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

Congratulations, Good Counsel!

Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

What can be sweeter than watching a toddler take his first steps?

Watch it right here in this just-released video by Good Counsel Inc., an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

The video celebrates Good Counsel’s 30-year anniversary helping women and babies in need.

“I came from absolutely nothing,” one mom, Marisa, says. “Good Counsel took me in and got me on my feet.”

Timothy Cardinal Dolan adds his congratulations as he helps the tiny toddler and greets the moms and babies.

“You’re talking about home,” Cardinal Dolan says. “You’re talking about life; you’re talking a choice on the side of God of babies and moms and families.”

Watch the video.

Learn more.

Breaking News! Community Policing & Catholic Charities

Monday, June 29th, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-06-29 at 1.35.32 PMThe NYPD announced details last week of its new neighborhood policing strategy, reports ABC News 7.

Hundreds more beat cops are working in neighborhoods where violence continues to dominate.

Eddie Silverio, director of Catholic Charities Community Services Alianza Youth Services, joined Mayor Bill DeBlasio and others to speak about their joint work in Washington Heights.

“We continue to improve communication between youth and the police department,” Mr. Silverio says.

These 1,300 new officers aren’t just extra bodies, they’re the start of a new proactive approach to policing that involves you as a team player!

The pilot program rolled out in the 34th Precinct a little over a month ago and already crime statistics are going down. It’s a trend local  leaders hope will now continue city wide.

It’s a bold new strategic plan local leaders believe will give a much needed edge to the NYPD in the ongoing fight against crime.

1,300 additional officers are not only targeting problem areas but building real relationships with everyday people to forge a united front.

In Washington Heights where the new plan has already been executed, officers at a community meeting Thursday night encouraged neighbors to get more involved.

“We are now doing a bottom up approach where an officer knows the community, the community knows the officer, we stop the problem many cases before it even happens,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Called “One City Safe and Fair Everywhere” Mayor De Blasio along with Commissioner Bratton laid out the details of the new policing framework, which also entails additional training so officers can better engage and activate the communities they serve.

Watch the live event on ABC News 7.

Mad Men or Junior Board? You Decide

Friday, June 26th, 2015

JuniorBoard-MobileHeaderBy Alice Kenny

Decked out as our Mad Men favorites – Don Draper, Peggy Olsen, Roger Sterling – nearly 150 Catholic Charities Junior Board members and their friends celebrated the board’s Mad Men-themed gala earlier this month.

The event, in typical Mad Men style, of course included drinks, dancing, card games and mingling.  More important, these budding young members of the Catholic Charities family raised nearly $30,000  to benefit Catholic Charities St. Nicholas Project.  This year-round project provides warm clothes and necessities for thousands of New Yorkers.

“There are so many people in need,” says Grace Nordloh, a co-chair of the Junior Board Gala, “and they rely on our generosity to help them endure the winter season.”

The Mad Men series may have ended but Catholic Charities continues.

Will Don return to NYC and reunite with his children?  Who knows.

But we do know you’re very welcome to have fun with our Junior Board.

Click here to learn more.

Check out these photos on Facebook. 

With Deportations, a Single Day Can Make All the Difference

Thursday, June 25th, 2015

Photo: Getty Images

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, learn  how a single day can make all the difference.

By C. Mario Russell

One day can make a big difference. For many long-time resident immigrants who are facing a small misdemeanor criminal charges or who have served their time for a crime such as shoplifting, one day can mean the difference between staying with their families or being separated from them forever.

New York should consider following California’s example when, last year, its governor, Jerry Brown, signed a new law reducing the maximum sentence for lesser crimes–called misdemeanors–from 365 days to 364 days.

While a one-day reduction may not sound like much, it can be very important for immigration purposes.  In New York, a mother who shoplifts diapers for her baby or a teen-ager who shoplifts food from a convenience store could be being sent to jail for up to one year. This fact, alone, can make both the mother and the boy permanently barred from staying in the United States, regardless of how much jail time they got.

Immigration law lists two types of convictions that make an immigrant deportable. The first is called a “crime involving moral turpitude”, which is a certain type of crime punishable by a year or more or in jail.  Long-time residents convicted of shoplifting could not remain in the United States because their jail sentence could have been up to a year, that is 365 days. If the law were changed to make the maximum penalty 364 days, just one day less, they would not be barred from staying.

The second impact of a law such as California’s is that it reduces the risk a misdemeanor will be an “aggravated felony” under immigration law. Aggravated felonies carry especially serious immigration consequences. Not only are aggravated felonies offenses that require someone to be detained and deported, they eliminate nearly any possible defense to deportation.

But how do you know if you were convicted of an “aggravated felony”? You have to look at the long list of crimes in the immigration law, which includes non-violent crimes such as fraud and other crimes that are not a felony—yes, that’s correct—including misdemeanors with a “term of imprisonment” of a year (365 days) or more.

So, if the shoplifting mother and boy were given a term of imprisonment of a year for their shoplifting misdemeanors they will be considered aggravated felons. Yes, aggravated felons who would have to be detained and deported by immigration. Had they been given a term of 364 days, they would not.

Read this now in El Diario.

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

Hurray for Our Rising Star!

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2015

Jessica LazoBy Kristin Jensen

Jessica Lazo, a Migration Counselor at the Catholic Charities New American Opportunity Center in Newburgh, was named a 2015 Orange County Rising Star. The award recognizes up-and-coming professionals under the age of 40 who live, work  or volunteer in Orange County. It’s presented jointly each year by Junior League of Orange County and Leadership Orange.

Jessica has successfully assisted hundreds of Orange County residents with legal advice and applications for immigration benefits, including US citizenship, green cards, and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. When the immigration program relocated to the Newburgh Armory Unity Center, Jessica took on the challenge of promoting its services in the community, educating immigrants about their rights, and forging strong relationships with other agencies that serve immigrants.

“Jessica is a tireless and devoted advocate for immigrants’ rights, always going the extra mile for those in need,” said her supervisor Raluca Oncioiu, Director, Immigration Legal Services and Immigration Hotline.”

Catholic Charities Celebrates the Puerto Rican Day Parade

Monday, June 22nd, 2015
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By Teresa A. Santiago

 

From its humble beginnings 58 years ago when the Puerto Rican Day Parade was composed of Las Hijas de Maria, La Liga del Sacrado Corazon and Los Cursillistas from parishes around the City to the annual Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Catholic Church has played a crucial role in the Puerto Rican Day Parade and it is part of the parade historic legacy.

 

Catholic Charities continued this legacy last week with the participation of over 50 staff and volunteers marching up Fifth Avenue, handing out prayer cards with the Patron of Puerto Rico, La Virgen de la Providencia, sunglasses, fans and t-shirts all sporting Catholic Charities information to the 2 million people that lined the parade route.

 

But Catholic Charities’ involvement was more than just marching in the parade.  Catholic Charities has developed an important initiative with the National Puerto Rican Day Parade to provide services to the Puerto Rican/Hispanic community of New York. Catholic Charities along with the leadership of the parade began a food drive last year to support the Feeding our Neighbors Program. The food drive continued this year with Catholic high schools in the Bronx and Manhattan participating in effort.  The food collected will stay in the Latino neighborhoods.

 

In addition, Catholic Charities work with the Office of Hispanic Ministry of the Archdiocese of New York was instrumental in the planning of the annual Parade Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral that takes place the first Sunday of June. The Mass went off seamlessly. The entrance procession highlighted many Puerto Rican cultural iconic symbols, like its musical instruments: el cuatro, guiro, panderettas and maracas, images of the Three Kings, La Virgen de La Providencia and vejigante mask. Parade banners were blessed, Las Hijas de Maria offered flowers and Feeding Our Neighbors food boxes were offered.  The folkloric Mass, (Misa Jibara) was performed by La Tuna de Mayaguez, a musical choir from Puerto Rico.  Fr. Eric Cruz, Catholic Charities’s Bronx Coordinator was the main celebrant of the Mass with co-celebrants Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sulivan,  Msgr. Robert Ritchie, Rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fr. Lorenzo Ato, Director of the Hispanic Pastoral Ministry and Fr. Brian McWeeney, Director of  Ecumenical and Inter-Faith Affairs for Ethnic Apostolates, and Ecclesial Ministries and Organizations.

Rent Laws Expired But You Still Have Rights

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Tenants are fuming; others are frightened, as the fate of rent regulations remain in limbo. Days after the rent law expired, Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders remain in a standoff on how much landlords can charge for rent-regulated apartments in New York City and its suburbs.

Don’t worry. You still have rights.

According to the NYC Dept. of Housing:

If you are one of the more than two million New Yorkers who lives in rent-regulated housing, here’s what you need to know:

  • Your lease is still in effect and remains in effect through the term of the lease.
  • There are still laws on the books protecting you from harassment, and the City is enforcing those laws.
  • We have put together an emergency hotline: Call 311 if you have any concerns or questions about your apartment.
  • If your landlord is harassing you, withholding services, or trying to exploit any lapse in the rent regulation laws to get you to leave your apartment, you should call 311 immediately.

Catholic Charities supports a vast network of shelters, temporary, transitional housing and permanent affordable housing to help families and individuals.

Learn more.

 

Gender & Justice – in the Age of Mass Incarceration

Wednesday, June 17th, 2015

gender-and-justice-685

By Alice Kenny

Hard to believe – yet true. American women make up only 4.5 percent of women in the world.

Yet they represent nearly 33-percent of the world’s female prisoners!
Worse still, the number is growing in part because of the mass detainment of impoverished and persecuted immigrant women and girls who fled to the U.S. for safety.

“Detained women are already a vulnerable population; detained children, even more so,” says Catholic Charities Immigration Staff Attorney Lorilei Williams who spoke at a Gender and Justice symposium held last week at Vera Institute in downtown Manhattan. “Many detained immigrants have no criminal history, and yet they are detained in a system that is not subject to rigorous review.”

At Catholic Charities we help girls and women who fled gangs, rapes and violence that too often dominate their homelands.

Do you need immigration help?

Call our New York State New Americans Hotline operated by Catholic Charities.

1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS)

Celebrating World Refugee Day 2015

Tuesday, June 16th, 2015

By Kelly Agnew-Barajas
Director of Refugee Resettlement at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York

Staff, interns and volunteers from Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement were joined by clients new and old to celebrate World Refugee Day last Friday, June 12. Also joining them were staff and clients from fellow immigration service providers including the International Rescue Committee, CAMBA, Refugee and Immigrant Fund, and Safe Horizon.

The event was held at the Friends Meeting house in Manhattan on a hot summer afternoon. Although World Refugee Day is officially on June 20th, the celebration was scheduled earlier to allow Muslims who will be fasting during Ramadan (starting June 17th) to join in the celebration.

Catholic Charities staff and interns set up a photo booth with props and signs.  They also provided sidewalk chalk for kids to draw with. These were a big hit.

The New Americans Hotline that provides information and referrals for immigration questions over the phone  also shared resources and materials.

Everyone enjoyed homemade classic Cuban ropa vieja, Colombian ceviche, Mexican flan, cool watermelon and tons of snacks.

Tsering Dolkar,  an asylee client who was helped by Catholic Charities in 2009, came as a representative of her whole nine person family.

She described how Catholic Charities helped to provide a foundation of support and knowledge which has allowed her and her whole family to thrive. She also expressed profound gratitude for setting her and her family on the right path.

Brothers Break Barriers; Set Legal Precedent

Monday, June 15th, 2015
Vargas

Carlos Vargas

By Alice Kenny

Cesar Vargas just joined his now much publicized brother, Carlos, in breaking barriers so big that his story also landed in The New York Times.

As CrossStreets readers, you probably  remember Carlos. He interned with Mark Zuckerburg at Facebook.  He washed dishes at a restaurant to help support his family at age 13.  He put himself through the College of Staten Island, taking seven years to graduate because he held down full time jobs while studying at the same time.  But because his mother brought him from their impoverished Mexican home to the U.S.  when he was 4 years old, he could not gain legal status.

Catholic Charities helped him renew his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.  This program does not alter his immigration status but does allow him to work and not face deportation.  And The New York Times reported on our success in this New York Times Neediest Case.

Now Cesar, who, like his brother, also has DACA status, just won a precedent-setting legal ruling.  An appellate panel of the State Supreme Court approved Cesar’s application to join the New York State Bar last week.  That makes him the first immigrant without legal status to be approved to work as a lawyer in New York.

The decision could be a test case, writes The New York Times, not only for the city but also for the country.  It could affect hundreds of immigrant would-be lawyers.  And it could empower fellow immigrants who arrived as children to the United States and received a reprieve from deportation.

Closer to home, this Supreme Court decision also directly affects Cesar’s brother.  Carlos just entered law school.

And both brothers plan to continue breaking barriers.

“In the end, if you are really going to be an advocate,” Cesar told The Times, “you can’t hide and you can’t just wait in the shadows.”

Read all about it in The New York Times.