Archive for the ‘Protecting and Nurturing Children and Youth’ Category

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.

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.

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

Children Need High-Quality Health Care Regardless of Citizenship

Monday, July 7th, 2014

By Irwin Redlener

June 25, 2014

The justified outrage over detained minors in California, Oklahoma and Texas has focused the nation’s attention on what is only the tip of the iceberg. While the number of apprehended, unaccompanied Central American children could reach 90,000 this year, an estimated 1 million undocumented children already live among us.

But this is not just a Southwestern story. In New York and other cities with large immigrant communities, newly arrived children are desperate for medical attention, legal services, and help finding family members.

Ask pediatrician Alan Shapiro, medical director of Children’s Health Fund’s Montefiore-based medical programs for highly disadvantaged kids in New York City. In cooperation with Catholic Charities New York, he recently co-founded Terra Firma, an innovative medical-legal partnership designed to meet the complex medical, psycho-social, and legal needs of unaccompanied minors. “Their life experience is marked by multiple traumas in their home countries, on their journey north and here in the U.S.,” Shapiro explains. “As a society, it is our responsibility to heal them, not to compound the trauma.”

“Tomás,” a teenage boy participating in a support group at Terra Firma’s South Bronx clinic, recently showed Shapiro a photo of a relative who had been killed as punishment for not joining a Central American gang. When the pediatrician asked who else has seen anyone killed, all hands were raised. Needless to say, this is part of a humanitarian crisis rooted in severe international poverty.

Predictably, Tomás suffered from severe post-traumatic stress disorder, which in his case manifested as depression, frequent nightmares and insomnia. But thanks to the care he (and the other kids lucky enough to have found Terra Firma) is receiving, Tomas is now going to school, learning English, and working.

Read the full story in USA Today.

Do you or someone you know need immigration help?

Call the Catholic Charities–managed New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Click here to learn more.

Child Migrants in NY Find Harrowing Journeys Continue

Friday, July 4th, 2014

The Department of Homeland Security reports that an estimated 47,000 unaccompanied children, some as young as seven, entered the United States illegally from the southwestern border region from October 2013 through the end of May 2014. That represents a greater than 100 percent increase over the entire previous year. Most of those kids were hoping to reunite with their parents in the U.S. while fleeing the epidemic of gang violence and civil unrest in Central America and Mexico. Many reported being assaulted or raped on their journey north.

Once these kids arrive in the United States, their psychological, emotional and physical wounds can be severe, said Mario Russell of Catholic Charities, which helps run a one-stop clinic that includes group therapy.

“Ten or 12 boys will get in a room together and they will talk about their experiences. And it’s amazing to see how they are finding solidarity, comfort, understanding and sense of peace. They get medical screening. They get dental assistance. They get food. They get this kind of totality of services. We keep them in the game,” said Russell.

Read the full story in Voice of America (VOA) News.

Do you or someone you know need immigration help?

Call the Catholic Charities–managed New York State New Americans Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Click here for more information.

Disabled Children Find Help

Friday, June 27th, 2014

0019_KennedyChildStC_09.04.08_BuckmanBy Alice Kenny

Today marks the second in our Summer Agency Series.  It 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 the Kennedy Child Study Center.

In 1958 when children with developmental disabilities were often warehoused into institutions, the Archdiocese of New York established the Kennedy Child Study Center to instead provide them with learning opportunities.

One of the first programs in the nation of its kind, the Kennedy Child Study Center was initially funded by a grant from Rose F. and Joseph P. Kennedy in memory of their son, Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.

Sponsored by the Catholic Charities Alliance with locations in Manhattan and the Bronx, the Kennedy Child Study Center provides educational and therapeutic services for children with developmental disabilities and delays along with counseling and support services for their families.

Help a child with a developmental delay thrive and achieve.

Contact the Kennedy Child Study Center.

Struggling Students Score Scholarships that May Change Their Lives

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Senior Awards Dinner 6-12-14By Alice Kenny

Three students from Washington Heights where the per-capita income is half that of the rest of New York City received a surprise at their Senior Awards Dinner last Thursday, June 12, that may well change their lives.

The students, former participants in Catholic Charities Alianza division GPS program, short for Graduate, Prepare, Succeed, were each handed $20,000 Presidential Scholarships to attend City College in the fall ’14. As the scholarships show, the GPS program designed to provide key support to promote higher education for low income teens clearly succeeded.

Guillermo Rivera, admissions counselor at City College, gave the awards to High School for Media and Communications Seniors Katherine Burgos, Nestor Ramos, and Jordi Caceres, praising them for their resiliency and perseverance.

“The night was filled with pride, joy, and a lot of excitement,” said Catholic Charities Alianza GPS Program Director Pierina De La Cruz. “And the night could not have ended on a better note!”

Catholic Charities Marches with Puerto Rican Day Parade

Monday, June 9th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Cheered by NYC Hispanic Society Sanitation Department members seated atop a sanitation truck, serenaded by DJs blasting salsa music and wedged between Goya and Coca-Cola floats, Catholic Charities joined the National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 8, 2014 to celebrate Puerto Rican pride, drum up support to feed our hungry neighbors and promote the vast array of services we provide those in need.

As hundreds of thousands of marchers and onlookers packed Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, Catholic Charities staff distributed prayer cards, fans and memorabilia complete with Catholic Charities phone numbers to draw attention to the growing hunger crisis and let New Yorkers know how to contact us for help.

Like the Puerto Rican community, Catholic Charities is part of the fabric of New York City.  For more than 100 years, Catholic Charities has helped solve the problems of New Yorkers in need, non-Catholics and Catholics alike.  The neglected child, the homeless family and the hungry senior among those who rely on us for help.

But with poverty up and food stamps (now called S.N.A.P.) down due to recent federal cuts, lines are growing at Catholic Charities food pantries across the archdiocese.   Hunger has exploded throughout New York; one out of nearly every two children in the largely Hispanic community of East Harlem lives in poverty.

Our Feeding Our Neighbors Campaign is fighting back with a goal of raising enough funds to provide one million meals for the hungry.  The Goya Corporation made a significant dent in this goal, splitting a donation of 5,000 pounds of rice, beans and specialty foods between Catholic Charities St. Cecilia’s food pantry in East Harlem and a food pantry run by Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

Find your friends in our Puerto Rican Day Parade slide show.

Join us in feeding our neighbors.

Do you need help?

Call

  • Our Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900
  • Our New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS)

Find out more here.