Archive for the ‘Strengthening Families and Resolving Crises’ Category

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.

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.

Migrant Children: A Four Part Series

Monday, February 9th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Fifteen years old, hungry and alone, Elvis Garcia hitched rides, scrambled atop freight trains and dragged himself through 1,200 miles of deserts to reach his promised land, the United States.

Now this former unaccompanied minor works for Catholic Charities, helping fellow young immigrants survive  and thrive.

Catch this powerful 4-part News 12 series when it airs its first program today, Monday, February 9, 2015.

Human Trafficking: Don’t Look the Other Way

Friday, February 6th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Join us this Sunday, February 8, as we raise awareness to this horror during the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.

Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labor,” says Pope Francis.  “Let us not look the other way.  There is greater complicity than we think.  The issue involves everyone!”

Catholic Charities helps victims who have undergone the horrendous humiliation of human trafficking regain their dignity.  We provide legal and social services.  And we run Dignity of Work, an initiative of the Anti-Trafficking Program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, that helps new arrivals train for and land jobs to support themselves and their families.

Do you need help?  Call our New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS).

Learn more and join us.

“We Don’t Give Up”

Friday, January 30th, 2015
(L-R) Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn, and Valeriya Osipova

(L-R) Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn, and Valeriya Osipova

By Alice Kenny

New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), the not-for-profit operator of the Sandy Unmet Needs Roundtable that provides private disaster-support funding source of last resort, named Catholic Charities NY its Partner of the Year.  It also honored three of our Staten Island disaster case managers, Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn and Valeriya Osipova, for their extraordinary work helping Hurricane Sandy survivors recover.

“We don’t give up,” says Catholic Charities Staten Island Disaster Case Management  Program Manager Amy Silverman, explaining how Catholic Charities earned the awards.

Catholic Charities disaster case managers worked first with federal, state and local government as well as private funding sources to help Hurricane Sandy survivors.  But nearly all of these resources, from FEMA to the Red Cross to insurance carriers, have now completed their work.  The Unmet Needs Roundtables, operated throughout the city by NYDIS, responds to the significant need that remains.

Nursing Home Aid Cherri Puma, for example, needed to quickly restore her Hurricane Sandy destroyed Staten Island home to could care for her wheelchair-bound nonverbal daughter. So she took out loans and put bills on credit to cover the more than $100,000 reconstruction cost.  Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager Jeanne Marshall worked with traditional funding sources to recoup the costs.  When they fell short, she presented Ms. Puma’s case to NYDIS, ultimately scoring the remaining $22,000 Ms. Puma needed to pay her home reconstruction debt and obtain needed furniture and appliances.

“Jeanne will go to bat for her clients and won’t let up until the work is done,” Ms. Silverman says.

She shares this tenacity with fellow “Tenacity Award” honoree Valeriya Osipova.

“Valeriya will fight for her clients until they get what they need,” Ms. Silverman says.

They also share it with Evelyn Wilburn, who was awarded “Top DCM Unmet Needs Roundtable Presenter” for getting NYDIS awards for 20 of her clients. “Evelyn is organized and methodical, going through each case point by point so she is able to present cases regularly, and get them funded.”

In fact, all 91 cases with unmet Sandy recovery needs that were presented by Catholic Charities disaster case managers received awards from NYDIS and dozens more are pending.

“They win by being methodical, tenacious, knowing their cases inside out and getting their clients the help they deserve,” Ms. Silverman says.

By bestowing this award on Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New York, NYDIS was also acknowledging the work of Catholic Charities in directing the New York State Disaster Case Management Program.  This program provides disaster case managers to families in 13 New York State counties who were impacted by Superstorm Sandy.  With 200 case managers in 17 agencies, this program plays an essential partnership role with private funders such as the Unmet Need Roundtables in New York City, Long Island, and the upstate counties.  According to Helene Lauffer, Catholic Charities’ director of the New York State Disaster Case Management Program, “private funders rely upon disaster case managers to prepare, vet, and present cases for consideration at the unmet needs roundtables.  Through this process, and the partnership with NYDIS, disaster case managers have been able to secure funds to bring hundreds, if not thousands of clients back to stability and self-sufficiency.” 

Check out this Facebook photo album shot at the awards ceremony.

Safety Tips for Today’s Blizzard

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

As Winter Storm Juno cripples commerce and paralyzes traffic, Catholic Charities urges you to:

  • Stay home
  • Stay in
  • Stay safe
  • And watch out for your neighbors

Catholic Charities echoes the warnings of NY State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio who declared a state of emergency throughout the New York Archdiocese including New York City, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester counties.

They closed commuter rail lines and forbid driving on roads.

Meanwhile, outreach workers are fanning out to bring into shelter anyone exposed to the storm.

  • Help by calling 311 if you spot someone in need
  • Call 911 if you are in immediate danger
  • Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors
  • Help those who need special assistance, including seniors and persons with disabilities

Click for the latest on subways, trains, buses, roads and rail lines.

Click for severe weather updates.

Blizzard May Trap Elderly

Monday, January 26th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

CAUTION:  Snow’s already falling sideways before Winter Storm Juno — scheduled to slam New York City by 1 pm and predicted the worst blizzard in the city’s history — has even started:

Catholic Charities is here to help.

Are you a homebound senior trapped inside by mountains of snow?

Catholic Charities, partnering again with the NYC Snow Removal Initiative, can pair you with volunteers to clear your driveway.

Important Precautions:

  • Commuter Heads up:  Metro North and the Long island Rail Road might shut down before Monday’s evening rush, Governor Cuomo warned in a recent statement.
  • Highways could close
  • Check out NYC Hazards: Winter Weather web pages for tips and information about how to prepare.
  • Get updates from the NYC Severe Weather website.
  • Get emergency alerts by signing up for Notify NYC.

Pope Francis May Visit NYC Soup Kitchens

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

Breaking news.  Pope Francis, during his trip to New York City confirmed this week and scheduled for September 2015, may spend time in soup kitchens, food pantries and centers that help immigrants.

The notoriously unpretentious pope, appointed in 2013, has quickly risen as a crusader for the world’s poor and disadvantaged, reports Metro New York

“When a pope comes to visit in New York, there’s excitement. But with Pope Francis, it will be excitement on steroids,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. “I think this pope has created such excitement because of what he’s done to enable the world to understand the basic goodness of the message of Jesus … the world is taken by his ability to communicate this.” 

Sullivan said soup kitchens, as well as centers that help immigrants and refugees acclimate to life in New York would be the best place for the pope to visit to “get a good understanding of some of the hurting.”  

“Some of the most vulnerable people do have to go to food pantries for a basic nutritious meal, and it’s one of the better places to see how the church is reaching out to the poorest,” Sullivan said. 

Read Metro New York’s full interview with Msgr. Sullivan to learn more about Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to NYC.

Rebuilding Lives After Husband and Provider’s Death

Tuesday, January 13th, 2015

ocasio6smLeukemia took Jean Carlos Ocasio in November, but the apartment he shared with his wife, Yaresly Cosme-Alicea, and their daughters, ages 4 and 7, still vibrates with his presence. It is in the walls he painted in warm earth tones, the steel kitchen shelves he custom made, the dividing wall he built in the apartment’s one bedroom, which is only half-finished, beams and Spackle still visible.

Mr. Ocasio, a 28-year-old who worked in construction, could be found building, tools in hand, until the very last months of his life. He remodeled his family’s apartment, using recycled cabinets and castoff supplies from work sites…

With Mr. Ocasio unable to work, and his $1,600 in monthly disability benefits unable to cover the rent, food and utilities, Ms. Cosme-Alicea realized she needed help in becoming the primary breadwinner.

In 2014 she enrolled in professional development classes at the Grace Institute, a Catholic Charities affiliated nonprofit organization for economically disadvantaged women.

On Oct. 27, the day of Ms. Cosme-Alicea’s graduation from the Grace Institute, he suffered a stroke. A week later, he died.

Read the full story now.

Polar Vortex Strikes; Cold Children Get Coats

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015
Catholic Charities coat distribution

Catholic Charities coat distribution

By Alice Kenny

Brrr — It’s cold out!

Fortunately, just as the Polar Vortex slams through New York, Catholic Charities is distributing 3,000 coats to children and families in need who would otherwise be shivering without them.

We’re able to keep them warm thanks to our corporate, media and agency partnerships.

ABC Good Morning America Warm Coats and Warm Hearts Drive with Burlington Coat Factory in partnership with K-I-D-S and Fashion Delivers donated the coats. And Catholic Charities, in turn, is sharing them with 50 of our affiliated agencies across our New York archdiocese.

By working together we’re spreading the warmth from Staten Island, throughout New York City, on both sides of the freezing Hudson River and all the way to up to Sullivan County.

Our coat distribution is, as they say, just the tip of the iceberg. We’re also working with our affiliated agencies to distribute hundreds of donated books along with bookshelves to homeless shelters, 38,000 toys to disabled and needy children and so much more.

So now, during this winter season, stay in and stay safe.

And thank you for your help sharing the warmth.