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

Catholic Charities Convenes at the White House with Fellow New York Leaders; Explores Immigrant Integration

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Members of the NYS Unaccompanied Minors Working Group, (L-R) Dr. Alan Shapiro, co-founder, Terra Firma (immigrant youth clinic), Steven Choi, executive director , New York Immigration Coalition, Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and Mario Russell, director and senior attorney Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, NY (Photo : Rebecca S. Myles)

Catholic Charities NY joined fellow key members of the New York Immigration Coalition along with nearly 200 immigrants, immigrant integration experts and leaders of state and local governments from across the country to meet with officials from the Obama Administration last week for a White House Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration. The White House assembled this group to explore how the federal government can engage with communities on immigrant integration.

“This State and this nation have profited from the great contributions that immigrants have made throughout our history,” said Mario Russell, director and senior attorney in the Division of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, NY. “We celebrate these contributions by finding how best to receive newcomers into the family of New York so that they can feel welcomed and experience success.”

Read more on the Latin Post

 

 

Pregnant and Sleeping in Parks

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

mocha-goodcounselBy Alice Kenny

Worn out, desperate and five months pregnant, Mocha slept in parks, shelters, subways – any place she could find — before she found her way to Good Counsel Homes, an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

“I felt like I was the lowest of the lows,” she says, her brown eyes batting back tears.

Her experience is typical of women served by Good Counsel Homes, says its co-founder and Executive Director Christopher Bell as he steers a 2008 blue KIA minivan, dropping off donations of diapers, baby food and changing tables at Good Counsel Homes in Spring Valley, Harrison, Hoboken and the South Bronx.

“Women who come to us are all in crisis,” he says. “Their boyfriends told them to have an abortion.  Their moms threw them out when their babies were born.  Fewer than half have high school degrees.  Our job is to help them rebuild their lives.”

Counting Mocha, Good Counsel Homes has rebuilt nearly 6,000 lives since it began in 1984.  Similar to most, Mocha stayed there for nearly a year and a half.  She gave birth to her baby, worked two jobs, studied to become an electrocardiogram technician and learned how to be a mom.

“As soon as I stepped through the door I felt I had a home where I could get back on my feet,” she says.

Begun in a converted convent with a lot of help and little money, Good Counsel Homes now networks with maternity homes throughout the nation.

But, Mr. Bell says, it is caring for a single lonely mom and a single helpless baby that matters  most.  For Mocha, Good Counsel Homes gave her and the little boy she bore a chance for rebirth.

Today she and her now three-year-old son have a home of their own.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them,” Mocha says.

Meet Mocha in this video.

Do you know someone facing a crisis pregnancy?

“Anyone from anywhere for any reason at any age can call our crisis help line,” Mr. Bells says.

Call 1- 800-723 8331.  Call now.

A Refugee Crisis, Not an Immigration Crisis

Monday, July 21st, 2014

CRISTIAN OMAR REYES, an 11-year-old sixth grader in the neighborhood of Nueva Suyapa, on the outskirts of Tegucigalpa, tells me he has to get out of Honduras soon — “no matter what,”  writes The New York Times Reporter Sonia Nazario in her in-depth analysis of the recent increase of unaccompanied minor children fleeing their homelands for safety in the United States.

In March, his father was robbed and murdered by gangs while working as a security guard protecting a pastry truck. His mother used the life insurance payout to hire a smuggler to take her to Florida. She promised to send for him quickly, but she has not.

Three people he knows were murdered this year. Four others were gunned down on a nearby corner in the span of two weeks at the beginning of this year. A girl his age resisted being robbed of $5. She was clubbed over the head and dragged off by two men who cut a hole in her throat, stuffed her panties in it, and left her body in a ravine across the street from Cristian’s house.

“I’m going this year,” he tells me.

Catholic Charities has first-hand knowledge of the trauma these vulnerable children face.  We provide legal, educational and social services to integrate newcomers of all religions from more than 100 countries.

In addition to families and adults, Catholic Charities team of lawyers and paralegals have provided basic legal orientations to almost 2,000 unaccompanied children in custodial shelters in the New York area in the past year alone, work with more than 70 sponsors of released children each month and provide individual legal representation to these children released from New York area shelters, a central step in their integration into their communities.

Link to the full New York Times story here.

Call the New Americans Hotline run by Catholic Charities at 800-566-7636 for immigration assistance.

Isolated by Speaking only an Indigenous Language

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Today marks another in our Summer Agency Series.  The series spotlights 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 Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service and a recent story written about this Catholic Charities affiliate in The New York Times.

Laura is a Mexican immigrant who lives in East Harlem, a neighborhood with one of the largest Latino populations in New York City, reports Kirk Semple in this recent New York Times article. Yet she understands so little of what others are saying around her that she might just as well be living in Siberia.

Laura, 27, speaks Mixtec, a language indigenous to Mexico. But she knows little Spanish and no English. She is so scared of getting lost on the subway and not being able to find her way home that she tends to spend her days within walking distance of her apartment.

After arriving in New York, most indigenous Latin Americans will learn Spanish before they learn English — if they ever learn English at all. The need has driven demand for Spanish language classes around the city. About a decade ago, the staff at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, an organization in East Harlem that provides services to the poor, noticed that an increasing number of the students enrolling in its English as a second language classes were not only indigenous language speakers from Latin America but were also illiterate.

Reasoning that it would be easier to teach the newcomers Spanish, which they were beginning to pick up at home and on the street, the organization turned the English classes into Spanish classes.

Beyond the critical language and literacy instruction the classes provided, they also helped the newcomers build “a much-needed social support network,” said Rosemary Siciliano, head of communications for Little Sisters of the Assumption. In 2012, however, the organization had to cut the program because of budget shortfalls.

Little Sisters of the Assumption nurses, social workers and aides began working intensively in East Harlem in 1958 and incorporated Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, Inc. ten years later.  This neighborhood-based nonprofit organization delivers a holistic model of human services to the underserved, marginalized and poorest families in East Harlem through a variety of means.  These include home visits, onsite services and support groups to help people achieve the wellness and strength they need to thrive.

 

Find out more about Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service

Read the full story in The New York Times.

Pope Francis: Child Migrants to U.S. Must Be ‘Welcomed and Protected’

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

The Pope has called for tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants to be “welcomed and protected” as they attempt to enter the U.S. from Central America and Mexico, reports Elizabeth Dias in Time magazine.

In a letter read Monday at a Vatican conference in Mexico City on human migration and development, Pope Francis said migration “has now become a hallmark of our society and a challenge.”

The Vatican Radio translation continues with the Pope noting: “Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often die, tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”

The pontiff calls on nations to become more welcoming towards migrants, singling out the increasing numbers of children who migrate alone as deserving special care and attention.

“They are increasing day by day,” the Pope said, in a reference to the rising number of unaccompanied child migrants attempting to cross the U.S. border. “The humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”

Pope Francis ended the letter by suggesting that the international community should inform migrants about the dangers of their journey and instead promote development in their home countries.

Hear more on Vatican Radio.

Find out about the host of immigrant and refugee services Catholic Charities provides.

Are you looking for immigration help?

Call the New Americans Hotline run by Catholic Charities at 800-566-7636.

Congratulations Team CYO – New York!

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014
CYO Track_Pedro Bravo

Pedro Bravo (R)

By Alice Kenny

Outstanding CYO track and field athletes throughout the New York Archdiocese converged in Orlando, Florida. last week to beat the heat as well as competitors from across the nation.  They ran so fast, jumped so high and threw javelins, discus and shot puts so far that many qualified to participate in the upcoming Junior Olympics in Des Moines, Iowa.

In this Samson against Goliath reckoning, 45 members of Team CYO New York faced off against 12,000 top athletes to bring home 10 medals from the national AAU Team Championships.  Nine of our athletes, including eight from Westchester County and one from Staten Island, won these honors at the weeklong event held at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida.

Some of the standouts include Westchester County’s Caroline Davis.  This Holy Family CYO member initially scored first-place and broke the turbo javelin meet record in the process.  Then, on her next throw, she broke her own record with a throw distance of 84 feet.

Meanwhile, Pedro Bravo from Iona Prep ran a smart, calculated race, pushing himself to the limits at the finish line to capture the 8th place medal.  This qualified him for the Junior Olympics in the 1500 Meter Race with an impressive time of 5:00 in the 12-Year-Old Boys Division.

Then there was Shari Brown from Blessed Sacrament in Staten Island who brought home a medal for her eighth-place finish with a triple jump distance of 21′ 9”.

And what about Liliana Gray from Our Lady of Mount Carmel, the only athlete to medal in two events.  She earned a seventh-place finish in the Turbo Javelin with a throw of 38’2″and an eighth-place finish for a 16’ 6″ shot put throw in the Ninth-Grade Girls Division.

“Our 45 athletes represented the Archdiocese, their respective schools, parishes and families with dignity and class,” says Catholic Charities Director of CYO Operations Seth Peloso who accompanied the team.

Click here for a list of our top winners and their Junior Olympic qualifying results.

Confronting Dramatic Increase of Unaccompanied Children, Catholic Charities Takes Charge

Monday, July 14th, 2014

The dramatic increase in unaccompanied minor children fleeing their homelands for safety in the United States has sparked political and humanitarian concerns. Best information indicates more than half of these children are seeking reunification with family members. Two-thirds are escaping violence and other threatening situations that are grounds for relief under standard immigration rules.

This current situation requires a multi-faceted approach: a humanitarian response to the plight of threatened children in the best tradition of our country; sound policies that respect individual rights and ensure a safe and secure border; and an effective system to adjudicate claims in a timely, humane and fair manner.
Providing humanitarian help stands among the finest traditions of our nation. It is a requirement of the human trafficking law reauthorized and expanded by Congress in 2008 that enables vulnerable children to receive immigration support and care in their best interest.

At Catholic Charities we have longstanding, comprehensive knowledge of the humanitarian plight faced by immigrants including unaccompanied minor children. For more than a century we have served newcomers from more than 100 countries of all religions with legal, educational and social services.

Now, every week in residences for unaccompanied youth in the New York area, Catholic Charities’ team of lawyers and paralegals provides legal and social services to unaccompanied children. We have met with nearly 2,000 children in the last year alone, work with more than 70 sponsors of released children each month and also provide individual legal representation to children released from New York area shelters, a central step in their integration into their communities.

Catholic Charities New York also recently helped found Terra Firma, an innovative medical-legal partnership designed to meet the complex medical, psycho-social, and legal needs of unaccompanied minors.

This gives us first-hand knowledge of the trauma these vulnerable children face. Catholic Charities has witnessed how deportation can be a far worse punishment than most criminal penalties, one that can mean the loss of family, home and security. It is imperative to determine the rights U.S. immigration affords these children and ensure their claims receive a fair hearing. Proposals to establish processing systems to review claims in Central American countries merit serious consideration to reduce risks faced by unaccompanied minors and other aspects of this humanitarian crisis.

The current crisis is another example of the need for Comprehensive Immigration Reform that addresses a fair and humane legal immigration system; secures the border; prioritizes reunification of families and provides for those living in the shadows a system to earn their way toward legalization.

Catholic Charities Supports Mayor de Blasio as He Signs Municipal ID Card Into Law

Friday, July 11th, 2014
photo 2

Msgr. Sullivan with Mayor de Blasio, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Councilmen Daniel Dromm, Carlos Menchaca, Antonio Reynoso and HRA Commissioner Steven Banks

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined with City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and others on Thursday, July 10, to support Mayor Bill de Blasio as he signed into law a plan to offer municipal identification cards to New York City residents regardless of their immigration status.

The program, signed into law yesterday at the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, is designed largely to help the estimated 500,000 immigrants living without legal status in the city.  The card, dubbed the New York City Identity Card, will be available to anyone who can prove their identity and residency in the city. It is particularly aimed at groups that are currently unable to show a form of government identification required to do things such as cashing a check, signing a lease or even entering office buildings for job interviews or public schools for parent-teacher conferences.

The cards will be available starting in 2015.

Listen to this clip on CBS News to learn more.

Junior Board Rolls the Dice for Charity

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

At their signature fundraising event of the year, the Catholic Charities Junior Board hosted close to 200 guests for the 6th Annual Junior Board Gala at Battery Gardens on June 12, 2014.  The evening’s theme was a Masquerade Casino Night.  Guests enjoyed playing casino games and posing at the photo booth while raising both money and awareness for the St. Nicholas Project.  Fundraising efforts surrounding the Junior Board Gala brought in more than $47,000 for the St. Nicholas Project.

Through the St. Nicholas Project, Catholic Charities helps nearly 4,000 individuals annually by providing them with essential items to help them stay warm throughout the winter season as well as job training classes, computer literacy classes, food from one of our many food pantries, and school supplies throughout the rest of the year.

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York Junior Board introduces young professionals to the varied programs and works of Catholic Charities through volunteer opportunities, social gatherings, faith-based events, and philanthropic support. The Junior Board helps cultivate the next generation of leaders committed to Catholic Charities and serving those in need in our community.

To learn more, please visit the Junior Board web page and Facebook page

Why I’m Running the NYC Marathon with Team Catholic Charities

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

nadiaBy Nadia Gonzalez

Why run a marathon? This is a question that I keep asking myself every day, and every day the answer is clearer than ever. I know I want to do it for all the right reasons; but mainly it is the ultimate goal to be part of something extraordinary. It is a personal goal to cross the finish line while helping less fortunate individuals. It is a thank you for all my blessings to be doing so. I personally have experienced my fair share of activities trying to find the one that completes me the most. I have been playing soccer for years since I was a kid. I have participated in cross country during high school. And even though running has been a vital part of my all-time favorite sport and part of my training, I have yet to complete a marathon.  It has definitely been part of my day to day activities, a stress reliever even, but it was not until last year that I decided to take it to the next level. My first official race was in May 2013. A CAMNY Cinco de Mayo 5K in NYC, and from there, I plan on adding bibs to my collection.

I moved to NYC on February 2013 as part of my job transfer. I am originally from South Texas from a family of six. I am the second to the last child; my siblings being my best friends and my parents my best teachers. They are my support system, my core, my roots and everything I believe in is thanks to them. I work in a consumer credit counseling company, where we counsel and advise individuals on where to go for assistance if our services do not fit them. Basically, I had spent most of my job referring individuals in need to the local Catholic Charities of Brownsville, where I am from. Once in the big city, I wanted to do something different; to be part of something new and exciting, but still continue assisting those who need it most. Basically, I wanted to implement a new experience that left a complete and different form of satisfaction, so I opted to volunteer for Catholic Charities’ Midnight Runs.

It is personally inspiring and motivating to participate in this marathon as part of Team Catholic Charities. It fills my heart with joy to know that I am part of a noble cause by fundraising for the less fortunate. The fact that I know that I will be running to complete this personal goal of feeding the hungry neighbors motivates me to push harder for that fundraising goal. The satisfaction is not mostly physical, but the spiritual peace and sense of fulfillment that comes with this is absolutely priceless.

I am currently back in Texas residing in San Antonio. However, I continue to hit the roads early mornings always keeping in mind that the goal to reach is not that far away; that November 2nd will be around the corner in no time. This gets me stoked to keep moving forward. I know that I will be doing something nice to someone else in need and that on its own is a very special accomplishment.

Help support Nadia Gonzalez‘s TCS New York City Marathon campaign. Click here to find out how: https://www.crowdrise.com/TeamCatholicCharities2014/fundraiser/nadiagonzalez