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

“Fixing NYC’s Lousy After-school Rules”

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Photo Credit: Jeanne Noonan – NY Daily News

By Sr. Paulette LoMonaco
Executive Director of Good Shepherd Services, an affiliate of Catholic Charities

(Excerpts from Sr. LoMonaco’s editorial published in today’s Daily News)

It is hard to find anyone who does not think a school benefits from having an after-school program. The programs are an ideal way to protect and nurture students while helping families juggle work schedules.

Unfortunately, well-intentioned bureaucracy is getting in the way of common sense in regulating these programs, and our children and families are paying the price.

This is a story of regulation run amok, and it starts in Albany.

After-school programs in schools are regulated by two different agencies at the state level…Their rules often come into direct conflict with each other.

(For example) Have you ever walked into a school without posters and student work on the walls? Probably not; teachers are routinely encouraged to make their classrooms visually engaging.

However, Office of Children and Family Services regulations regard those posters as a fire hazard and, as a result, there are after-school staff throughout the state who every day have to carefully take them down at 3 p.m. — and put them back up at 6 p.m…

In some cases, children are actually out on the streets because programs that would have kept them safe and engaged until their parents come home were waiting — sometimes for a whole school year — for a waiver or a minor repair. This affront to common sense is no one’s fault and certainly is not intentional, but that does not absolve us from finding a solution to the damage caused by dueling regulations.

Fortunately, someone’s listening to complaints. State Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo of Binghamton have a bill that would solve the problem, by simply waiving building-related conflicts for any after-school program operating in a public school building in compliance with Education Department requirements. It’s been approved by the relevant Senate and Assembly committees.

The legislation makes perfect sense. It does not ask the Office of Children and Family Services to change in any way, shape or form regulations tailored to protecting children in other aspects of the after-school program, such as staffing ratios, nutrition, activities or background checks. Nor will it change physical requirements for after-school programs outside a school building.

Let’s fix this crazy quilt of regulations and finally let school-based after-school programs focus on meeting the needs of our children and families.

Read the full editorial in today’s Daily News.

Struggling Students; Struggling Schools

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

IMG_8532-smBy Alice Kenny

How do we reach children and families at risk effectively and fast?  Community schools that incorporate social service and support are the solution offered by Mayor Bill de Blasio.  And it’s a solution Catholic Charities is bringing to life in the poverty and crime-ridden neighborhood of Washington Heights.

The principle behind it is simple.  Bring services to where the children and their families already are – at school.  The new community schools program pairs year-round social services with education in high-need neighborhoods.  Services range mental health support to homework help and family counseling.

The city will use $52 million to launch 40 Community Schools.  This includes the High School for Media & Communications in Washington Heights that chose Catholic Charities Community Services Alianza Division as its community partner.

The program will work in  collaboration with the principal, the school leadership team and parents.  To ensure that new programs answer real needs more than 80 students, parents, community leaders, school administrators, counselors and teachers teamed up to share their vision for the newly established Community School program at the High School for Media & Communications on Saturday, May 16, 2015.

Funds will be used to increase attendance, credit accumulation, graduation rates and family engagement.

Interested in Community Schools? Read more in Capital New York.

Top 4 Summer Deals for CYO Friends and Family

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

libertyBy Alice Kenny

Looking for great deals on summer fun for your family?

Here are our Top 4 Summer Deals for CYO friends and families!

  1. Almost $20 off Hershey Park tickets
  2. Discounts on over 200,000 hotels
  3. Enroll in Iona College basketball camps
  4. Take in a NY Liberty game

Purchase discounted Hershey Park tickets.  Use code 78164.

  • No black out dates!
  • Sign up now –Tickets purchased after July 5 cost $5 more.

Click here for $1,000 in hotel savings.  Use group code CYO.

  • This also helps CYO.  Each completed reservation earns CYO 2 % of the sale.  Proceeds go towards building the highest quality athletic programs for our kids.

Learn more about Iona Basketball Camp.

  • Contact Associate Head Coach Jared Grasso with questions:  (914) 633-2568 or
    jgrasso@iona.edu

Purchase NY Liberty basketball tickets.  Use code libertyCYO

 

More than Just BBall

Tuesday, May 19th, 2015

image1By Alice Kenny

Children from “small fries” (short for first and second graders) to “elites” (high school juniors and seniors) just learned last week whether they won CYO’s annual Art and Essay Contest.

Prize winners haled from throughout the New York archdiocese, from Staten Island, through the Bronx, over to Rockland County and all the way up to Dutchess.  Their art depended on their inspiration, from scribbled smiling suns to detailed landscapes and profiles.

And their essays focused on the hot topic of social media – does it bring us together or make us more alone and how can it be used to improve our communities?

Answers were surprisingly insightful.  One contestant, for example, said social networking reconfigures our need for our relationship with God.

Deja George from St. Francis of Assisi School in the Bronx grabbed first place in the essay contest.  Kaitlyn Piotrowski from St. Mary’s School in Dutchess came in second and Kyle Mangan of St. Claire of Assisi School in the Bronx took third. Way to go, CYO!

Three Ways to End Hunger Now

Tuesday, May 12th, 2015

St. Cecilia’s parishioner, Guadalupe Merino, writes a letter to Congress as daughter, Joyce Merino, naps in her arms.

About a hundred people from nonprofit organizations and churches in New York put pen to paper last month and wrote letters to their member of Congress, urging them to reauthorize the child nutrition bill, writes Margaret Tran, a regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Catholic Charities and Bread for the World organized an Offering of Letters at St. Peter’s Church and New York Catholic Youth Day, both in Yonkers, and at St. Cecilia’s Church in East Harlem. Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County in Haverstraw plans to host one in the future.

It is vital that Congress hears from their constituents, especially since over 16 million children in the U.S. don’t always know where their next meal is coming from.

This fall, the legislation that funds child nutrition programs will expire. The bill funds five major programs: National School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, Summer Food Service Program, Child and Adult Care Food Program, and the WIC Program. These programs serve roughly 40 million adults and children nationwide.

1. New York high school students were busy during New York Catholic Youth Day. They were simultaneously involved in a Feeding Our Neighbors food drive (cosponsored by Catholic Charities) and an Offering of Letters. The students and their youth group leaders donated hundreds of pounds of food to local pantries and wrote letters to members of Congress, urging them to support the child nutrition programs.

Youth groups were eager to write letters since they personally know students who struggle with hunger and depend on school meals every day as their only source of nutrition…

2. The senior leaders of the various ministry groups at  St. Cecilia’s also participated in an Offering of Letters… Flor Abad, case manager for Catholic Charities Community Services at St. Cecilia’s, said he was pleased that all the leaders were enthusiastic about advocacy since so many in the community are struggling.

“At St. Cecilia’s food pantry, I see families in need. I hear people who have 5, 6, 7 children in the house and don’t have food,” Abad said.

3. Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland County(CCCSR) will host a future Offering of Letters that will engage youth from county parishes to write letters to Congress. The goal will be ambitious – 1,000 letters ahead of CCCSR’s annual September hunger awareness action event.

“Policies and community efforts to increase access and provide education and resources is needed. Our goal is to build a greater sense of community awareness and build an advocacy group to end hunger,” said Martha Robles, executive director of CCCSR.

Read the full Bread for the World blog post.

Find Out the Best Way to Celebrate Mother’s Day

Friday, May 8th, 2015

Today a mother ignores her own hunger to feed her child.  She waits on line for donated clothes and alters them so her child can shine.  She foregoes sleep to work a second job that barely pays the bills.

These are just some of the sacrifices mothers make for their children. All over New York, mothers are working tirelessly so that their children can have opportunities they themselves may have only dreamt of.With Mother’s Day drawing near, we invite you to honor a wonderful woman — your own mother — by supporting mothers and children in need.

Their future and the future of their children can be brighter thanks to your support.

Personal Stories About Growing Up in Foster Care

Wednesday, May 6th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

After growing up in foster care, Patricia Yates, now 29, says she gained not only sadness but also strength from the challenges she faced.  She draws on this to work as a case manager helping others in need.

“It was difficult growing up without my biological family but I made it with a lot of loving people that saw my potential,” she says in this just-released video by Cardinal McCloskey Community Services, a Catholic Charities affiliate that helped her and fellow children and families in need.

“What it offered,” adds Nerine Hastins, another former foster-care child helped by Cardinal McCloskey, “was it gave me the chance to be the person I am.”

The agency’s success is so great that Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino recently proclaimed “Cardinal McCloskey Community Services Recognition Day.”

Watch Patricia, Nerine and four of their friends served by Cardinal McCloskey Community Services.

Find out why Westchester County named a day after this Catholic Charities affiliate.

Parallels Between My Jewish Faith & the Mission of Catholic Charities

Wednesday, April 29th, 2015

meiraFordham University social work graduate student Meira Zack is completing an 8-month internship with Catholic Charities Community Services.

By Meira Zack

I am Jewish and interning here at Catholic Charities has been my first real exposure to Catholicism and its observances. What better place to experience it than the Archdiocese!

As a religious individual, I have always been inspired by the mission-driven attitude behind our work at Catholic Charities Community Services.  This meaningful connection was intensified for me by the period of Lent and the Lenten message repeated in multiple agency emails: “Forty days before Easter when, through prayer, sacrifice and helping others, we transform our Christian love into action.”

This message particularly spoke to me because it parallels the three-fold mantra of the Jewish High Holy Days “Teshuva, Tefeela, uTzedaka, ma’aveerin et ro’ah hagezayra – Repentance, Prayer, and Giving revoke the evil decree.”

It inspired me to meditate on the messages of Teshuva, Tefeela, and Tzedaka, and what they have meant to me in the context of my time here at Catholic Charities.

  • Teshuva/Repentance – repairing damage done and healing wounds between self and God and self and others.  At Catholic Charities Community Services, we repair the relationship between society and its vulnerable populations; we help clients repair damage done in their personal lives.
  • Tefeela/Prayer – faith in God, supplication to God, dialogue with God; communal prayer and solidarity.  At Catholic Charities Community Services we are in a unique position where clients may ask us to pray with or for them; where they may turn to us for religious inspiration and hope.
  • Tzedaka/Giving – giving of one’s self, time, and money.  At Catholic Charities Community Services, we not only give of our time and selves in the work we do every do with clients, but also of our own resources in raising funds for the St. Nicholas Project and pantry items for Feeding Our Neighbors.

The united messages of “prayer-sacrifice-helping others” and “repentance-prayer-giving” teach the same lessons of repair, giving, honesty and togetherness with a focus on God as inspiration, partner, and conduit for “providing help, creating hope, and upholding the dignity of each person as made in the image of God by serving the basic needs of the poor, troubled, frail and oppressed of all religions.”

This is the vision and mission of Catholic Charities.