Archive for the ‘Strengthening Families and Resolving Crises’ Category

“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.

Mother Gives Autistic Son Special Party

Monday, January 5th, 2015

andrewsEvery available surface of what, an hour earlier, had been an empty housing project community room had been decorated in the colors and likeness of Jamel Hunter’s favorite superhero, Spider-Man. There were Spider-Man balloons, cupcakes, a spider made of frosting on the birthday cake, even a homemade pin-the-tail-on-Spider-Man game.

The night was part party and part prayer, for it was a first for Jamel, 8, and his mother, Phyllis Atwood, 46, wanted it to be perfect.

Jamel has autism, and slight variations from his routines can be jarring, sending him into screaming fits or silent retreats to his own thoughts. The party was a huge leap. The volume of the music, the rows and rows of trays of barbecue and soft drinks and desserts, the brightly colored balloons — it was as if Ms. Atwood were making up for lost time, throwing him three or four parties at the same time.

Ms. Atwood, a single mother, is disabled from Blount’s disease, a condition in which the upper shin bone stops producing bone tissue; and failing kidneys that require she undergo dialysis three times a week. She had loaded her wheelchair with party supplies before making her way from their apartment to the party.

The family receives support and services from Kennedy Child Study Center, a Catholic Charities sponsored agency acknowledged as a leader in educating and supporting children with intellectual disabilities.

Read their full story published Christmas Day in The New York Times.

Time to Give Hope

Monday, December 29th, 2014

timetogivehopeIt’s time to give hope for the New Year.

Your tax-deductible donation by Dec. 31st will help us keep families together.

 

Today’s economy squeezes working-class families, leaving many holding two jobs yet still unable to pay rent, put food on the table and makes ends meet. With donations like yours, we can strengthen these families.

Last year, we helped nearly 100,000 individuals and families with financial assistance, resources, counseling, job placement and more so they could stay together and thrive.

Please consider an end-of-year donation of $100. Together we can provide help and create hope.

Help New Yorkers In Need Stay Warm This Christmas

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

warmcoatpostA warm coat isn’t too much to ask for this Christmas.

When hard-working people fall on hard times, Catholic Charities is there.

The Rivera family lost almost everything when the economic climate caused their day care business to shut down. As winter approaches, families like the Riveras are facing a tough climate of another kind. Last year, our St. Nicholas Project provided warm coats, hats, sweaters and blankets to nearly 4,000 people. Every year, because of caring people like you, the St. Nicholas Project is able to provide winter necessities to those in need.

This Christmas, you can help by donating $65 to help one individual, or $260 to help a family of four.

Catholic Charities’ Mario Russell Speaks About Immigration on NPR Radio

Friday, December 12th, 2014

“Crossing the U.S. Mexican border is a harrowing journey for many Central Americans,” reports Alexandra Starr on National Public Radio (NPR).

“More than 57,000 child migrants made that trip this year and many reported being physically and sexually abused.”

The State Department launched a program this month that creates a safe passage to the United States from Central America. It would give some U.S.-based Latino parents the chance to bring over children they left in their home countries…

Parents who want their children to interview to come to the U.S. will have to submit the requests through organizations like Catholic Charities.

Mario Russell, with Catholic Charities in New York, says he thinks this new program acknowledges how bad things are in some Central American countries.

“The old models, I think, by which families were divided, that is to say that some children stayed in the home country were raised by a grandparent, just don’t work anymore because the conditions have become really unsustainable, and that’s why I think they’re leaving in large measure,” Russell says.

Listen to the full program on NPR.