Archive for the ‘Strengthening Families and Resolving Crises’ Category

Harlem Girl Says She Doesn’t Like Police

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

FullSizeRenderBy Alice Kenny

The words of a four-year-old Harlem girl, “I don’t like the police,” sparked a gathering of over 100 children and 40 police officers at Catholic Charities Joseph P. Kennedy Center on February 21.

The little girl, spooked by what she heard about police shootings of unarmed black men, made her comment to Jackie Rowe, founder of Harlem Mother SAVE, an organization founded by mothers who lost their sons to gun violence.

“Jackie realized at that point how our babies are affected by what they see and hear from the news, adults and teens,” says Deacon Rodney Beckford who runs center that held the event.  “Indeed, there is the effect police officers have on the community as they carry out their duty while babies watch.”

So Ms. Rowe and community affairs police officers decided to host a small event with a few children to dispel the notion that police are bad.

Instead, the event, held on a stormy winter day, was packed with Harlem children, police chiefs, captains, sergeants and patrolmen.  For four hours mounted police took selfies with children, jumped double dutch, flopped in a two-story bounce ride brought in by the police and painted faces with a clown.

New York City’s highest ranked uniform officer, NYPD Department Chief James O’Neill, fielded questions from children ages 3 – 15 as fellow police gave out NYPD basketballs and ate pizza with the children.

“To bring families and communities together is what Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Center exists to do in the Harlem community,” says Deacon Beckford.  “That’s what we at Catholic Charities are called to do day in and day out.”

Catholic Charities Faces Off Against Judicial Order Live On ABC7

Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

CMarioRussellTiempoBy Alice Kenny

Join Mario Russell from Catholic Charities and Senator Adriano Espaillat on ABC7 as they take on the controversial judicial order that just blocked immigration reform.

“I think (the judge) is hiding the ball,” Mr. Russell, Catholic Charities Director of Immigration and Refugee Services tells ABC7 host Joe Torres on the Sunday talk show. “The President isn’t doing anything new that hasn’t been done before.  Deferred action is given all the time.  Employment is just a side benefit.”

So what should the 338,000 potentially eligible people in New York do in the mean time?

“This is a momentary block… that the courts will work out over time,” Mr. Russell says.

“What’s key and this is what we do at Catholic Charities is we work to keep people informed. We give presentations.  We go to community meetings. We’ve met with over a thousand people…sending the same messages-

“Don’t be afraid.  Stay informed.  Continue working on developing the evidence of your case, whether its evidence of residency, of your identity, anything else.”

Watch and learn as Mr. Russell and Senator Espaillat take this controversy head on.

 

 

Free Immigration Conference — Run By New York Experts

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Don’t get lost in litigation over President Obama’s Executive Action on immigration reform.

Sign up now for a free conference run by immigration experts.

Learn about the President’s proposed action that:

  •  Provides for unauthorized parents of U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents (DAPA)
  •  Expands  the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program
  •  Includes other important initiatives

Take part in key-note presentations led by:

  • Faith leaders
  • Federal, state, and local officials, legal service agencies
  • Community-based agencies
  • National immigrant rights groups.

Participate in discussions that:

  • Examine federal, New York State and New York City policy, outreach, and Executive Action initiatives.
  • Explore legal services mobilization efforts by public and private entities and other collaborative programs in New York City, Long Island, and the Lower Hudson Valley, focused on outreach, public education on benefit eligibility and the risk of fraud, and provision of legal screening, representation and advocacy.
  • Address the role of non-legal, community-based institutions, particularly Catholic parishes, in ensuring the program’s success.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Catholic Migration Services of the Diocese of Brooklyn, and the Center for Migration Studies of New York (CMS) will host this all-day event.

When:  March 25. 2014

Where:  The Sheen Center (in lower Manhattan).

Learn more.

Click to register now.

 Or email your name, title, organization and email address to cms@cmsny.org.

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. Dominguez 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.