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

Scam Artists Are Target of Immigration Initiative

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

(L-R) State Secretary of State Cesar Perales, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Assemblyman Marcos A. Crespo, NY Immigration Coation Executive Director Steven Choi and Catholic Charities Community Services Director Beatriz Diaz Taveras

“Unethical lawyers and other scam artists that prey on New York’s immigrant community have been put on notice. The state has the means to keep tabs on them and will come down hard on anyone attempting to defraud or exploit this particularly vulnerable population,” writes Ron Lajoie in a recent Catholic New York article.

New York State’s Office for New Americans, in cooperation with a coalition of partners, including Catholic Charities, rolled out a new comprehensive initiative at a press conference at the new headquarters of Catholic Charities’ Division of Immigration and Refugee Services in Lower Manhattan Sept. 18 to combat fraud against immigrants across New York State. The initiative follows legislation recently signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo mandating stricter requirements for immigration assistance providers and tougher penalties for those who scam the system.

‘We’ve got to deliver the message that if you take advantage of immigrants it’s a crime. It’s a serious crime and we are going to prosecute you,’said New York Secretary of State Cesar Perales. ‘We’re taking proactive steps and empowering our immigrant communities through legitimate services to create a safe and fair economic landscape that will benefit every New Yorker.’

A main component of the new initiative will be the expansion of the New York State New Americans Hotline—800-566-7636—operated by Catholic Charities to serve as a resource to coordinate immigration fraud complaints as well as to offer service referrals…

Beatriz Diaz Taveras, executive director of Catholic Charities Community Services, told CNY as many as 10 percent of the calls coming into the hotline deal with fraud issues…

‘Now that we have this campaign and people are seeing it on the subways and in newspapers, we have over 200 calls a month,’ Ms. Diaz Taveras said. ‘And folks are calling about attorneys who have taken their money, who have not provided services, notarios that they have gone to that have given incorrect information. And they are asking how can they be helped and what recourse do they have?’

Knicks Legend John Starks Teams with Catholic Charities to Promote Fitness Among Local Youth

Monday, October 6th, 2014


Knicks legend John Starks spoke with children during a free basketball clinic held at Mount St Michael Academy in the Bronx at the CYO Fitness Challenge Day on October 2. Mr. Starks spoke about fitness, nutrition and how they featured in his professional career as part of a full-court Fitness Challenge effort to cut down on obesity and sedentary lifestyles among our children.

In addition to those attending the basketball clinic run by Kids in the Game, a company specializing in after-school and recess programming, over 18,000 children joined in physical fitness activities across the Archdiocese of New York, marking the start of the second of a three-year initiative.

After a successful start dating back to September 2013, over 24,000 children from 94 schools have participated in the CYO Fitness Challenge program. Through the use of the Fitnessgram assessment tool, participants have the opportunity to track their progress and receive feedback on their fitness levels.

The Catholic Youth Organization (CYO), a division of Catholic Charities Community Services of the Archdiocese of New York and The Coca-Cola Foundation are partnering in the CYO Fitness Challenge program to bring awareness and increase fitness activities among youth throughout the New York archdiocese.

The Coca-Cola Foundation awarded a three year grant to Catholic Charities Community Services to support the CYO Fitness Challenge to enhance school athletic programs by providing fitness assessments and nutrition education to 24,000 youth participants. Through the leadership of the physical education teachers at area schools, they are now able to implement outcomes-based fitness which combines a fitness assessment to benchmark progress, physical activities, nutrition education and health awareness. After three years, this program will be implemented at 225 schools/programs, reaching an estimated goal of 35,000 children.

“Catholic Charities strives to deal holistically with those we serve,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “Through the generous support of The Coca-Cola Foundation, we are able to enhance lives by providing children and their parents with tools and learning to better achieve a healthy lifestyle. These are lessons they will carry with them as they get older.”

View photos on Catholic Charities Facebook page.

Judge Sheds Robes to Comfort Traumatized, Unaccompanied Children

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

“A federal immigration judge says his priority when dealing with traumatized children facing deportation is to create a kinder, gentler courtroom,” reports Verena Dobnik from the Associated Press.

 New York’s assistant chief immigrant judge, Robert Weisel, told a City Council hearing Monday that he takes off his black robes and speaks to young children from the bench in a more casual tone.

‘Our objective is to lower the level of anxiety, lower the level of fear, because after all, when you see someone in a black robe, it’s very scary,’ the judge said.

Weisel testified before the council’s Committee on Immigration, which is assessing the needs of children smuggled into the United States from Central America. The cases of more than 1,100 of them are pending before New York City immigration judges. Some face deportation.

The City Council recently allocated nearly $2 million to Catholic Charities Community Services and its coalition of service providers to cover the children’s legal expenses.

Read the full AP story.

Agency Retreat Prepares for Catholic Charities Centennial

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

DSC_1704As an early step in preparation for the upcoming centennial celebration of The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York – just three years from now in 2017 — executive directors from our 90 affiliated agencies convened last week at the Met Life building.  They participated in breakout sessions that focused on and collaborating and networking with fellow affiliated agencies.

“As we approach the Centennial of The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, we reinforce and make clear our fundamental understanding of this federation of agencies,” Msgr. Sullivan said, “independent in governance and management, yet united by a common Catholic vision.  A vision which affirms the dignity of each person, of every religion or no religion, made in the image and likeness of God and the priority of our services and resources toward the poor and vulnerable.”

Check out photos from the event

Announcing Catholic Renewal Raises $600,000 to Feed the Hungry

Thursday, October 2nd, 2014
cath renewal

(L-R) Bill Derrough, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Honoree Alan W. Kornberg, Deirdre McGuinness, Mark McDermott

Catholic Renewal raised more than $600,000 at its Fourth Annual Cocktail Reception to assist Catholic Charities in feeding the hungry throughout the Archdiocese of New York on September 8, 2014.

The reception was held at the Kirkland & Ellis Conference Center and honored Alan W. Kornberg, Partner of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP, for his steadfast commitment to the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and the corporate restructuring industry.   More than 500 restructuring professionals attended the event.

If you were unable to attend the event but want to make a donation to feed the hungry click here.

How Astor Changed These Children’s Lives

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
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Joel Salazar holding up his diploma from the East Bronx Academy for the Future.

By Sonia Barnes-Moorehead
Executive Vice President
Astor Services for Children & Families

Like every other parent at high school commencement ceremonies this spring, Eve Murphy watched with pride as her daughter, Cheyenne, clutched her diploma. But Murphy said she was especially proud of her daughter’s accomplishment, because few students had overcome as much as she had.

“I was so elated,” Murphy said. “A few years ago, I did not see this day coming.” She added that she doubted her daughter could have reached the commencement stage at Wildcat Academy without the support of a team of clinicians, behavioral coaches, and caseworkers from Astor Services for Children & Families.

The agency, sponsored by the Catholic Charities Alliance and spanning  from Dutchess County to New York City, offers a residential home for children, child guidance and counseling centers, an early childhood and day treatment programs, home-based crisis intervention and school-based preventative services that enable emotionally disturbed youngsters to live at home and attend neighborhood schools.  An innovative leader in services for children with psychiatric disorders, Astor Services for Children & Families became one of the first mental health facilities for children in the nation to receive accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.  The U.S. Department of Education designated Astor Learning Center a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

As for Cheyenne, she began  battling emotional issues when she was eight years old that were causing her to be disruptive in her public school classroom. She was placed in one of Astor’s Day Treatment programs, which work with children ages 5 – 12 who display a range of behaviors that impact their ability to develop or attain age-appropriate cognitive and educational skills.

Day Treatment gives children the chance to thrive in a traditional school environment while receiving the intensive support they need to overcome behavioral challenges so they can re-enter public school and transition into their appropriate school placement.  In this program, Cheyenne received psychiatric treatment as well as academic schooling, and when she was ready to return to public school, a team of Astor caseworkers and counselors continued to keep tabs on her and provide her with ongoing services.

Thanks to support from Robin Hood, Astor’s Transitions team (a group of caseworkers who work with kids like Cheyenne to help with the transition process, and who stay with them throughout their schooling), is currently tracking 153 of its former Day Treatment students as they make their way through school. This year, Cheyenne Murphy and five other young adults were the first clients since the program’s inception to earn high school diplomas.

Jurine Walker, Astor’s Deputy Director for Bronx Day Treatment and Transitions programs, said she was “overjoyed” when she heard Cheyenne would be graduating. “I’ve known Cheyenne and some of these other young adults since they were in the third grade,” Walker said. “It’s astounding to see the progress they’ve made. They have to possess a lot of strength to get to where they are today. We help them set their goals and are there to support them, but they are the ones who have to assume the responsibility to follow through.”

Cheyenne, who hopes to continue her education this fall in Boston, said she was grateful for the support she received from Astor’s Transitions caseworkers. “When I was younger, the people in Astor’s Day Treatment programs helped me get my emotions under control, and later, the staff in the Transitions program helped me set goals and focus on my schoolwork. Graduation day was a great day because I could see how proud my mom was, and that made me proud, too.”

The same week Cheyenne and Eve Murphy were celebrating their milestone at Wildcat Academy, another former Astor client, Joel Salazar, received his diploma from the East Bronx Academy for the Future in a ceremony on the campus of Fordham University. Like Cheyenne Murphy, Joel credited Astor and his Transitions caseworker, Leemarie Sanchez, with helping complete his journey through high school.

“Whenever I got lazy, Leemarie got me back on track and worked with me on my goals,” he said. Joel’s mother, Jacqueline Rosario, thanked Astor for all the support its staff had provided for Joel over the past nine years. “Joel was hyperactive as a kid, but when he came to Astor in the fourth grade, they worked with him and I saw improvement quickly. And on the day he graduated, I thanked God for Astor; thanked God for Transitions. I’d recommend Astor to any parent.”

Would you like to help a child with special needs?

Find out more about Astor Services for Children

Catholic Charities Takes Kids Fishing

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

By Barbara Bedell

The Times Herald Record

Published 9/16/14

Team Newburgh, the community-based program with more than 75 adult partners, is dedicated to improving and enhancing the quality of life for young people in the City of Newburgh.

Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County is the lead agency for the TEAM which recently hosted its sixth fishing outing at Lake Washington on Little Britain Road in Newburgh.

Dawn Wilkin, coordinator of the agency’s Preventive Services, said it was a fun day with close to 70 youths from the City of Newburgh Recreation Department’s summer camp and the Youth Empowerment Center participating.

 To read this story in the Times Herald Record. 

Advocates: NY Is Leader for Migrant Children

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

10669085_10154586624835494_235170907021392108_oBy VERENA DOBNIK

The Associated Press

“New York state is a national leader in helping thousands of unaccompanied migrant children who have fled Central America for the United States, but more funding is needed to give them a normal life, advocates told state legislators during a hearing last week,” writes Verena Dobnik this week for the Associated Press.

Organizations that provide shelter, legal, medical and social services urged lawmakers at a state Assembly hearing in Manhattan to bolster aid for these children. The Rev. Kevin Sullivan, who heads Catholic Charities in the New York diocese, said the state should invest about $24 million.

‘By investing under $4,000 in each of these kids, we think you can build a future and create thousands of new, productive New Yorkers who are going to be contributing taxpayers to New York state,’ he said.

Read the full story.

Fidelis Care Donates $624,000 to Help the Poor and Medically Underserved

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

_MG_6868-smFidelis Care, a partner with Catholic Charities Community Services for nearly a decade, presented a $624,000 to Catholic Charities on September 22, 2014 to further the two agencies’ aligned mission to serve the poor and needy of New York.

The grant, the largest Fidelis has ever given Catholic Charities,  was designated to strengthen families and support individuals in fiscal crisis and actively further the health status of indigent and medically underserved populations.  It was presented to Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities, and Talia Lockspeiser, associate director of Catholic Charities Community Services on September 22, 2014 by Pam Hassen, vice president of marketing and senior programs for Fidelis along with Marketing Director George Rodriguez and Marketing Vice President Mark Scofani.

“We believe your strategies will improve the quality of life for low-income individuals while strengthening your organization,” Cardinal Dolan, a member of Fidelis Care New York and Rev. Patrick Frawley, Fidelis Care New York President and CEO wrote in a letter included with the donation.

Fidelis Care is the not-for-profit New York State Catholic Health Plan, providing quality, affordable health coverage to nearly one million children and adults in 59 counties statewide. The mission of Fidelis Care is to ensure that every resident, regardless of income, age, religion, gender, or ethnic background, has access to quality, affordable health care provided with dignity and respect. Through partnerships with providers and local community agencies like Catholic Charities, Fidelis Care works to foster healthier futures for members and their families.

City Council Chooses Catholic Charities & Its Coalition to Represent Unaccompanied Minors

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

Unaccompanied2Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan attended a New York City Council meeting today, September 23, 2014, as it earmarked a $1.9 million grant for Catholic Charities Community Services and its coalition of established service providers to give legal representation and other services to approximately 1,000 unaccompanied immigrant children facing possible deportation under a new accelerated court process.

The New York Times reported that:

The Council is to earmark $1 million,; the Robin Hood Foundation is committing $550,000, and the New York Community Trust, $360,000…

‘It’s a groundbreaking public-private partnership,’  said Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council speaker.

The accelerated process at the New York Immigration Court, informally known as the “surge docket” or “rocket docket,” began in August under a Justice Department mandate. The number of youth deportation cases has since swelled to 30 per day from fewer than 100 per month, overwhelming the legal groups that provide free screenings and legal representation to immigrant children in coordination with court officials.

The speedy deportation hearings are part of the Obama administration’s efforts to deter the illegal migration of young people from Central America. The federal goal is for children to go before an immigration judge within 21 days of being placed in the deportation process. Children could be deported within a few months, instead of years…

The $1.9 million will go to a coalition of established service providers, such as the Door, the Legal Aid Society, Catholic Charities Community Services and the Safe Passage Project. Mr. Weingartner said the Robin Hood Foundation would evaluate the program’s performance after 18 months.

Read more in The New York Times.