Archive for the ‘Supporting the Physically and Emotionally Challenged’ Category

Opening Her Home to Disabled Children: A True Thanksgiving

Monday, November 24th, 2014

rodriguezLucky for the 40 abandoned New York City children that Josefina Rodriguez took in during recent decades and raised as foster children, this now 61-year-old woman loves children.  This is also lucky for Ms. Rodriguez’ oldest daughter, Hanny Casado, 40, who was born brain damaged and still lives at home.  It is lucky for Mia Rodriguez, 8, who Ms. Rodriguez took in as a foster child and later adopted.  And it is lucky for Natasha Rodriguez, 12, who Ms. Rodriguez also took in as a foster child and adopted regardless of the autism and mental retardation that make Natasha a more challenging child to raise.

Thanks to a wide array of support provided by Kennedy Child Study Center, an affiliate of Catholic Charities that assists children with developmental delays, this financially and emotionally stressed family continues to thrive.

“These are not real problems,” Ms. Rodriguez says when questioned about pressures she navigates every day.  “Problems are grave illnesses, when someone you love dies.  I have commitments, not problems, commitments to take care of my children.”

Read their story in The New York Times.

Young and Rubicam Teams Up with Developmentally Disabled

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

With breakaways, drop kicks and punts, eight volunteers from the international marketing and communications company, Young and Rubicam, teamed up with 20 developmentally disabled adults at Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Memorial Center gym earlier this month for a day filled with soccer drills and games.

Organized by Catholic Charities Director of Volunteer Services Staci-Jo Bruce, the event enabled volunteers to provide a meaningful day for the developmentally delayed adults, all passionate soccer players, served by Catholic Guardian Services, an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

Attacked & Blinded, Former Cab Driver Struggles to Care for His Family

Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

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After fleeing ethnic persecution in Guinea, K. Arafan Koita was brutally attacked three years later while working as a livery driver in New York City.

Mr. Koita lost his vision in the attack, New York Times Reporter Corey Kilgannon reports in this just-published Neediest Case, but partly regained it after being hospitalized.

These days, Mr. Koita finds sporadic work delivering African art with a friend from Guinea, and hopes to get off public assistance so he can support and be a role model for his children, he said.

Left legally blind, he is haunted by a feeling of powerlessness when it comes to supporting his wife and three children.

Mr. Koita, who speaks French, also sought out the Catholic Charities Guild for the Blind, to improve his English, and for help resolving complications in getting social service benefits. He registered for computer training and for help finding a job.

The children share a tiny bedroom crowded with sagging beds that make sleeping uncomfortable, and the apartment has been without heat and hot water for two months. The landlord has been slow to respond, Mr. Koita said as he stood over a hot plate in the kitchen, where the family often heats large pots of water for bathing.

“I need to be strong,” he said. “For them.”

Read Mr. Koita’s full profile in The New York Times.

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

   

Biking with the Camels. Seriously.

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Dr. Dean Scher

Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County, NY joined forces this month with the Orange County Bicycle Club for the Ride With the Camels, a 10-to-61-mile ride through forested ridges and rolling farmland that celebrates open space in Orange County, NY.

The event was named after a large pasture that bikers pedal past filled with a herd of grazing camels whose humps remind them of the steep hills they tackle.  The camels were rescued after movie, advertising, and circus careers by the Sanctuary for Animals and live on the farm with hundreds of other rescued animals of different species.

The annual fundraiser netted more than $14,000 this year to benefit Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Sanctuary for Animals.

‘The annual Country Roads Bike Tour is a great collaborative event,’ Dr. Dean Scher, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County, said in a recent story about the event published in The Times Herald Record  ‘We are thankful for the support from the members of the Bike Club, the hundreds of riders who turn out each year, the volunteers who spend the day with us, and the sponsors who make generous in-kind and financial donations. It is thanks to this extraordinary coordinated effort that these three agencies will have a little extra cash in their coffers this year.’

Read more in The Times Herald Record

New Ladies of Charity

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of archdiocesan Catholic Charities, installs a new member of the Ladies of Charity of New York during the annual Mass and Affiliation Ceremony in the Lady Chapel of St. Patrick’s Cathedral Oct. 18.

“From the way the newly installed president of the Ladies of Charity explained the mission of the organization, there are thousands of potential Ladies of Charity in the world,” writes Juliann Dos Santos in this recent issue of Catholic New York. “They just may not know it yet.”

But 19 new affiliates now know it well as Catholic Charities Executive Msgr. Kevin Sullivan added their names to the rolls of this laywoman’s Catholic Charities affiliated organization committed to serve the poor at an installation Mass held in the Lady Chapel of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on October 18.

The president, Nancy C. Waters, who was also installed at the Mass and ceremony, was speaking of the type of work with which the Ladies of Charity are involved.

‘Whenever a woman offers tea or speaks to a lonely neighbor, stops to assist a homeless person or even holds a door open for a mother struggling with a stroller, she is acting as a Lady of Charity,’ Ms. Waters explained.

‘Life is filled with Lady of Charity moments,’ she said.

The organization itself was co-founded in 1617 by St. Vincent de Paul and St. Louise de Marillac. It also carries on the spirit of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton. Service is done in a Vincentian way of helping the poor and the marginalized materially and spiritually.

Read the full story in Catholic New York.

Interested in becoming a Lady of Charity? Call (212) 371-1011, ext. 2542.

Fighting Substance Abuse by Running the NYC Marathon with Team Catholic Charities

Friday, October 17th, 2014

By Tony Osborn

As a parent of a child that struggles with substance abuse, I understand the difficulties associated with it.

A substance abuser’s behaviors affect many things such as their home life, their careers and themselves.

The availability of self-help programs, such as the programs that are offered by Catholic Charities, that are designed to assist an individual in taking advantage of the gift of life are very important to myself and my family.  My family has benefited in many ways from these support programs meant to assist in coping with and breaking the cycle of drug addiction.  For this reason I would like to represent Archbishop Timothy Dolan and Catholic Charities in the New York City marathon.

“There is no such thing as an inconsequential life.”

Click here to support Tony.

Agency Retreat Prepares for Catholic Charities Centennial

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

DSC_1704As an early step in preparation for the upcoming centennial celebration of The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York – just three years from now in 2017 — executive directors from our 90 affiliated agencies convened last week at the Met Life building.  They participated in breakout sessions that focused on and collaborating and networking with fellow affiliated agencies.

“As we approach the Centennial of The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, we reinforce and make clear our fundamental understanding of this federation of agencies,” Msgr. Sullivan said, “independent in governance and management, yet united by a common Catholic vision.  A vision which affirms the dignity of each person, of every religion or no religion, made in the image and likeness of God and the priority of our services and resources toward the poor and vulnerable.”

Check out photos from the event

How Astor Changed These Children’s Lives

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
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Joel Salazar holding up his diploma from the East Bronx Academy for the Future.

By Sonia Barnes-Moorehead
Executive Vice President
Astor Services for Children & Families

Like every other parent at high school commencement ceremonies this spring, Eve Murphy watched with pride as her daughter, Cheyenne, clutched her diploma. But Murphy said she was especially proud of her daughter’s accomplishment, because few students had overcome as much as she had.

“I was so elated,” Murphy said. “A few years ago, I did not see this day coming.” She added that she doubted her daughter could have reached the commencement stage at Wildcat Academy without the support of a team of clinicians, behavioral coaches, and caseworkers from Astor Services for Children & Families.

The agency, sponsored by the Catholic Charities Alliance and spanning  from Dutchess County to New York City, offers a residential home for children, child guidance and counseling centers, an early childhood and day treatment programs, home-based crisis intervention and school-based preventative services that enable emotionally disturbed youngsters to live at home and attend neighborhood schools.  An innovative leader in services for children with psychiatric disorders, Astor Services for Children & Families became one of the first mental health facilities for children in the nation to receive accreditation from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.  The U.S. Department of Education designated Astor Learning Center a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence.

As for Cheyenne, she began  battling emotional issues when she was eight years old that were causing her to be disruptive in her public school classroom. She was placed in one of Astor’s Day Treatment programs, which work with children ages 5 – 12 who display a range of behaviors that impact their ability to develop or attain age-appropriate cognitive and educational skills.

Day Treatment gives children the chance to thrive in a traditional school environment while receiving the intensive support they need to overcome behavioral challenges so they can re-enter public school and transition into their appropriate school placement.  In this program, Cheyenne received psychiatric treatment as well as academic schooling, and when she was ready to return to public school, a team of Astor caseworkers and counselors continued to keep tabs on her and provide her with ongoing services.

Thanks to support from Robin Hood, Astor’s Transitions team (a group of caseworkers who work with kids like Cheyenne to help with the transition process, and who stay with them throughout their schooling), is currently tracking 153 of its former Day Treatment students as they make their way through school. This year, Cheyenne Murphy and five other young adults were the first clients since the program’s inception to earn high school diplomas.

Jurine Walker, Astor’s Deputy Director for Bronx Day Treatment and Transitions programs, said she was “overjoyed” when she heard Cheyenne would be graduating. “I’ve known Cheyenne and some of these other young adults since they were in the third grade,” Walker said. “It’s astounding to see the progress they’ve made. They have to possess a lot of strength to get to where they are today. We help them set their goals and are there to support them, but they are the ones who have to assume the responsibility to follow through.”

Cheyenne, who hopes to continue her education this fall in Boston, said she was grateful for the support she received from Astor’s Transitions caseworkers. “When I was younger, the people in Astor’s Day Treatment programs helped me get my emotions under control, and later, the staff in the Transitions program helped me set goals and focus on my schoolwork. Graduation day was a great day because I could see how proud my mom was, and that made me proud, too.”

The same week Cheyenne and Eve Murphy were celebrating their milestone at Wildcat Academy, another former Astor client, Joel Salazar, received his diploma from the East Bronx Academy for the Future in a ceremony on the campus of Fordham University. Like Cheyenne Murphy, Joel credited Astor and his Transitions caseworker, Leemarie Sanchez, with helping complete his journey through high school.

“Whenever I got lazy, Leemarie got me back on track and worked with me on my goals,” he said. Joel’s mother, Jacqueline Rosario, thanked Astor for all the support its staff had provided for Joel over the past nine years. “Joel was hyperactive as a kid, but when he came to Astor in the fourth grade, they worked with him and I saw improvement quickly. And on the day he graduated, I thanked God for Astor; thanked God for Transitions. I’d recommend Astor to any parent.”

Would you like to help a child with special needs?

Find out more about Astor Services for Children

Cardinal Dolan Visits Lavelle School for the Blind

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

NOTE: All photos require the written permission of copyright holder Maria R. Bastone for usage. NO MODEL RELEASES; NO SALES; NO TRANSFER OF RIGHTS TO THIRD PARTY. EMBEDDED COPYRIGHT INFOR MAY NOT BE REMOVED. Client will indemnify photographer from any usA Bronx school that helps some of the most vulnerable residents in the city is celebrating 110 years, and that makes it a fitting time for a visit from the Archbishop of New York, reported Erin Clarke on this recent NY1 television broadcast.

The Lavelle School for the Blind had humble beginnings when it opened more than a century ago.

“It was run by the Blauvelt Dominican congregation and their dedication to the students, their commitment to helping people with severe disabilities,” said Claire Lavin, president of the board of trustees at the Lavelle School for the Blind. “They started with one blind person in someone’s apartment, and from that, it grew into a whole school.”

On Thursday, (September 11, 2014) Cardinal Timothy Dolan stopped by the school in the northeast Bronx.

“In love and compassion, teaching, healing, they do it splendidly,” Dolan said.

Though Lavelle isn’t a Catholic school, it was started by nuns and it falls under the umbrella of Catholic charities and Archdiocese institutions. This year, it’s celebrating 110 years of giving not only blind students, but also those with multiple disabilities the skills to stand on their own and be successful.

“I not only had an academic education, but I had a lot of other skills and things to back me up to be able to go out and then be the only blind child in athat was in my neighborhood,” said Carmen Rico, an alumnus of the school.

Rico said the school gave her the confidence to go on to the College of New Rochelle and Columbia. Then, she became a teacher for blind students.

“The kids are learning basic skills that translate to real work in the future,” said Gary Weir, transition coordinator for the Lavelle School for the Blind.

“I’m working with clothes and in pocketbooks,” said student Rosa Santos. “It makes me feel good. I get paid.”

This holistic approach to education piqued the interest of Dolan on his visit.

“There was sort of a sense of pride and joy and ownership in the students,” Dolan said. “They weren’t numbers. They weren’t clients. You could tell they were part of the family. There’s a sense of love and warmth and self-help and helping one another. That moved me very much.”

Just like in 1904, when the Blauvelt Dominican sisters started Lavelle, today, it’s caring for and helping its students achieve fulfilling lives.

Catch the broadcast on NY1.

Learn more about the Lavelle School for the Blind, an affiliate of Catholic Charities NY.

Potential Pope Visit ‘a Blessing’ for New Yorkers

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

By Mike Vlensky

Wall Street Journal

“Catholic New Yorkers expressed high hopes after Pope Francis said Monday he might visit New York City, which would mark the first papal visit since 2008,” reports Mike Vilensky on August 20, 2014 in the Wall Street Journal.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, the executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, an umbrella organization that encompasses 90 agencies serving people throughout the New York Archdiocese, said the new pope’s messages on peace and inequality have spurred a renewed enthusiasm and commitment among donors and charity workers alike.

‘There are no plans yet,’ said Msgr. Sullivan of the possible New York trip, but the tradition has been that if a pope comes to address the United Nations, he usually also makes side trips into the community.

Among the projects on Msgr. Sullivan’s wish list: taking the pope to see children who have fled desperate situations in Central America, visits to homeless shelters and to meet ‘New Yorkers who struggle to have a decent meal at the end of the day.’

Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.