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

How Astor Changed These Children’s Lives

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014
joel

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.

August Is National Eye Exam Month

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Guild for Blind 5-10 024smDo you know someone who is visually challenged and needs help?

At Catholic Charities, we have specialized programs for children and adults with visual handicaps that help them live independently and participate fully in all aspects of community life.

Our wide range of services include basic education, vocational training and instruction in using adaptive technology at home and in the work place.

Staff help individuals learn how to safely get from their homes to school, work and other locations.

In addition, Catholic Charities operates the only English as a Second Language instruction program for immigrants and refugees who are blind or visually impaired.

Click here for help.

Catholic Charities Orange County Aces Golf Outing

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

timesheraldrecordgolf
The eighth annual golf outing held by Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County net $27,000, announced the agency’s Executive Director Dr. Dean Scher and the event’s Chairman Tom Larsen, Esq. Funds raised go directly toward supporting Catholic Charities’ programs and services in Orange County.

The outing, held at West Hills Country Club, a part of the Bonura Hospitality Group, in Middletown, brought in 109 golfers. Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York was the event’s lead sponsor.

“The annual Catholic Charities outing is more than just a fun day on the golf course with friends and colleagues. It’s a way to lend a helping hand to the neediest in our community – the more than 24,000 people who access Catholic Charities’ programs each year,” said Larsen. “We are grateful for the support from our sponsors, golfers, raffle donors, committee members, and volunteers who generously donated time, talent, and funds to make our 2014 annual golf outing a success.”

Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County, one of the human service agencies of Catholic Charities of The Archdiocese of New York, is committed to building a compassionate and just society, serving the homeless, the hungry, the emotionally and physically handicapped, immigrants, the marginalized and vulnerable of Orange County. It collaborates with parishes and non-Catholic and Catholic partners and helps people of all religions who are in need.

For more information, visit www.catholiccharitiesoc.org.

Why Amanda Weber Runs For Team Catholic Charities: No Joke…Well, Maybe a Couple

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Amanda runningBy Amanda Weber

I have been a long standing admirer of Catholic Charities, inspired by the work they have done for Catholics and non-Catholics alike in the greatest city of the world. From finding people homes, to providing care and job training, to helping our city recover from Sandy, the significant impact Catholic Charities has had is undeniable. I am thrilled to be a part of it.

This is my first year as an “adult”, and while my family has been involved with Catholic Charities New York for some time, I wanted to make my own contribution to the honorable cause. When the chance to run in the marathon arose, I knew it was the perfect opportunity.

What better way than to leverage my athletic prowess? But seriously to me it is the opportunity to use a sport that I love and has helped me through the stress of exams (always running away from homework), my ice cream addiction, and the post college sports slump to contribute to a cause I truly believe in.

I knew it was going to be a commitment when I decided to run, and it certainly has been. There have been some struggles—phone down, hurting knees — but on any of those days when I struggled my family (Mom, Dad, JB, John, and Aimee) helped me through. They have been extremely supportive and encouraging. And I’ve even nearly gotten over the embarrassment of having an earlier “bedtime” than my parents in preparation for those 4:30am runs #oldperson.

Training has been underway for quite some time, but the initial excitement has not warn off. I am so excited to be a part of such an incredible event for such an amazing cause.

Got to run,

Amanda

Check out Amanda’s Crowdrise page and help her raise funds for Team Catholic Charities.

Can You Tell a Story?

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

03_Guild for the BlindCan you tell an exciting “story” just by using words?

Xavier Society for the Blind provides books and periodicals on audio CDs for those who cannot read Braille or who prefer to listen to materials.

Work on your own schedule, out of your own home, any time in the day or night.

As a volunteer, you read books aloud using their home computers or personal digital recording devices with a headset microphone.

Materials and a style sheet will be sent to you. Programs and equipment (headset and microphone) can be supplied if needed.  Our IT Director will work with you to make sure the programs are properly installed.

Skill Needed:  Strong command of the English language.

Find out more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Disabled Children Find Help

Friday, June 27th, 2014

0019_KennedyChildStC_09.04.08_BuckmanBy Alice Kenny

Today marks the second in our Summer Agency Series.  It spotlights some of the 90 agencies in our Catholic Charities federation that, day in and day out, provide help and create hope for New Yorkers in need.

Today, let’s take a look at the Kennedy Child Study Center.

In 1958 when children with developmental disabilities were often warehoused into institutions, the Archdiocese of New York established the Kennedy Child Study Center to instead provide them with learning opportunities.

One of the first programs in the nation of its kind, the Kennedy Child Study Center was initially funded by a grant from Rose F. and Joseph P. Kennedy in memory of their son, Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr.

Sponsored by the Catholic Charities Alliance with locations in Manhattan and the Bronx, the Kennedy Child Study Center provides educational and therapeutic services for children with developmental disabilities and delays along with counseling and support services for their families.

Help a child with a developmental delay thrive and achieve.

Contact the Kennedy Child Study Center.

Blind Immigrants Tour Metropolitan Museum of Art

Friday, June 13th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

On June 6th one hundred and sixty volunteers from the national consulting firm Deloitte ventured away from their offices and gathered at more than a dozen separate site locations affiliated with Catholic Charities and its social service programs.

The combined effort of so many volunteers at so many different locations in a single day made a visible impact on those we serve. During the following weeks we will offer a glimpse at their adventures and at the large amount that together we can accomplish.

Blind, poor, many fleeing oppression from another nation and most barely able to speak English, 12 adults huddled around the red granite sarcophagus of Usermontu, the First Prophet of Muntu, and gasped.

“Oh, I love this,” said Lordina Osei–Ofori as a Metropolitan Museum of Art museum guide encouraged her to feel inside the 4,000-year-old coffin and search for inscriptions.

Most of the tour participants had never before been inside a museum. Yet here they were in the largest museum in the nation, the 10th largest in the world, thanks to Catholic Charities Guild for the Blind and navigational support from six Deloitte volunteers.

Watch our slideshow as together participants master city streets, subways and art.

 

Catholic Charities’ Martin Colavito Recognized for Outstanding Work Fighting Addiction

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Martin Colavito, director of prevention services for Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County, was recently recognized by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) as an OASAS O-STAR. This recognition goes to exceptional individuals who work or volunteer in the field of addictions, consistently perform at an outstanding level and make a difference in the lives of their fellow New Yorkers.

Colavito, who has been part of the Catholic Charities’ team for eight years, has worked in the substance abuse field for nearly 35 years.  He focuses predominantly on community organization, with an emphasis on substance abuse treatment and prevention – especially in inner-city neighborhoods. For the past five years Martin has concentrated his efforts on the City of Newburgh.

“We are so grateful to OASAS for recognizing the dedication and commitment of our friend and colleague,” said Dr. Dean Scher, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County.

Martin works at Catholic Charities’ Gateway Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Services on the grounds of Newburgh Free Academy. He also serves a key leadership role in the community outreach initiative TEAM Newburgh, a multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach that addresses the issues of drug abuse and gang violence a project for which Catholic Charities serves as the lead funding agency. Using his experience as a community organizer, Colavito and his team have developed a highly effective partnership of more than 70 human service agencies, businesses, school personnel, community members, and elected officials to combat substance abuse.

Martin, along with TEAM Newburgh, has been successful in getting legislation on the table to remove drug paraphernalia from visible exposure in neighborhood stores and bodegas. He has been approached by human service agencies from around the nation that are interested in establishing programs similar to TEAM Newburgh.

“Martin has been a guiding light for the City of Newburgh and its residents,” Dr. Scher added.