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

From Sleeping on Subways to Hollywood Success

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Covenant House Alumnus Moves To Next Round of American Idol! from CovenantHouse on Vimeo.

By Alice Kenny

A big guy with a big name but short on luck most of his life, formerly homeless Hollywood Anderson just won a ticket to his namesake, Hollywood, CA. 

It’s all thanks, he says, to Catholic Charities affiliate/homeless shelter Covenant House and his powerful performance on American Idol.

Mr. Anderson, 22, found safety from the city streets along with the security and support he needed to thrive at Covenant House.  His transformation from sleeping on subways to success began when Norm Lotz, a Covenant House executive, noted the then-homeless young man’s talent and passion for music.  In addition to the home, food and counseling that Covenant House provided the young man, Mr. Lotz also gave him his first guitar. 

The rest is American Idol history.

Watch the video that inspired millions of viewers.

Whiz Kid Immigrant Works with FB’s Mark Zuckerberg but Still Can’t Get Permanent Legal Status

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

photo 2By Alice Kenny

Similar to many New Yorkers, Carlos Vargas attended kindergarten through college in New York City.

Similar to very few, he worked on a mobile app with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

And similar to a small percentage, he relies on temporary, two-year government immigration renewals to  remain in the nation where he has lived since he was five years old.

In this land of opportunity, Carlos has come a long way.  His widowed mother cleaned houses, babysat and collected cans to support him and his four siblings.  To help out, Carlos began at age 13 washing dishes daily at an Italian restaurant near his home while discovering his passion for computers and eventually putting himself through college.

He qualified for DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals available to some children brought to the United States by parents who lacked legal immigration status.  After receiving DACA legal immigration status two years ago that includes two years of work authorization in the U.S., he came to Catholic Charities to apply for mandatory renewal to avoid  to Mexico, a land he barely remembers.

Read his full New York Times Neediest Case story now.

Immigration Reform Answers in Every Language

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

So many questions about immigration reform!

¡Tantas preguntas!

At Catholic Charities we have answers in nearly every language.

Join us today, Tuesday, Feb. 3, for an informational meeting held in Spanish at PS 20, 161 Park Avenue in Staten Island, to learn more about President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms.  Topics will include Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and more.

Top experts — including Catholic Charities, El Centro Inmigrante, the Mayor’s Office of Immigration Reform and more  –will be there to answer your questions.

Read all about it in silive.com.

“We Don’t Give Up”

Friday, January 30th, 2015
(L-R) Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn, and Valeriya Osipova

(L-R) Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn, and Valeriya Osipova

By Alice Kenny

New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), the not-for-profit operator of the Sandy Unmet Needs Roundtable that provides private disaster-support funding source of last resort, named Catholic Charities NY its Partner of the Year.  It also honored three of our Staten Island disaster case managers, Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn and Valeriya Osipova, for their extraordinary work helping Hurricane Sandy survivors recover.

“We don’t give up,” says Catholic Charities Staten Island Disaster Case Management  Program Manager Amy Silverman, explaining how Catholic Charities earned the awards.

Catholic Charities disaster case managers worked first with federal, state and local government as well as private funding sources to help Hurricane Sandy survivors.  But nearly all of these resources, from FEMA to the Red Cross to insurance carriers, have now completed their work.  The Unmet Needs Roundtables, operated throughout the city by NYDIS, responds to the significant need that remains.

Nursing Home Aid Cherri Puma, for example, needed to quickly restore her Hurricane Sandy destroyed Staten Island home to could care for her wheelchair-bound nonverbal daughter. So she took out loans and put bills on credit to cover the more than $100,000 reconstruction cost.  Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager Jeanne Marshall worked with traditional funding sources to recoup the costs.  When they fell short, she presented Ms. Puma’s case to NYDIS, ultimately scoring the remaining $22,000 Ms. Puma needed to pay her home reconstruction debt and obtain needed furniture and appliances.

“Jeanne will go to bat for her clients and won’t let up until the work is done,” Ms. Silverman says.

She shares this tenacity with fellow “Tenacity Award” honoree Valeriya Osipova.

“Valeriya will fight for her clients until they get what they need,” Ms. Silverman says.

They also share it with Evelyn Wilburn, who was awarded “Top DCM Unmet Needs Roundtable Presenter” for getting NYDIS awards for 20 of her clients. “Evelyn is organized and methodical, going through each case point by point so she is able to present cases regularly, and get them funded.”

In fact, all 91 cases with unmet Sandy recovery needs that were presented by Catholic Charities disaster case managers received awards from NYDIS and dozens more are pending.

“They win by being methodical, tenacious, knowing their cases inside out and getting their clients the help they deserve,” Ms. Silverman says.

By bestowing this award on Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New York, NYDIS was also acknowledging the work of Catholic Charities in directing the New York State Disaster Case Management Program.  This program provides disaster case managers to families in 13 New York State counties who were impacted by Superstorm Sandy.  With 200 case managers in 17 agencies, this program plays an essential partnership role with private funders such as the Unmet Need Roundtables in New York City, Long Island, and the upstate counties.  According to Helene Lauffer, Catholic Charities’ director of the New York State Disaster Case Management Program, “private funders rely upon disaster case managers to prepare, vet, and present cases for consideration at the unmet needs roundtables.  Through this process, and the partnership with NYDIS, disaster case managers have been able to secure funds to bring hundreds, if not thousands of clients back to stability and self-sufficiency.” 

Check out this Facebook photo album shot at the awards ceremony.

Blizzards & Hunger

Thursday, January 29th, 2015

This week’s storm couldn’t have come at a worse time.

While much of the snow missed us, severe storms make it even harder for New York families and children who are struggling to afford food.

Will you help us make sure our neighbors don’t go hungry?

Since our Feeding Our Neighbors campaign began, we’ve collected 250,000 meals for New Yorkers in need. To hit our goal of collecting over 1 million meals by February 1st, we need your help.

Donate today so none of our neighbors go hungry.

Warmly,

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

Without a Lawyer in Immigration Court, Children Are Lost

Wednesday, January 28th, 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. 

By C. Mario Russell

Catholic Charities New York

Isabel, 16 years old and 4 months pregnant, fled Honduras with her aunt last April. They were on the run because Isabel’s boyfriend’s brother, a notorious gang leader, had assassinated Isabel’s mother weeks before and they feared retribution for having reported the murder to the police.

U.S. Immigration apprehended Isabel at the border and transferred her to the Bronx for deportation proceedings. Six months later, in October, I met Isabel, who was a very young, new mother. She had not yet seen an immigration judge and her asylum-filing deadline was about to pass. She had no lawyer.

Had Isabel crossed the border alone—like the 51,000 children who did so last year—she would have been placed in temporary shelter care with the Office of Refugee Resettlement. She would also have been given a legal orientation and consultation. She would have immediately seen a judge. And she might have been assigned a free lawyer through a federal program or through a collaborative legal defense program for Unaccompanied Minors in New York City. By some estimates, almost 50-percent of Unaccompanied Minors have a lawyer.

But Isabel is not an Unaccompanied Minor. She crossed the border with her aunt so the Department of Homeland Security labeled her an “accompanied” child. This means Isabel’s deportation case was put indefinitely on hold. She was not entitled to shelter care or to a legal orientation and she was not eligible for a free lawyer. Last year, over 68,000 children like Isabel—accompanied by family—were apprehended at the border. Little has been reported about these children.

But the consequences for children facing the court system alone are staggering. Unable to mount a case in their own defense—whether for asylum or special immigrant juvenile protection—they might permanently be disqualified because of missed filing deadlines and, as a result, ordered deported in absentia. A 2011 report from a panel headed by a federal judge found that immigrants with lawyers are five times more likely to win their cases than those who represent themselves. A recent analysis shows that 90-percent of children who have a lawyer appear in court. But without a lawyer, only 10-percent, most lacking the courage, knowledge or understanding of English and U.S. law, attend these key proceedings. This should not come as a surprise. What 16 year old facing deportation to a violence-filled country would show up in court without a lawyer to defend her?

Children facing life or death consequences in immigration court shouldn’t suffer because there is not enough legal assistance. While not every child may have a legal right to remain here, each deserves due process and legal representation in court. The U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause and the Immigration and Nationality Act’s provisions requiring a “full and fair hearing” before an immigration judge should require the government to provide all children with legal representation in their deportation hearings. Isabel and children like her deserve defense.

* Names have been changed

 

  1. Mario Russell is Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane, NY, NY 10038. He teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.

Read this in Spanish now in El Diario.

Safety Tips for Today’s Blizzard

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

As Winter Storm Juno cripples commerce and paralyzes traffic, Catholic Charities urges you to:

  • Stay home
  • Stay in
  • Stay safe
  • And watch out for your neighbors

Catholic Charities echoes the warnings of NY State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio who declared a state of emergency throughout the New York Archdiocese including New York City, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester counties.

They closed commuter rail lines and forbid driving on roads.

Meanwhile, outreach workers are fanning out to bring into shelter anyone exposed to the storm.

  • Help by calling 311 if you spot someone in need
  • Call 911 if you are in immediate danger
  • Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors
  • Help those who need special assistance, including seniors and persons with disabilities

Click for the latest on subways, trains, buses, roads and rail lines.

Click for severe weather updates.

Blizzard May Trap Elderly

Monday, January 26th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

CAUTION:  Snow’s already falling sideways before Winter Storm Juno — scheduled to slam New York City by 1 pm and predicted the worst blizzard in the city’s history — has even started:

Catholic Charities is here to help.

Are you a homebound senior trapped inside by mountains of snow?

Catholic Charities, partnering again with the NYC Snow Removal Initiative, can pair you with volunteers to clear your driveway.

Important Precautions:

  • Commuter Heads up:  Metro North and the Long island Rail Road might shut down before Monday’s evening rush, Governor Cuomo warned in a recent statement.
  • Highways could close
  • Check out NYC Hazards: Winter Weather web pages for tips and information about how to prepare.
  • Get updates from the NYC Severe Weather website.
  • Get emergency alerts by signing up for Notify NYC.

Pope Francis May Visit NYC Soup Kitchens

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Breaking news.  Pope Francis, during his trip to New York City confirmed this week and scheduled for September 2015, may spend time in soup kitchens, food pantries and centers that help immigrants.

The notoriously unpretentious pope, appointed in 2013, has quickly risen as a crusader for the world’s poor and disadvantaged, reports Metro New York

“When a pope comes to visit in New York, there’s excitement. But with Pope Francis, it will be excitement on steroids,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. “I think this pope has created such excitement because of what he’s done to enable the world to understand the basic goodness of the message of Jesus … the world is taken by his ability to communicate this.” 

Sullivan said soup kitchens, as well as centers that help immigrants and refugees acclimate to life in New York would be the best place for the pope to visit to “get a good understanding of some of the hurting.”  

“Some of the most vulnerable people do have to go to food pantries for a basic nutritious meal, and it’s one of the better places to see how the church is reaching out to the poorest,” Sullivan said. 

Read Metro New York’s full interview with Msgr. Sullivan to learn more about Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to NYC.

How Do We Hope to Provide One Million Meals?

Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

FONscreenshot

By Alice Kenny

Shop for your family at ShopRite and help feed your hungry neighbors at the same time.

Sounds like an ad, right?  But it’s not.

In New York State, nearly one million children go to bed hungry. And we’re working with you, ShopRite, and other partners to pull together one million meals to feed them.

Catholic Charities and ShopRite are teaming up to help raise money and non-perishable food for area food pantries left with dwindling supplies after the holiday season, the Times-Herald Record reports in a video announcing the campaign’s kickoff.

It’s a time of year when need remains high but giving does not.

So by shopping at any one of 26 area ShopRite stores in the Hudson Valley, you can make cash or food donations to help replenish dwindling supplies.

The collection of food and funds in ShopRite stores will run from Sunday, January 25 through Saturday, February 7.

“This Catholic Charities Feeding Our Neighbors Campaign in partnership with ShopRite,” Msgr. Sullivan says in this new video, “is an effort on our part to make sure fewer children go to bed hungry.”

Watch the Times-Herald Record video.

Join us in Feeding Our Neighbors.

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