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

Cardinal Egan

Friday, March 6th, 2015

remembering-cardinalegan

Today we say adieux to Cardinal Egan.   While we will miss him greatly, we wish him well in his new heavenly home.

Much has already been said and much more will be written on the occasion of his death yesterday at age 82.  Let me share a few items from the perspective of Catholic Charities that may not have been captured elsewhere.

My words are understandably biased.  Cardinal Egan appointed me as Executive Director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York shortly after the tragedy of 9/11.  I was privileged to work together with him.   Here are some of the reasons I think he deserves  appreciation for the time he served as Archbishop of New York

He visited our Catholic Charities agencies and programs, meeting regularly and consistently with the people we help and those doing the helping.  Because he was warm and caring with them, all left feeling uplifted and supported, both with the difficult lives they lived and the difficult work they did.   Thank you, Cardinal Egan.

He built the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities,  a dedicated and generous group of New York leaders who undergird  and oversee the support we provide New Yorkers in need.  To attract these talented individuals he passed on his role as Chair of the Board to John Phelan, the former chair of the New York Stock Exchange.

In multiple ways Cardinal Egan encouraged generous philanthropic support for Catholic Charities.  One of his key initiatives involved his own Cardinal’s Committee of the Laity that he intentionally renamed the Cardinal’s Committee for Charity.  He directed the focus of this group of New York business and civic leaders to provide Catholic Charities with financial resources and counsel to amplify the services we provide and the number of people we serve.

To support partnership between the government and the charitable work of the Church he interfaced with officials in a quiet sophisticated way apart from the limelight.  When issues arose that could have damaged this partnership his efforts were effective in preventing actions that could have hurt poor and vulnerable New Yorkers of all religions.

It is also worth noting on this 50th anniversary of the equal rights march from Selma to Montgomery Cardinal Egan’s  presence during the tumultuous sixties in sharing our Church’s vision for the common good.   He was a regular participant with clergy in Chicago, one of  America’s major urban centers, as they worked to overcome racial and social injustice.

In short, Cardinal Egan effectively supported, blessed and encouraged growth of the fair and charitable work of the Church. During his tenure, the 90 affiliated agencies of the Catholic Charities federation grew from providing $500 million to $750 million of services, support that provides help and creates hope for all New Yorkers in need.

And so, again, adieux, fair well, and thank you.  Cardinal Egan, please keep in mind in heaven the needs of those of us still here below – especially, those for whom Catholic Charities provides help and creates hope.

- Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

Harlem Girl Says She Doesn’t Like Police

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

FullSizeRenderBy Alice Kenny

The words of a four-year-old Harlem girl, “I don’t like the police,” sparked a gathering of over 100 children and 40 police officers at Catholic Charities Joseph P. Kennedy Center on February 21.

The little girl, spooked by what she heard about police shootings of unarmed black men, made her comment to Jackie Rowe, founder of Harlem Mother SAVE, an organization founded by mothers who lost their sons to gun violence.

“Jackie realized at that point how our babies are affected by what they see and hear from the news, adults and teens,” says Deacon Rodney Beckford who runs center that held the event.  “Indeed, there is the effect police officers have on the community as they carry out their duty while babies watch.”

So Ms. Rowe and community affairs police officers decided to host a small event with a few children to dispel the notion that police are bad.

Instead, the event, held on a stormy winter day, was packed with Harlem children, police chiefs, captains, sergeants and patrolmen.  For four hours mounted police took selfies with children, jumped double dutch, flopped in a two-story bounce ride brought in by the police and painted faces with a clown.

New York City’s highest ranked uniform officer, NYPD Department Chief James O’Neill, fielded questions from children ages 3 – 15 as fellow police gave out NYPD basketballs and ate pizza with the children.

“To bring families and communities together is what Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Center exists to do in the Harlem community,” says Deacon Beckford.  “That’s what we at Catholic Charities are called to do day in and day out.”

Catholic Charities Faces Off Against Judicial Order Live On ABC7

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

CMarioRussellTiempoBy Alice Kenny

Join Mario Russell from Catholic Charities and Senator Adriano Espaillat on ABC7 as they take on the controversial judicial order that just blocked immigration reform.

“I think (the judge) is hiding the ball,” Mr. Russell, Catholic Charities Director of Immigration and Refugee Services tells ABC7 host Joe Torres on the Sunday talk show. “The President isn’t doing anything new that hasn’t been done before.  Deferred action is given all the time.  Employment is just a side benefit.”

So what should the 338,000 potentially eligible people in New York do in the mean time?

“This is a momentary block… that the courts will work out over time,” Mr. Russell says.

“What’s key and this is what we do at Catholic Charities is we work to keep people informed. We give presentations.  We go to community meetings. We’ve met with over a thousand people…sending the same messages-

“Don’t be afraid.  Stay informed.  Continue working on developing the evidence of your case, whether its evidence of residency, of your identity, anything else.”

Watch and learn as Mr. Russell and Senator Espaillat take this controversy head on.

 

 

Share Your Career Tips with Teens

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Catholic Charities, Career day. photo by Stefano GiovanniniBy Alice Kenny

Share your career tips with struggling teens yearning for success.

Join us at our annual Career Day in Washington Heights.

Catholic Charities Alianza Division offers its annual Career Day on Thursday, March 12, 2015.

  • Speak with teens about your career and what it takes to make it work.
  • Help us introduce teens to the world of professional opportunities open to them.

Career Day is part of our Learning to Work program, an in-depth job readiness and career exploration program at the Innovation Diploma Plus High School.

Whatever your vocation, from personal trainer to doctor or chef, you will find an interested audience.

Breakfast and lunch will be provided.

Click to register now.

 

Free Immigration Conference — Run By New York Experts

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Don’t get lost in litigation over President Obama’s Executive Action on immigration reform.

Sign up now for a free conference run by immigration experts.

Learn about the President’s proposed action that:

  •  Provides for unauthorized parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA)
  •  Expands  the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
  •  Includes other important initiatives

Take part in key-note presentations led by:

  • Faith leaders
  • Federal, state, and local officials, legal service agencies
  • Community-based agencies
  • National immigrant rights groups.

Participate in discussions that:

  • Examine federal, New York State and New York City policy, outreach, and Executive Action initiatives.
  • Explore legal services mobilization efforts by public and private entities and other collaborative programs in New York City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley, focused on outreach, public education on benefit eligibility and the risk of fraud, and provision of legal screening, representation and advocacy.
  • Address the role of non-legal, community-based institutions, particularly Catholic parishes, in ensuring the program’s success.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Catholic Migration Services of the Diocese of Brooklyn, and the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) will host this all-day event.

When:  March 25. 2014

Where:  The Sheen Center (in lower Manhattan).

Learn more.

Click to register now.

 Or email your name, title, organization and email address to cms@cmsny.org.

Free Dominican Festival & Independence Day Celebration

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Rey del Carnaval del BoulevardIvan Dominguez is “maestro” in every way, a distinguished musician and a respected teacher.

And tonight, Thursday, February 26 at 7 p.m., this Maestro and Director of Catholic Charities Alianza La Plaza Beacon will be honored at the Dominican festival of dance and song, the Camerata Washington Heights & Conjunto Folklorico Dominicano, at City College’s Aaron Davis Hall.

Eight of the evening’s performers began studying Dominican dance with Mr. Dominguez as young children at Alianza La Plaza Beacon, a division of Catholic Charities that provides cultural activities, recreation and homework help for neighborhood youth.  Now, after more than a decade training with this “maestro” they have performed up and down the East coast, from Washington DC to Providence, from Boston and tonight to Aaron Davis Hall at the City College of New York.

“It’s important for children in this multicultural country to know about our cultures, to know where we came from so we can understand ourselves and show respect to others,” Mr. Rodriguez says.

Catholic Charities along with key elected officials and organizations is sponsoring the evening’s free event in commemoration of Dominican Independence Day.

Spider-Man Reaches Out to Boy with Autism

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Spider-Man swung in for his first fantasy appearance in the Forest Hill, Queens home of this fictional boy-turned-insect’s  aunt in 1962.

Now, more than 50 years later, the superhero made his latest appearance last week in the dilapidated East Harlem apartment of Jamel Hunter, a Spider-Man-obsessed boy trapped inside his thoughts by autism.

Spider-Man’s author, Stan Lee, learned about Jamel and his obsession with the comic strip hero from a New York Times Neediest Cases profile written about this eight-year old who receives help from Catholic Charities affiliate Kennedy Child Study Center.

In an effort to reach through the autism, Mr. Lee sketched a personalized comic with a special bubble, “Hi, Jamel,” and had it hand delivered to the young boy in the housing project where he lives.

Read the full New York Times “Crime Scene” story now.

Pick Up a Basketball, Not a Gun

Monday, February 16th, 2015

basketkenn2011mothers 019By Alice Kenny

Put the guns down.
Pick up the ball.
And let’s recreate.

That’s the plea for the third year straight of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., an empowered group begun by five broken-hearted Harlem mothers who lost their sons to gun violence.

Their goal is to provide positive alternatives, specifically basketball, to keep teenage boys away from the street’s vices.

To support them, Catholic Charities will once again host a basketball tournament at our Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Center during the mid-winter school recess, starting today, February 16, and ending Friday, February, 20, 2015.  The tournament this year will be offered exclusively to teens detained in local juvenile facilities.

“Together,” they say, “we can silence the violence.”

Catholic Charities Lobbies Albany in the Front Rooms, Face to Face

Friday, February 13th, 2015

albanyselfiesBy Alice Kenny

Battling nearly a foot of snow, Catholic Charities New York representatives organized a show of force in Albany on February 9 – 10 to persuade state leaders to expand Governor Cuomo’s proposed plan to combat poverty.

They joined local Catholic Charities affiliated agencies along with the New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors that represent all eight dioceses across the state.

The troops maximized their strength on these two frigid days by meeting with every human services chair person in both houses of the legislature and with representatives from the governor’s office.

Their goal, to battle back inequality, was overwhelming.  But their plan to fund it was simple.

New York State received more than $5 billion in recent settlements with banks accused of misconduct.  Surely, they reasoned, a significant percentage of this windfall should be earmarked for the one out of five impoverished families in New York State.

Catholic Charities requests included:

  • Amplify the Governor’s proposed program to target investments in capital projects to improve the quality, efficiency, accessibility and reach of nonprofits serving New Yorkers
  • Provide adequate funding for vulnerable populations including foster children served by Medicaid Managed Care
  • Increase funding for post adoption services and child welfare agencies
  • Address soaring rates of homelessness and hunger by increasing funds for supportive housing, homeless prevention services, emergency food and outreach programs
  • Raise the minimum wage and expand the Unemployment Strikeforce to help the unemployed find work
  • Push back recent cutbacks in services for the physically and emotionally challenged by providing significant funds for permanent and supported housing
  • Help undocumented immigrants become taxpaying members of society by enabling them to apply for state college tuition and education tax credits; expand the Office of New American Opportunity Centers that provide immigrant services and increase funds to help unaccompanied minor children seeking to reunify with family members.

“Thank you for assisting all of us to give voice to the needs of those who are poor and most vulnerable,” Catholic Charities Diocese of Buffalo Director Sr. Mary McCarrick said to Luz Tavarez-Salazar, Catholic Charities NY’s Director of Government and Community Relations who helped organize the event.  “Now we pray those voices will be heard by our New York State government.”

Check out these event photos on FaceBook.

New York City’s Municipal ID Is a Good for New Yorkers and Good for the City

Thursday, February 12th, 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

The week before last, New York City joined with the growing number of cities and communities–like Hartford, Connecticut, San Francisco, California, and, as just announced this week in Newark, New Jersey —a plan that will explore offering all their citizens, residents, and members a municipal identity card. This is something to celebrate as good for city residents and good for our city.

There are about 500,000 undocumented mothers, fathers, and children who live, work, and go to school in New York City. Each day they seek the basics: steady employment, a stable family, hope for the future, and security. For the most part they are unseen and unheard. But, like silent generations of immigrants before them, each day they bring new life to this city whose economic and cultural achievements we take such pride in. Each day they contribute to its magnificent legacy.

The new ID will give these New Yorkers a chance to run their day-to-day lives a little more easily. This is good for everyone. With these IDs people will be able to cash checks, open a bank or credit account, sign a lease, and enter public buildings. Parents will be able to access public schools for parent-teacher conferences. They won’t have to worry about being turned away from visiting their child in a hospital. These are not extravagant rights for the undocumented. Moreover, these municipal IDs make work easier for everyone else including teachers, merchants, and professionals.

One of the most important life-improvements that comes with the ID is legal identification in case of a law enforcement stop, such as an arrest.  When someone is questioned by the police, an officer will often ask to know who the person is. The card makes it easier for that identity check to happen in real-time and the encounter terminates there. Again, not an extravagant right, but it makes work easier for the police and protects people.

As was said by one long-time undocumented resident, “I’m basically invisible in this city without proper identification. My husband and I work hard every day; we have children and the security that something as simple as an ID card will give us cannot be overstated.” This is not an extravagant request; just a basic wish we all share and will benefit from.

Read this recent post in Spanish in “El Diario” now.

 

C. 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.