Archive for the ‘Strengthening Families and Resolving Crises’ Category

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.

Day Laborer Holiday Celebration

Thursday, December 11th, 2014

poasadasMembers of Obreros Unidos, day laborers and their families served by Catholic Charities in Yonkers have begun Posadas, a Mexican Christmas season tradition that dramatizes the search of Joseph and Mary for lodging. They were joined this year by six monks from the Franciscan Friars of Renewal, three seminarians and a host of others including the Fátima choir from St. Peter Church.

So many joined along because they wanted to mark this special time for these laboring men and their families who, during the frigid winter and all year round, wait on street corners hoping for work.  During this holiday they talk, sing and pray as they carry a statue of the Virgin of Guadalupe from home to home. Nine families chosen to host the statue place it on uniquely decorated alters.  After that, they share personal prayers, the Holy Spirit and a welcome for their fellow travelers.

During the feast, they share a little about their current hardships, challenges, and hopes for the future. This process continues night after night until December 12, the date the Virgin of Guadalupe is commemorated and put to rest at St. Peters Parish.

“The goal of the Posadas, aside from the commemoration and ability to celebrate a tradition, was to create another environment where workers could unite, share their beliefs, and discuss their challenges,” says Catholic Charities Day Laborer Organizer Janet Hernández.

Volunteers Buy Holiday Gifts for Needy

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

Dozens of volunteers gathered Saturday (December 6, 2014) to shop for holiday gifts for the needy.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York held its annual Westchester Shopping Day at the Kmart in White Plains, reports News 12 Westchester.

Volunteers stocked up on hats, gloves, coats, boots and more to donate to needy families throughout the county.

The volunteers’ shopping lists are based on specific family profiles and bought with donations previously made to Catholic Charities’ St. Nicholas Project.

Watch this News12 exclusive here – and log in with your Optimum ID  or sign up if you are a Time Warner, Comcast or Service Electric customer.

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Join us – live – this Saturday for the Big Bonanza – Shopping Day at Kmart in downtown Manhattan.

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Threatened Gambian Journalist Wants to Rescue His Daughter

Thursday, December 4th, 2014

photo 3By John Otis

The New York Times

Friends are few in number and relatives live an ocean away, but since moving from his native country, Gambia, Buya Jammeh has gained something precious,” writes John Otis in this New York Times Neediest Cases article.

“This is the land of liberty,” Mr. Jammeh, 32, said. “Since I stepped my foot in the United States, I feel like I’m O.K., I’m a free man. I’ve regained the life I lost. I have nothing to fear in the U.S.”

Mr. Jammeh grew up in the north bank region of Gambia. After high school, he began a career in journalism. Gambia has a weak independent press, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists; Mr. Jammeh said he had been threatened many times, and beaten by the military police…

With help from the immigration department of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, Mr. Jammeh was granted asylum in June.

Catholic Charities, one of the agencies supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund, is also helping Mr. Jammeh petition to bring his wife and 2-year-old daughter to the United States. He wants them to arrive before his child gets much older.

“In Africa, they still practice female genital mutilation,” Mr. Jammeh said. “I have a daughter. If she’s 4 or 5, she’s going through the same process, and I don’t want her to be subjected to that kind of process. It’s tradition. They don’t need to take permission from you as the father.”

Read the full New York Times story now.

Help us help the Jammeh family and fellow courageous New Yorkers.

Pope Francis Calls Us to Sow Hope

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

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We have Thanksgiving, a day for giving thanks.  We have Black Friday and Cyber Monday, days for getting deals.

And today, we have #Giving Tuesday, a global day for giving back.

“Poverty calls us to sow hope,” Pope Francis tells us. “Poverty is the flesh of the poor Jesus, in that child who is hungry, in the one who is sick.”

Celebrate #Giving Tuesday with Catholic Charities.

Help us sow hope.

Focusing on Education for Family’s Success

Monday, December 1st, 2014

photo 5By John Otis

“It is seldom easy to achieve one’s dreams, but Naomi Bradshaw, 43, wishes it had not been quite so difficult,” writes New York Times Reporter John Otis in this recently published profile in The New York Times Neediest Cases series.

She married and the couple had sons. But marital bliss was short-lived.

“’Things got crazy,’ Ms. Bradshaw said. “He told me that I couldn’t go to work or to school.” She recalled numerous instances of abuse and…said her husband repeatedly threatened to harm her with a cricket bat and large kitchen knives…

“In 2005, she left her husband and took her sons to a shelter…

“As a single parent, Ms. Bradshaw pressed on. She took a job at a printing factory and was adamant that her children focus on their academic success

“’My main thing was for them to stay on top in school,’ she said. All three of her sons are A students and on the high honor roll at their schools. Shaun, (her oldest), is a contender for class valedictorian at the Law, Government and Community Service High School in Jamaica, Queens. He is set to graduate in 2016, and is already enrolled in classes at Queens College, with ambitions to pursue a career in law.

There was time now for Ms. Bradshaw to focus on her own career.  So she turned to Grace Institute, a Catholic Charities affiliate that provides free business training for women in need.

“I wanted a start, a real start,” Ms. Bradshaw said.

“I’m going to keep pushing like I always do,” Ms. Bradshaw said (after graduating the program in October.) “I’m not afraid.”

Daring to Hope

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

President Obama’s recent executive action on immigration reform leaves many searching for answers to this complicated and controversial topic.

 Put your questions in context:  Read this third in a series of El Diario editorials.

Will the President Act on Immigration? Daring to Hope; Preparing for Change.

By C. Mario Russell

For El Diario

Time is running out for Mr. Obama.  He must deliver soon on his promise to change the lives of immigrants in America. The President’s promise restored hope, for which immigrants gave him support and their votes. But it also was made at great cost, in exchange for hundreds of thousands of deportations.

We find ourselves halfway into the President’s second term, and we ask again: will Mr. Obama act on immigration? Many in the nation are more frustrated than ever before, their chorus calls for bold legalization having become pleas for modest and temporary documentation.  Millions of immigrants, whether resident or undocumented, whether living in the open or under cover day-by-day, whether waiting to reunify with family or avoid deportation, are yearning for something new.

No comprehensive legalization law has been enacted for almost 30 years. Washington lawmakers have allowed a generation of workers to continue to work, a generation of children to grow into adults, and a generation of families and faithful to set roots in their communities. Yet, those same lawmakers in Washington have shown social neglect and moral indifference, and, as a direct result, have stalled the lives of millions from full participation in America.

For some time now we have heard Mr. Obama signal his intent to use his presidential power to do “something about immigration”–perhaps before the end of 2014 or soon after 2015 begins.  We have heard this before, and we know better than to rely on words only; the ground in politics has the quality of quicksand, changing and dangerous.  But there is time, and the window of opportunity is open. We must dare to hope.

And if we hope, we must also prepare.

So, permit me to offer practical tips for how to prepare now for any rules that might come from the White House in the future. These are steps that make for good citizenship and for good stewardship. They will be the essential components of any an immigration benefit, whatever form it takes:

First, begin to collect documents:

  • All personal and family identity documents
  • Evidence of arrival to the US and evidence of residency (utility bills, leases, medical records, etc.)
  • Evidence of any trips outside the US
  • Evidence of work (especially undocumented workers)
  • Evidence of education in the US
  • Copies of any immigration applications made to INS/USCIS
  • If ever arrested, criminal Certificates of Disposition (originals from the court), because certain convictions may be disqualifying

Second, consider English classes. It is probable that English proficiency of some kind will be required.

Third, begin setting money aside for filing and (possibly) penalty fees and other legal fees.

Fourth, review tax payments for years worked, to make sure taxes were submitted (even if late) and were accurate and complete.

And, finally, no one should give money to notaries, agencies, or lawyers to prepare an application or help them gather documents at this time. If and when there is a new rule there will be reliable agencies to help people at low cost or for free. There is no need to pay thousands of dollars now. 
To check on the status of any immigration law or rule, call the New York State Hotline at 1-800-566-7636.

Mario Russell is Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane, NY, NY 10038; he also teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.

Read the full El Diario editorial in Spanish here.