Archive for the ‘Strengthening Families and Resolving Crises’ Category

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.

Pope Francis: Child Migrants to U.S. Must Be ‘Welcomed and Protected’

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

The Pope has called for tens of thousands of unaccompanied child migrants to be “welcomed and protected” as they attempt to enter the U.S. from Central America and Mexico, reports Elizabeth Dias in Time magazine.

In a letter read Monday at a Vatican conference in Mexico City on human migration and development, Pope Francis said migration “has now become a hallmark of our society and a challenge.”

The Vatican Radio translation continues with the Pope noting: “Many people forced to emigrate suffer, and often die, tragically; many of their rights are violated, they are obliged to separate from their families and, unfortunately, continue to be the subject of racist and xenophobic attitudes.”

The pontiff calls on nations to become more welcoming towards migrants, singling out the increasing numbers of children who migrate alone as deserving special care and attention.

“They are increasing day by day,” the Pope said, in a reference to the rising number of unaccompanied child migrants attempting to cross the U.S. border. “The humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.”

Pope Francis ended the letter by suggesting that the international community should inform migrants about the dangers of their journey and instead promote development in their home countries.

Hear more on Vatican Radio.

Find out about the host of immigrant and refugee services Catholic Charities provides.

Are you looking for immigration help?

Call the New Americans Hotline run by Catholic Charities at 800-566-7636.

Junior Board Rolls the Dice for Charity

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

At their signature fundraising event of the year, the Catholic Charities Junior Board hosted close to 200 guests for the 6th Annual Junior Board Gala at Battery Gardens on June 12, 2014.  The evening’s theme was a Masquerade Casino Night.  Guests enjoyed playing casino games and posing at the photo booth while raising both money and awareness for the St. Nicholas Project.  Fundraising efforts surrounding the Junior Board Gala brought in more than $47,000 for the St. Nicholas Project.

Through the St. Nicholas Project, Catholic Charities helps nearly 4,000 individuals annually by providing them with essential items to help them stay warm throughout the winter season as well as job training classes, computer literacy classes, food from one of our many food pantries, and school supplies throughout the rest of the year.

The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York Junior Board introduces young professionals to the varied programs and works of Catholic Charities through volunteer opportunities, social gatherings, faith-based events, and philanthropic support. The Junior Board helps cultivate the next generation of leaders committed to Catholic Charities and serving those in need in our community.

To learn more, please visit the Junior Board web page and Facebook page

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.

Giving Ex-Offenders a Second Chance

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

By Alice KennyATI & Families Shared Meal Time

The Catholic Charities federation of 90 agencies provides a wide range of human services throughout the Archdiocese of New York. Some are sponsored by religious communities, while others have grown from parish communities. Still others were founded by charismatic clergy, religious, or lay leaders. Together they form the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York: a federation of administered, sponsored and affiliated agencies touching almost every human need.

This summer offers a great time to spotlight their impressive histories and the unique, unparalleled services they offer.  Today, let’s learn about Abraham House.

This Catholic Charities sponsored agency traces its origins to two Roman Catholic clergy, Sr. Simone Ponnet, a Belgian nun of the Little Sisters of the Gospel order and Fr. Peter Raphael, a French priest who volunteered as a chaplain and celebrated mass with inmates at Rikers Island maximum-security prison.

Alarmed by the continuing cycle of repeat offenders, they founded Abraham House in 1993. Located in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx, Abraham House offers the incarcerated, ex-offenders and their relatives, regardless of their religion, a place of hope and community where lives can be rebuilt, families mended, lessons learned, and men, women and children deeply marked by crime can receive the spiritual, social and practical tools to become productive citizens.

Their innovative programs include an alternative-to-incarceration program for first-time offenders, especially those convicted of nonviolent crimes. Sponsored by the Catholic Charities Alliance, Abraham House offers extensive services to hundreds of adults and children affected by incarceration or other social factors like poverty, violence and truancy.

Find out more.

Little Jocelyn Farms for Food & Freedom

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

jocelynBy Alice Kenny

As a light breeze brushes freshly tilled soil, Jocelyn, 5, picks up a hammer to help her dad build a family garden.

It’s a magical moment for her family, a time when Jocelyn, her mom, dad, and big brother Steven, 7, think about working the soil and enjoying the sun, about picking tomatoes, peppers and beans.  Best of all, it’s a time when they don’t think about growling bellies or the daily search for work.

Jocelyn’s father belongs to Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area served by Catholic Charities.  Here they learn about employment rights to prevent their exploitation and abuse, receive assistance collecting unpaid wages, get help accessing healthcare services, participate in English and computer skills classes and receive emergency food to supplement their gardens’ bounty.

Most importantly, Catholic Charities helps Jocelyn and families like hers become independent.  The community garden on Oak Street in Yonkers where Jocelyn helps her family is one of two community gardens maintained by and for day laborers.

The land, donated by the Greyston Foundation, an integrated network of programs that help families move toward self-sufficiency, had been littered with plastic bags and rotting garbage.  The laborers tossed out the garbage, built a fence to keep out future litter and are hammering together 22 boxes so that Obreros Unidos de Yonkers  families can  reap the harvest from  their own plots of land.

This community garden is one of two maintained by Obreros Unidos. The second, tilled right in front of the Catholic Charities offices on Hawthorne Avenue in Yonkers represents a joint effort between Catholic Charities Community Services, the Greyston Foundation, YMCA of Yonkers and Habitat for Humanity of Westchester.

“The gardens enable families, many who worked as farmers in the South and Central American nations where they were born, to share this tradition with their children while teaching them the importance of hard work and community,” says Catholic Charities Day Laborer Organizer Janet Hernández.

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.

Did You Hear About the NY All Stars Who Teamed with Golfers to Raise Funds for Families in Need?

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
Bill Purty, Joe Torre, Dick Cummins and Rusty Staub

Bill Purty, Joe Torre, Dick Cummins and Rusty Staub (L-R)

New York All-Stars including former New York Mets player Rusty Staub, former New York Jets player Joe Klecko, former New York Yankees Manager Joe Torre and retired professional Heavyweight Boxer Gerry Cooney teamed up with a field of 58 golf foursomes to help raise $650,000 for families in need at the Annual Cardinal’s Open on May 12, 2014.

After a shotgun start, golfers began their rounds on the South and West courses at Westchester Country Club in Rye, New York, competing in longest drive and closest-to-the-pin competitions, and for a brand new Lexus in the hole-in-one competition.

The day ended with a cocktail reception, dinner and live auction where participants met with Rusty Staub who served as auctioneer along with Joe Klecko who joined in for some special items. Auction items included trips to Pebble Beach and Kiawah Island, along with foursomes to top-rated courses.

This is signature event of the Cardinal’s Committee for Charity, (CCC), a membership of caring leaders in the New York business community who support Catholic Charities at the request His Eminence Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York. The generosity of these members enables tens of thousands of individuals and families live with greater dignity through the compassionate help of Catholic Charities.

Learn more about the Cardinal’s Committee for Charity.

Check out our Events Calendar.

 

Alicia, a Foster Parent, Shares Her Pain and Gains

Friday, May 30th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Alicia already had three young children when she and her husband decided to open their hearts and home to a foster child.

So they took in a homeless, pregnant teen. But after the baby’s birth, after Alicia and her family had grown to love the teen and her baby as their own, the young girl was allowed to return to her own family.

In a video interview, Alicia shares how she and her family still miss their foster daughter deeply. And they miss the first smiles, the first words and first steps they will never see taken by their foster grandchild.

Taking in a foster child, a child often battered, bruised and cautious around all those who care, is tough. But the special love that foster parents such as Alicia provide can make all the difference in a child’s life.

To thank Alicia and fellow foster parents we are celebrating National Foster Care Month.

There are 11,000 children living in foster care in New York City, more than 400,000 nationwide. They include children abused and alone, adolescents whose lives have gone off track, families breaking apart.

These children, with troubles undeserved facing crises beyond their capacity to understand and control, find help through special foster parents such as Alicia.

All children deserve a loving, safe, and permanent family. Catholic Charities agencies are committed to reuniting children who are in foster care with their biological families whenever it is safe and appropriate. When working with some families proves unsuccessful, efforts are made to secure an appropriate adoptive family so the child can grow up in a stable, secure, and loving environment.

Learn more about becoming a foster parent.

  • Listen as Msgr. Kevin Sullivan speaks with Grace Poppe, Deputy Director of Social Services for Catholic Guardian Services about foster care on JustLove, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio on The Catholic Channel 129.
  • Find out  about Catholic Charities affiliated agencies that, day in and day out, provide critical support for children and families in crisis.
  • Check out Alicia’s story.