Archive for the ‘Strengthening Families and Resolving Crises’ Category

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.

Hurricane Season is Starting

Thursday, May 29th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

We finally got through winter but more terrible weather may be just ahead.

June 1st is the start of hurricane season.

Now is the time to get ready before a storm threatens our community.

As we know firsthand from Hurricane Sandy, being prepared to act quickly can be essential for survival. Even though severe weather was predicted before the hurricane hit, many said they did not have a plan and were caught unprepared.  After all, when was the last time a hurricane hit New York hard?

But now, post Sandy, we’ve learned that hurricanes happen here.

So do you know what to do if a hurricane watch is ordered?

Do you know how to evacuate if local officials call for an evacuation?

Don’t wait until a storm threatens to find out.  Get your family disaster plan together.  Find out if you’re in an evacuation zone and have an escape route planned.

Hurricane season can be unpredictable but you can take control by getting your plan ready today.

Check out these video tips from USWeather.gov and start preparing your family’s disaster plan now.

Are you still struggling to recover from Hurricane Sandy?

Catholic Charities operates the New York State Disaster Case Management program.

  • 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 still living away from or in your damaged home?
  • Do you need someone to talk to?

Call us today at 855-258-0483

Help is here.

As Businesses Flee, Nuns March in to Restore Burned-Out City

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Photographed by Daniel Case

By Alice Kenny

One, sometimes two brick buildings stand lonely sentry amid rubble and rats in block after Newburgh city block.  Once home to the first Edison plant and the first city to be electrified, this Hudson River community an hour north of Manhattan is now distinguished by gangs and drug-infested violence.

Factories shuttered decades ago.  Rioters frustrated by poverty shattered store windows and burned down buildings. Those who could fled with what they had left.

But in 1983 a group of nuns–Sisters Monica McGloin and Margaret Kilpatrick of the Dominican Sisters of Hope, Monica Galligan and Suzanne LaChapele of the Little Sisters of the Assumption and Irene Freely of the Franciscan Sisters of Peace – put on work clothes, pitched their tent with the poor and founded Newburgh Ministries, an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

Theirs is far from a happily-ever-after story.

“The unemployment rate among this largely Hispanic and black young male population sticks stubbornly at nearly 50 percent,” says the Ministry’s Executive Director Colin Jarvis. “The only jobs seem those born of poverty –police, welfare workers and teachers– almost all of whom commute in from somewhere, anywhere other than Newburgh.”

But the sisters and staff are not giving up. They listen to their new neighbors, march with them down dusty streets lined with buildings ready to be condemned and join in restoring their community.

Newburgh Ministries, housed first in a storefront and later in a former sewing machine factory, began small.  There the homeless, the confused and those with nowhere else to go are still welcomed as guests.  They drop by to sip warm coffee, make free phone calls searching for work and receive comfort.  They shop at a thrift store where shirts, slacks and dresses are “sold” for dimes and dollars, prices they can afford to pay with dignity.  And they let their children build castles from blocks in a playroom safe from bullets outside.

The ministry added “Winterhaven,” a shelter so visitors no longer had to huddle over night in abandoned buildings.  And they teamed with St. Mary’s College and doctors from Christ Health Care to offer a free health clinic where no insurance is needed.

“The goal, however, is not to soften the blows of poverty,” says Mr. Jarvis as folks stop by his office to say hi, “but rather to empower people to transform a community.”

So Newburgh Ministries added Project Jumpstart, a language and tutoring program that keeps youngsters from falling through education’s cracks.

And perhaps, most important, they are building micro businesses.

More than a dozen women, all minority and most unable to speak English, sit at a kitchen table on the Ministry’s second floor, weaving glass beads into earrings, necklaces and bracelets.  Their wares are documented, sold at craft fairs and turned into income for these newly minted jewelers.

Now, with help from a volunteer chef, Newburgh Ministry is kicking off “Baked Goods from the Hood” where local men and women will learn to bake, market and run an industry.

“We’re not looking for the government to solve people’s problems,” Mr. Jarvis says.  “People solve people’s problems.”

New Mom Tweets Big News

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

PCC ImagesmallBy Alice Kenny

In just 140 characters, Maria used the hashtag “Mom” to announce this week the huge news that she celebrated her parenting class graduation from Catholic Charities affiliate, Good Counsel Homes,  just in time for the arrival of her baby.

#mom Maria celebrated her @CathCharitiesNY #parenting class graduation just in time for the arrival of her #baby! pic.twitter.com/gfjRwPJkEK

Good Counsel is more than a shelter for homeless, pregnant women.  It is a supportive and loving home where the needs of the women served are met immediately and for the long term.  Programs each mom has access to are provided with the ultimate goal of leaving Good Counsel, affording each mom with the life skills training she needs to never be homeless again.  Programs include budgeting and vocational assistance, nutrition, guidance and, most important for Maria, parenting classes.

Congratulations, Maria, for graduating from Good Counsel’s Parenting Class.

All our best for you and your new baby!

While this is a happy ending, most come to Good Counsel with very tough starts.

Check out live testimonies from women helped by Good Counsel in this new video.

Every day women are abused, neglected, and lacking in maternity care and support. But there is hope: Good Counsel’s door is always open for any pregnant woman in crisis. Since 1985 it has been a home to more than 6,000 mothers and children.

Learn more about Good Counsel Homes.

Catholic Charities Joins Forces with Fellow Faith Leaders to Fight Poverty

Friday, May 16th, 2014
portraitCrains

Joshua Scott – FPWA Images

“For the first time, three religious charity umbrella groups in New York are joining forces to study government policies and programs designed to help people living in poverty in the hopes of finding better solutions to the problem and helping really change lives,” reports Theresa Agovino in Crain’s New York yesterday May 15, 2014.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, and the UJA Federation of New York have worked on jointly providing services over the years, but their latest endeavor is taking a new turn. Two months ago, the trio tapped the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based social and economic and policy research group, to review various government poverty programs, with an emphasis on city programs, to learn more about what is effective. They paid $125,000 for the study and hope to have results in two months. The executive said that it was still too soon to say how they would use the results of the study because they aren’t sure what it will uncover.

Together the groups have a network of more than 400 nonprofits that offer a wide range of services including providing food, housing and job training to a total of nearly six million people. Many of those nonprofits receive city funding and work with government agencies on various programs.

‘We may have different theologies, but we each share the tradition of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and housing the homeless,’ said John Ruskay, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the UJA.

Despite all of the good works these groups and others provide, poverty in the city remains stubbornly high. The poverty rate in New York City was essentially unchanged at 21% from 2010 to 2012, but that’s up from 19% in 2008, according to the New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity, which works to fight poverty.

‘We want to see how we can change the outcomes,’ said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. ‘Maybe certain programs need to be scaled up or offered together. How can we do better?’

Jennifer Jones Austin, chief executive officer and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, said she heard about a similar study being conducted in Wisconsin and thought it would be a good idea to create one for the city to help inform public policy. She opted to reach out to her counterparts to amplify her voice.

‘We are all distinguished and respected in our own rights,’ said Ms. Jones Austin, who served as co-chair of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team along with Carl Weisbrod. ‘I believe that with the three of us people will be really listening at city hall.’

It is unacceptable in our wealthy city and nation that one out of five New Yorkers now lives below the poverty line, scrambling to feed and house their hungry children.

“Poverty and its effects afflicts too many of our neighbors in New York,” Msgr. Sullivan said as he discussed this interfaith initiative.

“I look forward to reporting back to you on the Urban Institute’s findings. This study will hopefully serve to enhance our work and our impact on those most in need.”

Follow us here on Facebook and Twitter to stay abreast of the latest findings.

Read the full story here in Crain’s New York.