code libertyCYO

 

Catholic Charities Takes Charge When the Melting Pot Boils Over

Wednesday, May 20th, 2015

Victor Cueva, 25, an Immigrant Justice Corps fellow. He is eager to give new immigrants in the Hudson Valley the help his family did not receive when it arrived there from Peru. Credit Nicole Bengiveno/The New York Times

By Liz Robbins

The New York Times

(Excerpt below)

New York City’s melting pot has been boiling over in the larger metropolitan area…

The city is where most of the funding for legal assistance has been concentrated before this year…But only a smaller amount of state and private funding for services and lawyers has gone to nonprofit organizations outside the city.

“The lower Hudson Valley, like Long Island, is critical to New York life, and there’s this swath of human beings who support those structures, and yet there is really nothing to support them,” said Mario Russell, the director of immigrant and refugee services for Catholic Charities Community Services.

The organization, under the auspices of the New York Archdiocese, oversees part of New York City, and Westchester, Orange, Rockland, Putnam, Sullivan, Ulster and Dutchess Counties. For decades, those counties have had only paralegals processing requests, such as green card applications, deferred action for childhood arrivals and adjudication of unaccompanied minors’ deportation claims…

Victor Cueva, a 25-year-old Justice Corps fellow and soon-to-be graduate of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, is eager to give new immigrants in the Hudson Valley the help his family did not receive when it arrived there…

He and another Justice Corps fellow, John Travis, will work in Catholic Charities’ Poughkeepsie and Newburgh offices part of the week, and the other days in Manhattan at 26 Federal Plaza, New York’s immigration court, serving clients from the lower Hudson Valley region.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

More than Just BBall

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

image1By Alice Kenny

Children from “small fries” (short for first and second graders) to “elites” (high school juniors and seniors) just learned last week whether they won CYO’s annual Art and Essay Contest.

Prize winners haled from throughout the New York archdiocese, from Staten Island, through the Bronx, over to Rockland County and all the way up to Dutchess.  Their art depended on their inspiration, from scribbled smiling suns to detailed landscapes and profiles.

And their essays focused on the hot topic of social media – does it bring us together or make us more alone and how can it be used to improve our communities?

Answers were surprisingly insightful.  One contestant, for example, said social networking reconfigures our need for our relationship with God.

Deja George from St. Francis of Assisi School in the Bronx grabbed first place in the essay contest.  Kaitlyn Piotrowski from St. Mary’s School in Dutchess came in second and Kyle Mangan of St. Claire of Assisi School in the Bronx took third. Way to go, CYO!

Harvard Law Touts Groundbreaking Catholic Charities Project

Wednesday, May 13th, 2015

Credit: Mark Bonifacio

By Kim Ashton

Harvard Law Today

When Vladimir Gongora, a deaf teenager who fled El Salvador, first met with Brett Stark ’12 two years ago in the Immigrant and Refugee Services Division at Catholic Charities in New York, the two had to draw pictures to communicate. Vladimir had never been taught to write or use sign language, and he needed Stark to help him win the legal right to stay in the United States.

Stark found him a special interpreter, one versed in communicating with hearing-impaired people without formal language skills. He then built a successful asylum case for the teenager on the grounds that Salvadoran law forbade people with serious disabilities from marrying or even acquiring a passport.

This was part of the inspiration for Terra Firma, a project co-founded by Stark, with Dr. Alan Shapiro and Dr. Cristina Muniz De la Pena, which offers legal and health services to unaccompanied minors who’ve crossed into the U.S.

Initially started with funding from an Equal Justice Works fellowship, Terra Firma is now supported by Catholic Charities, Montefiore Medical Center, and the Children’s Health Fund, and more sources of private and public funding may become available as the issue of unaccompanied immigrant children attracts more national attention.

Terra Firma provides a panoply of services to young people like Vladimir, to address the wide range of issues that often accompany their cases. This holistic approach not only helps to meet children’s immediate needs; it helps Stark in the courtroom.

Reports by Terra Firma doctors and mental health professionals often include evidence that children were persecuted and even faced life-threatening dangers in their home countries. In addition, medical and mental health providers can help to stabilize children, preparing them to assist and testify in their own cases.

Terra Firma has worked with around 100 children so far, and it is expecting to see twice as many over the next year. Clients in immigration cases, including children, do not have the legal right to publicly funded immigration lawyers, so the demand is great.

Read the full story in Harvard Law Today.

Three Ways to End Hunger Now

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

St. Cecilia’s parishioner, Guadalupe Merino, writes a letter to Congress as daughter, Joyce Merino, naps in her arms.

About a hundred people from nonprofit organizations and churches in New York put pen to paper last month and wrote letters to their member of Congress, urging them to reauthorize the child nutrition bill, writes Margaret Tran, a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Catholic Charities and Bread for the World organized an Offering of Letters at St. Peter’s Church and New York Catholic Youth Day, both in Yonkers, and at St. Cecilia’s Church in East Harlem. Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County in Haverstraw plans to host one in the future.

It is vital that Congress hears from their constituents, especially since over 16 million children in the U.S. don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.

This fall, the legislation that funds child nutrition programs will expire. The bill funds five major programs: National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Program. These programs serve roughly 40 million adults and children nationwide.

1. New York high school students were busy during New York Catholic Youth Day. They were simultaneously involved in a Feeding Our Neighbors food drive (cosponsored by Catholic Charities) and an Offering of Letters. The students and their youth group leaders donated hundreds of pounds of food to local pantries and wrote letters to members of Congress, urging them to support the child nutrition programs.

Youth groups were eager to write letters since they personally know students who struggle with hunger and depend on school meals every day as their only source of nutrition…

2. The senior leaders of the various ministry groups at  St. Cecilia’s also participated in an Offering of Letters… Flor Abad, case manager for Catholic Charities Community Services at St. Cecilia’s, said he was pleased that all the leaders were enthusiastic about advocacy since so many in the community are struggling.

“At St. Cecilia’s food pantry, I see families in need. I hear people who have 5, 6, 7 children in the house and don’t have food,” Abad said.

3. Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County(CCCSR) will host a future Offering of Letters that will engage youth from county parishes to write letters to Congress. The goal will be ambitious – 1,000 letters ahead of CCCSR’s annual September hunger awareness action event.

“Policies and community efforts to increase access and provide education and resources is needed. Our goal is to build a greater sense of community awareness and build an advocacy group to end hunger,” said Martha Robles, executive director of CCCSR.

Read the full Bread for the World blog post.

Hard to Believe But True: Find Out About Potentially Good News During Deportations

Monday, May 11th, 2015

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.

Learn this week in El Diario  about a possible silver lining for a lucky few during deportation proceedings.

By C. Mario Russell

Immigrants who have lived in the United States for a long time and seek legal help regularly ask: “Can I get my residence under the Ten-Year Residence Law?” You may be wondering the same thing.

The answer, for better or worse, is always the same: “It depends.”

The ten-year residence law, called “Cancellation of Removal,” was created by Congress in 1996 to help long-time undocumented residents living in the United States receive legal permanent residence.  A key point is that it is available only to immigrants whose case is being heard by an Immigration Judge. Let me repeat, no one is eligible for this residence unless he or she is presently in immigration court in deportation proceedings.

To qualify for cancellation of removal and receive legal permanent residence, you must:

  • have continuously resided in the U.S. for at least ten years
  • have had good moral character for ten years
  • prove that your deportation would cause “exceptional and extremely unusual hardship” to a relative who is a U.S. citizen or permanent resident, meaning a spouse, parent or child

This is a difficult burden, and the results of these cases vary depending on the prosecutor and the judge. Cancellation of Removal cases are especially complicated to prepare because they require lots of documentation.  They also require a competent attorney who spends hours helping witness prepare for and give their testimony.

Take for example, someone who entered the U.S. from Mexico in 2003, married another Mexican national and had two children while in the U.S.  Since the children were born here, they are U.S.  citizens.  During his time in the U.S., he worked and paid taxes (or is willing to pay back taxes) and has no criminal record.  If that individual wound up in removal proceedings, he could apply for Cancellation of Removal and argue that his removal to Mexico would cause exceptional and extremely unusual hardship to his U.S. citizen children.  His life, his contributions to our society, and the needs of his children would be the subject of a real inquiry by an Immigration Judge.  Sometimes, U.S. citizen children may have special medical or educational needs that would be inadequately treated in another country if they were to move there with their parents.

Finally, only 4,000 immigrants can be granted Cancellation of Removal in any year.  Per year.  Nationwide.

Therefore, under no circumstances should any lawyer or preparer of any kind offer to file a Cancellation of Removal claim if there is no immigration court case. And, even then, the decision to pursue it should be made carefully, as the result will always “depend”.

Read the full post in Spanish in El Diario.

Mario Russell is Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane NYC and teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.

Find Out the Best Way to Celebrate Mother’s Day

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Today a mother ignores her own hunger to feed her child.  She waits on line for donated clothes and alters them so her child can shine.  She foregoes sleep to work a second job that barely pays the bills.

These are just some of the sacrifices mothers make for their children. All over New York, mothers are working tirelessly so that their children can have opportunities they themselves may have only dreamt of.With Mother’s Day drawing near, we invite you to honor a wonderful woman — your own mother — by supporting mothers and children in need.

Their future and the future of their children can be brighter thanks to your support.

The Best Way to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

astorservicesposter
By Alice Kenny

Stand up against stigma today, May 7, 2015,  National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.

There are few things sadder than a child struggling with mental health. Yet far too many face this struggle.

Did you know that:

  • One in five children has a seriously debilitating mental disorder? (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Please remember that if you or someone you know is fighting mental disorders, you are not alone.  It is nothing to be ashamed of  and we are here to help.

Our Catholic Charities affiliate, Astor Services for Children and Families, is renowned for the mental health services it provides.  In fact, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray met with Astor staff on April 29th to discuss the value of its services and the experiences of her daughter who suffered from depression.

Check out Astor’s website and Facebook page for suggestions on how to improve your mental health.

If you have any questions or need immediate information, contact Astor by e-mail or by calling (845) 871-1117.

Join us as we proclaim that there is no health without mental health.

Personal Stories About Growing Up in Foster Care

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

After growing up in foster care, Patricia Yates, now 29, says she gained not only sadness but also strength from the challenges she faced.  She draws on this to work as a case manager helping others in need.

“It was difficult growing up without my biological family but I made it with a lot of loving people that saw my potential,” she says in this just-released video by Cardinal McCloskey Community Services, a Catholic Charities affiliate that helped her and fellow children and families in need.

“What it offered,” adds Nerine Hastins, another former foster-care child helped by Cardinal McCloskey, “was it gave me the chance to be the person I am.”

The agency’s success is so great that Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino recently proclaimed “Cardinal McCloskey Community Services Recognition Day.”

Watch Patricia, Nerine and four of their friends served by Cardinal McCloskey Community Services.

Find out why Westchester County named a day after this Catholic Charities affiliate.

Three Surprise Lessons Learned

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015
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Fordham University Social Work Graduate Student, Elsie Hernandez

Join us below as Fordham University Social Work Graduate Student Elsie Hernandez reflects on lessons learned during the 8-month internship she is completing with Catholic Charities Community Services.

By Elsie Hernandez

I have my colleagues, supervisors, and our clients to thank for their role in my education—I have learned the most by working with them. If I could summarize a year’s worth of learning in three lessons it would be this:

1. Never be afraid of asking questions. Asking the right question can open up a world of possibilities.

For example, a client whose work hours had recently decreased and was on a limited income had her electricity cut off. She did not understand why Con Edison required full payment of $2900 to reconnect services. I watched as a Catholic Charities case manager contacted Con Edison to request a breakdown of the client’s bill. At that point the Con Edison representative noticed that $2400 was added to the account in one day from back charges that had never been included in her account in the last 6 years. Understanding that this was an unrealistic payment for the client to make, the representative asked her supervisor to make an exception. The client was provided a payment plan with a low deposit and services were reconnected the next day.

2. Trust in your client’s resiliency.

We cannot solve every problem. Clients have surprised me with the enormous amount of strength and resourcefulness that they possess. They have expressed hope, faith and optimism in the face of adversity. A college student asked for assistance with paying for the class she needed to graduate. Together we brainstormed for resources she could activate.  This empowered her to creatively come up with solutions to solve her own problem. She will be graduating this May.

3. You never know which of your actions will have the most meaning to your clients.

A client was seeking assistance with paying her utility arrears. I was able to refer the client to the Human Resources Administration (HRA) for help.  Catholic Charities was also able to provide her with emergency food and a winter coat. I thought I did not do enough to help her but the client was moved to tears.