Archive for the ‘Strengthening Families and Resolving Crises’ Category

Disabled Teens Take Their Turn Changing Lives

Friday, March 14th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

In a classroom decorated with primary-colored posters detailing how to tell time, multiply and “Follow Your Conscience,” teens with various disabilities from St. Dominic’s School packed boxes with donated food to support Catholic Charities “Feeding Our Neighbors” campaign.

“A lot of these children feel disconnected,” said St. Dominic’s Principal Paul Siragusa. “Helping feed the hungry makes them feel they have an impact on society that they never before could have dreamed of.”

And the 80 students, ages 5- 21, had a major impact. Together they took on the entire food drive, from making posters to studying foods’ nutritional values to soliciting donations to preparing food for distribution. All told, the students collected 500 pounds of food, enough to provide the hungry with 625 meals.

Some of the financially less fortunate children contributed as well, which, Mr. Siragusa said, “was worth more than an adults bringing in an entire bag.”

Located in Rockland County’s rolling hills, St. Dominic’s School provides targeted learning for children with special needs. Its intimate size, including two instructors for every eight students, is balanced by its large reputation. St. Dominic’s draws children from New York City, Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties whose needs are too great to be met by their local schools.

The school is part of Saint Dominic’s Home. This nonprofit Catholic social welfare agency affiliated with Catholic Charities is dedicated to meeting the educational, physical, social, emotional, medical, vocational and spiritual needs of 2,300 individuals who are developmentally disabled, socially disadvantaged and/or vocationally challenged.

Founded in 1878, Saint Dominic’s Home began as a safe haven for immigrant children who had been abandoned on the streets of New York City. Today, St. Dominc’s Home provides person-centered care for individuals with developmental disabilities in the Bronx, Orange and Rockland counties so they can live their lives with hope and dignity in a family-like setting. It prepares and supports foster parents so they can give children, who often have been neglected, abused, or abandoned, a brighter future and a loving home and family. It delivers a continuum of care to adults with mental illness and provides them the greatest level of independence. It grows the minds of disadvantaged preschoolers so they are motivated to excel. It gives children and youth with developmental disabilities and serious emotional disturbance living at home the opportunity to live in a more stable family environment.

And, through St. Dominic’s School, it enables children facing emotional and educational challenges to reach their potential.

The food drive, Mr. Siragusa said, has served as a springboard for a variety of activities. Students now participate in “Letters to the Heroes” where they write letters to soldiers thanking them for their service. They also take part in “Operation Goody Bag,” sending candy and homemade Valentine’s Day cards to first responders.

Despite their personal challenges, the students have learned, Mr. Siragusa said, that “there is always something they can do to help someone else.”

Learn more about St. Dominic’s School and Home.

Park Ave. Buildings by Train Tracks Explode

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Our thoughts and prayers are with all hurt when two five-story buildings in Harlem adjacent to the elevated Metro North train tracks collapsed shortly after 9 a.m.this morning. According to latest reports, an explosion in the buildings on the corner of 116 St. and Park Ave. occurred shortly after Con Edison received a call reporting the smell of gas, killing at least two persons and injuring nearly 30 others.

The explosion in 1644 and 1646 Park Ave., just nine blocks south of the Metro North’s 125th St. station, was so great that windows in buildings across the street shattered. Buildings blocks away rattled as if an earthquake had taken place.

200  fire fighters rushed to the site.

Metro North railroad service has been suspended.

Do you need help? Visit the Red Cross assistance center that just opened at P.S. 57 on 115th Street between Lexington and Third avenues or call 311.

Click here for live breaking news on ABC.

Super Storm Sandy: Help is Still Available

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Whether you have applied for FEMA or not, there may be free local resources available to you. A trained, compassionate case manager can work with you one-on-one.

  • Are you going it alone and it is not working?
  • Are you still waiting for responses from agencies?
  • Have you been denied and do not know why?
  • Are you having trouble applying for NY Rising?
  • Are you still living away from or in your damaged home?
  • Do you need someone to talk to?

Call today – Help is here
855 – 258-0483
www.sandydcm.org


The New York State Disaster Case Management program is operated by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York under the auspices of the New York State Office of Emergency Management and funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency

“Severe Weather Week” Starts Today

Monday, March 3rd, 2014

National Severe Weather Week poster

By Alice Kenny

Wow. This was a close one.  While more than a foot of snow was predicted to pummel New York today, the reality, thankfully, turned into just a dusting.

But as we learned this winter when more than five feet of snow pounded our homes, streets and sidewalks and temperatures dropped – and dropped again — into the single digits, severe weather can be just around the corner.

That’s why Catholic Charities  is proud to support National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, March 2-8, 2014.

Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a nationwide effort designed to increase awareness of the severe weather that affects everyone and to encourage individuals, families’ businesses and communities to know their risk, take action, and be an example.

As we know firsthand from Hurricane Sandy, being prepared to act quickly can be a matter of survival. Even though severe weather was anticipated in advance, many in the impacted areas said they did not have a plan and were caught unprepared.

Knowing your risk of severe weather, taking action and being an example are just a few steps you can take to be better prepared to save your life and assist in saving the lives of others.

  • Know Your Risk: The first step to becoming weather-ready is to understand the type of hazardous weather that can affect where you live and work, and how the weather could impact you and your family. Check the weather forecast regularly and learn about Wireless Emergency Alerts.
  • Take Action: Before storms strike, develop a family communication plan and pull together an emergency supplies kit.
  • Be an Example: Share your preparedness story with your friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. Letting others know that you’re prepared will prompt them to prepare as well. Social media provides the perfect platform to model preparedness actions for others.

Being weather ready is a collective effort. It takes the whole community to effectively prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate against damages caused by hurricanes, severe thunderstorms and other severe weather.

Learn more at www.weather.gov and www.ready.gov/severe-weather the Spanish-language web site www.ready.gov/es. Follow the National Weather Service @nws and FEMA @readygov on Twitter.

 

Where None Are So Poor They Have Nothing to Give; None So Rich They Have Nothing to Receive

Friday, February 28th, 2014

L-R: Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Peter C. Georgiopoulos, Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan, John A. Thain, Pat Battle and Catherine Kinney


Check out the inspiring vision Msgr. Kevin Sullivan shared with a packed crowd on Wednesday, February 26, at Catholic Charities annual gala at The Waldorf-Astoria on Wednesday.

During the past year, stock markets have hit a new high.  New York City has a new Mayor. Tragically, new violence and ongoing civil unrest afflict countries with familiar and unfamiliar names, Pope Francis, whom everybody is quoting, has been named Time’s Person of the Year, and in case you hadn’t noticed it’s snowed a bit.    

And through all of this – daily Catholic Charities compassionately and effectively provided emergency meals, prevented evictions, counseled families recovering from Super-Storm Sandy, provided day care for working moms, welcomed immigrants by teaching  English and finding jobs and established a new youth wellness program – and much more. 

Your critical support for Catholic Charities helps to deepen and expand these services, meet unmet and new needs and strengthen a network of some 90 agencies that carries out this vital work in the communities and neighborhoods of greater New York.

Also we have a new buzz word: “inequality.”  For Catholic Charities inequality is not a spiritual catchphrase, nor a political slogan and certainly not a mantra-like wedge to be used to divide us from each other.  For Catholic Charities, inequality is the sad reality that our staff and volunteers encounter every day in our neighbors – a reality that urgently challenges us to come together to build a common good in which the basics – decent housing, nutritious meals, a good job and a supportive and loving family – are had by all. 

Our core belief that every person is made in the image of God demands no less from us.  

Catholic Charities works with individuals who, along with being poor and struggling, have remarkable strengths.  We envision a world of greater solidarity which builds on, and draws from, the strengths and resources of us all -  a world in which none are so poor that they have nothing to give and none too rich that they have nothing to receive.

Find out more about the event and its honorees

Check out these just-released gala photos.

Looking for more inspiration? Watch our just-released video, “Stories of Help & Hope” now.

Catholic Charities Gala Honors CIT Group Chair, General Maritime Founder & the Altman Foundation

Wednesday, February 26th, 2014
Peter C. Georgiopoulos & John A. Thain

Peter C. Georgiopoulos & John A. Thain

His Excellency Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan and the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York will honor John A. Thain, Chairman and CEO, CIT Group Inc. and Peter C. Georgiopoulos, Founder and Chairman, General Maritime Corporation at its Gala Benefit at The Waldorf-Astoria on Wednesday, February 26 at 6:30 p.m.

A special recognition will also be given to the Altman Foundation. Altman will receive the Catholic Charities Good Neighbor Award for their long standing commitment to and support of the mission of Catholic Charities.

“Our annual gala continues to be a vibrant display of collaboration with New York’s generous business community to provide help and create hope in the lives of our neighbors who need a helping hand,” said Executive Director, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan. “Our ability to help New Yorkers in need – non Catholics and Catholics alike – and to build a more compassionate and just New York is writ large because of the partnerships Catholic Charities forges with both business and government. This event highlights the critical and effective role Catholic Charities plays in building a better New York.”

The Catholic Charities gala will once again convene a dynamic group of New Yorkers from the worlds of business, philanthropy, culture, fashion, law, media, politics and religion who share a deep concern for the well-being of New Yorkers in need. The event raises more than $2 million annually.

Pat Battle, anchor for NBC4 New York, will serve as Mistress of Ceremonies. Award-winning actress, singer and dancer Sutton Foster, who held leading roles in several Broadway productions including Thoroughly Modern Millie, Shrek: The Musical and Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, will perform live.

Honoree John A. Thainhas enjoyed a distinguished career in the financial services sector and continues to be a leader in the field. Before joining CIT Group Inc. as Chairman and CEO in 2010, he served as Chairman and CEO of Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. and previously served as CEO and a director of NYSE Euronext, Inc. and President and COO of The Goldman Sachs Group, L.P. He is a member of the MIT Corporation Board, the Dean’s Advisory Council of MIT/Sloan School of Management and the U.S. National Advisory Board of INSEAD. He also serves on the Board of Managers of the New York Botanical Garden, is a member of the Board of Directors of the French-American Foundation and is a trustee of New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

“I have long been impressed by the dedication and commitment of Catholic Charities and their efforts to provide food, shelter and comfort to those most in need,” said Mr. Thain. “This evening offers us an opportunity to recognize their work and will help ensure that they have the necessary resources to solve the problems of New Yorkers in need.”

Fellow honoree Peter C. Georgiopoulos has over twenty years of experience in the international shipping industry and is currently chairman of four publicly listed companies. He is Founder and Chairman of General Maritime Corporation, a leading crude and products tanker company. Mr. Georgiopoulos is also the Founder and Chairman of Genco Shipping & Trading Limited and Baltic Trading Limited. Since December 2006, Mr. Georgiopoulos has presided as Chairman of Aegean Marine Petroleum Network Inc., a leading independent supplier of marine fuel. He serves on the Board of the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, the Alfred E. Smith Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House.

“Charity is often described as the greatest virtue. Tonight’s celebration highlights the wisdom of that saying as we come together, regardless of our faiths, to help ensure that the neediest members of our New York family get the help they deserve,” said Mr. Georgiopoulos. “Catholic Charities has made important and lasting changes for a better New York. I’m honored to be recognized, and more importantly, honored to help Catholic Charities carry forward its important, life-changing work.”

Stay tuned for photos of the big event.

 

Catholic Charities Honored with Food Bank Borough of Excellence Award!

Monday, February 17th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

 

The NYC Conference on Hunger and Poverty awarded this distinction to Catholic Charities Site Manager Carmen Reyes on January 22 for adapting Toyota’s proven method to turn Catholic Charities Washington Heights Ecumenical Food Pantry into a model of efficiency.

Ms. Reyes credits her success to need, vision and teamwork.  But the key, she adds, was the contribution made by Walter Martin, a recent grad from Lafayette College with a degree in civil engineering.

 

Walter adapted Toyota’s “Kaizen” thought process– Japanese for “continuous improvement” — to analyze “where I am; where I need to be and how do I get from here to there.”

Less than two years ago, Washington Heights’ food pantry was characterized by lines that circled the block.

Now, thanks to Mr. Martin’s simple computer program, folks pick up food bank tickets in the morning and return at appointed hours.  They are warmly greeted by Ms. Reyes.  They receive their food in minutes.  And they receive case management services to help them live more independently.

Numbers quantifying the program’s success are astounding.  This food pantry that used to serve 50 people per hour now serves between 100 – 130 people.  Clients wait minutes, not hours, receiving food donations between 2 – 2.5 times faster.  And instead of just receiving donations, they now also get prescreened for SNAP (food stamps) and receive a range of support spanning from immigration referrals to help filing for tax returns.

As for the Kaizen model of continued self improvement, Carmen says she is not stopping with this success.

Her next plans?

She hopes to recruit volunteers to deliver groceries to the home bound, the elderly and the disabled.

As Winter Storm “Pax” Pounds New York, Catholic Charities Promotes Peace and Safety from This Weather Nightmare.

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Not again.  If weather forecasts are right we may be in for the worst storm of the winter today – and that’s saying something.  Predictions include up to a foot of snow in parts of the Archdiocese.  Gusty winds combined with ice and snow could tear down electrical wires and trigger power outages.  New York City, meanwhile, is preparing to once again be sandwiched by the new winter special – snow/sleet/freezing rain – with a snow season total of four feet expected by the end of the day.

Who’s the joker who named this storm, anyway?  This deadly winter mix that began barreling through the south on Tuesday has already caused at least five weather-related traffic deaths  according to a recent Reuters report.

So New Yorkers beware. Catholic Charities, working with the Office of Emergency Management, is here to help.

New York City’s Office of Emergency Management offers multiple tips for staying warm and safe, from what to do if you lose heat to what to do if you get stuck on the road and are afraid you are developing frostbite.*

If you need help, please call the phone numbers below right away:

If you or someone else is in danger, fell through cracking ice, suspect carbon monoxide poisoning or see a homeless person cold, alone and on the streets:

  • Call 911

If you lose heat or have frozen pipes:

  • Call 311

If you lose power, call your power provider:

  • Con Edison 24-hour hotline: 1-800-75-CONED (752-6633)
  • National Grid 24-hour hotline: 1-718-643-4050
  • Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) 24-hour hotline: 1-800-490-0025
    Learn more about power disruptions

If You Must Drive a Vehicle

Whenever possible, avoid driving in a winter storm. If you must go out, it is safer to take public transportation. However, if you must drive or get caught in a storm, heed the following tips:

  • Avoid traveling alone, but if you do so, let someone know your destination, route and when you expect to arrive.
  • Dress warmly. Wear loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in layers.
  • Listen to the radio or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions.
  • Use major streets or highways for travel whenever possible; these roadways will be cleared first.
  • Drive slowly. Posted speed limits are for ideal weather conditions. Vehicles take longer to stop on snow and ice than on dry pavement.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicles may make it easier to drive on snow-covered roads, but they do not stop quicker than other vehicles.
  • If you skid, steer in the direction you want the car to go and straighten the wheel when the car moves in the desired direction.
  • Know your vehicle’s braking system. Vehicles with antilock brakes require a different braking technique than vehicles without antilock brakes in icy or snowy conditions.
  • Try to keep your vehicle’s gas tank as full as possible.

IF YOU GET STUCK ON THE ROAD:

  • Stay with your car. Do not try to walk to safety unless help is visible within 100 yards. You could become disoriented in blowing snow.
  • Display a trouble sign if you need help; tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna and raise the hood to alert rescuers.
  • Start the car and use the heater for about 10 minutes every hour. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow to avoid the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Leave the overhead light on when the car is running so you can be seen.
  • Move your arms and legs to keep blood circulating and to stay warm.
  • Keep one window slightly open to let in fresh air. Use a window that is opposite the direction the wind is blowing.

*Click here for more safety tips from NYC Office of Emergency Management.

Do you need help?
Call the Catholic Charities Help Line: 888-744-7900, or email us through our contact form.

Faces of Hunger

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Yet another day of snow, ice and freezing rain. New Yorkers we know now face the choice of keeping warm or feeding their families.

They commute from food bank to soup kitchen as the Senate poises today to vote on still deeper cuts in the SNAP food stamp program.

For budget crunchers, these hungry children and families are just a number.

For us, they are folks we know, care about and serve.

We invite you to meet a few of the faces of hunger introduced by the Hunger Action Network of NYS.*

Kim

Family of two, a disabled grandmother and her granddaughter

We don’t get enough SNAP benefits to cover me and my granddaughter. We are so grateful for the food pantry. It helps us out a lot. Most of the money we have is from SSI, and it just cover bills to survive. There is no room for any extras.

Kim relies upon SNAP benefits, free lunch programs, food pantries, and church assistance in order to provide enough food for her family.

Kim says:
If we didn’t have these programs, we would suffer a lot more than we do. The struggles from day to day would be a lot worse than they are. We try our hardest, because we know others have needs also.

Faces of Hunger – Kim

Faces of Hunger – Kim

Colleen

Disabled, and living alone.

I receive food stamps and do not get enough to get through the month without this program. Food pantries have definitely subsidized my needs. Without these services, I would probably go hungry most months.

Faces of Hunger – Colleen

 

Laureen

I am poor and disabled. My son lives with me, and grandkids are with me on the weekends. SNAP doesn’t stretch.

Faces of Hunger – Laureen

 

Beth

I am a divorced, diabetic woman. My 19 year old grandson lives with me.

I lost my job as an accountant for my town, because of tax cuts. My trailer is old and falling apart. My van is old and in constant need of repairs. I still have student loans which I have to pay, and my grandson has student loans as well. I have over $125.00 in medicine costs per month.

I get a small amount of SNAP, so I really appreciate the help from the food pantry. I hope to get HEAP this year.

Faces of Hunger – Beth

 

Debbie

Debbie’s household consists of herself and her boyfriend. She only gets food stamps and SSI, and her boyfriend was laid off from work. They depend on SNAP and the food pantry in Cuba as their primary food resources. Debbie feels that these services are “really good for helping anyone” in need.

Faces of Hunger – Debbie

Faces of Hunger – Debbie

 

Katherine (Kathy)

There are ten in Katherine’s household, including five adults and five children. Three of the adults are on disability, and are diabetic. One of the children is a special needs child. One adult works full time in a minimum wage job, and another works two part time jobs. The household has many medical and car repair bills. They receive SNAP benefits, which helps them buy food for the children, and participate in local food pantry programming. The also get HEAP benefits, which help them heat their large house which has especially high heating bills in the winter.

She writes:
“Without these services, we wouldn’t be able to keep everyone fed.

Faces of Hunger – Kathy

Faces of Hunger – Kathy

 

Jenn

Jenn’s family consists of two adults and two children. Her daughter has medical issues, and needs a wheat, gluten, and corn free diet. Her food is, therefore, very expensive. Both Jenn and her daughter are disabled, and their income is limited. The only receive $80 a month for food stamps, and that doesn’t go far enough for all of their nutritional needs. They frequently find themselves out of food and Cuba Cultural Center’s food pantry helps them out a great deal. If they didn’t receive SNAP benefits and go to the food pantry, the children would be eating while Jenn and her boyfriend went hungry.

Faces of Hunger – Jenn

John

John is retired and lives alone. He has no central heat, no water, and only minimal electricity. His house needs a great deal of work. He is happy that he has a roof over his head and can be relatively warm.

John shares:

“Everything, and I mean everything, has become so much more expensive. Being on minimal Social Security Retirement, and having severe arthritis makes it difficult and limits my options. The food pantry makes it a bit easier and give that ever important “hope” to live.”

Because of the food pantry, John doesn’t feel so alone anymore.

John does receive SNAP benefits, and looks forward each month to the day when those benefits come in. Food pantries provide John with “additional nutrition and eases the financial strain of purchasing groceries.” He describes his local food pantry as being “very much like a social gathering, a bringing together of community.” John feels this is “very healthy and healing for all involved.”

Faces of Hunger – John

Faces of Hunger – John

 

Tonya & Family

Tonya is a single mom with three young children. She is unable to work and is applying for disability. Life is difficult, and Tonya struggles every month to make sure that her children’s needs are met. They have benefitted greatly from SNAP, financial and food pantry assistance, and subsidized housing. Without these programs, Tonya would be unable to provide for her family.

Faces of Hunger – Tonya & Family

*Hunger Action Network of NYS

Learn more about SNAP cuts the U.S. Senate plans to vote on today.

Help Us Feed Our Neighbors.

Freedom Isn’t Free

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Deacon Rodney Beckford, Director of Catholic Charities at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem, took on the tough issues of broken families, estrangement from the Church and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. when he shared his personal testimony  at St. Gregory the Great Church in Crown Heights.

Deacon Beckford served as guest speaker at the January 20th event that celebrated the birthday of Dr. King.  The deacon spoke about  growing up in the time of Dr. King and becoming estranged from the Church for a time after the civil rights leader was slain.

The full story is published in this recent issue of The Tablet.

“God always sends a prophet to bring light into darkness,” Deacon Beckford said. “In our time, it was Dr. Martin Luther King.”

 Like many biblical prophets, he said, Dr. King heard the Good News in a dream, and he proclaimed that truth throughout his life. 

“That truth is that freedom isn’t free, that you have to pay the price for your liberty. Dr. King taught us that it is possible to make a way. He made hope our shield and faith our weapon of choice against evil, against sin, against the devil.

“What enabled him to march on?” asked Deacon Beckford. “It was the truth – the truth of knowing that the Lord was his shepherd, the truth of knowing that nothing is impossible for He who walks on water.”

Prayer, he told the congregation, was at the root of everything Dr. King did to bring about social change before his life was cut short.

“But don’t think that because Martin is in his glory that the battle is won,” the deacon said. “The devil is still in the ’hood.”

He spoke about the breakdown of family and society as evidenced by thirty-somethings becoming grandparents, siblings with different fathers, children being raised by grandparents, youngsters wearing improper attire and an overall shift toward self-absorption. 

In these “confused times,” he said the way to “get back on track” is to walk the walk of the One who walked on water, starting with the Word.

He challenged the faithful to learn some Scripture by heart and further memorialize Dr. King by spreading the Good News and volunteering in their local community.

“If you want to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, take what he has done and make something of it,” Deacon Beckford said. “Turn the dream into reality.”