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

Heroin’s New Hometown

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Heroin has hit the suburbs. Far too many of us are mourning the loss of children we once knew.

‘”The obituaries have a certain sameness to them,” write J. David Goodman and Michael Wilson in this week’s New York Times, “full of praise and regret for lives cut short, marked by telltale details and omissions. The deaths occurred at home, or at a friend’s house elsewhere on Staten Island. The mourned were often young and white, and although how they died was never mentioned, nearly everyone knew or suspected the cause.

“A 23-year-old man, a cello student in high school and the son of an elevator company vice president died in March. A former high school hockey player who delivered newspapers died in 2013 at 22. Another 23-year-old man who was working construction died at home in July 2012. Family members and autopsy reports revealed that they died from heroin or combinations of drugs including heroin.

“As the problem worsened, (gatherings began being) held at a nearby school, attached to Our Lady Star of the Sea, a Roman Catholic church on Amboy Road. Nearby, in the basement of the church rectory, a Pills Anonymous group meets.”

In Staten Island and suburbs throughout the New York Archdiocese and the nation, the scourge of heroin is tightening its grip. Thirty-six people died in Staten Island from heroin overdoses in 2012, reports The Times, the highest number in at least a decade. The death rate was higher than the city’s other four boroughs had seen in 10 years.

More than a dozen heroin-related overdose deaths occurred in northern Westchester and Putnam counties in the last year as well, reports the Ossining Daily Voice. Tragically, two deaths were reported just six days apart in small, suburban Cortlandt Manor.

Catholic Charities treats and supports those who are struggling to break the cycle of substance abuse. Far too often, substance abusers affect their families, homes, careers, and their health in ways that hurt others, as well as themselves. These programs are designed to touch all stages of the recovery process to assist an individual to become a functioning human being once again and take full advantage of the precious gift of life. Programs range from out-patient clinics and support groups to inpatient recovery programs. Support is also available to family members.

Are you or someone you know struggling with addiction?

To find a Catholic Charities agency that offers preventive services click here.

For more help, call our Catholic Charities Help line at: 888-744-7900.

Read the full story in The New York Times

“Let’s Get Started”: Catholic Charities and Archdiocese Stand Ready to Work With Mayor on Affordable Housing

Monday, May 5th, 2014

photoHis Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan applaud Mayor de Blasio’s just-announced $41 billion, five-borough, 10-year affordable housing plan to serve more than a half- million New Yorkers.

Called the most expansive and ambitious affordable housing agenda of its kind in the nation’s history, this plan to build or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments across all five boroughs was laid out today, May 5, 2014, by Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference at College Ave. in the Bronx. Mayor de Blasio pledged that the housing plan would reach New Yorkers ranging from those with very low incomes at the bottom of the economic ladder all the way to those in the middle class facing ever-rising rents in their neighborhoods.

“New York City’s current crisis of housing affordability threatens the basic human right to decent housing,” Cardinal Dolan said when he announced his support of the new housing plan.

“Since the 1960s, the Catholic Church in all boroughs of New York City, through parishes, religious communities, community-based organizations and Catholic Charities, has been at the heart of the development and preservation of affordable housing.

“I applaud the Mayor’s far-reaching 10-year plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units throughout our city, and the Church in all boroughs of New York City looks forward to continuing to work with NYC and Mayor de Blasio to help achieve this important affordable housing goal.”

The Catholic commitment to affordable housing in New York City is illustrated by over 50 years of experience constructing, preserving and rehabilitating housing for the poor, the low income working families, seniors and persons with special needs.

Through the dedicated long-term commitment of parishes, clergy, religious communities, Catholic Charities and affiliated community based organizations more than 6,000 units of affordable housing for financially strapped families, elderly persons and formerly homeless individuals have been developed in every borough of New York City.

To emphasize this support, Msgr. Sullivan spoke in person at the mayor’s press conference today.

“Housing is a basic human right,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “The dignity of the human person – made in the image of God – is threatened when an individual or family does not have adequate housing.”

Msgr. Sullivan provided examples of the Church’s past, present and future commitment to affordable housing. They include Highbridge where for the past three decades Msgr. Sakano and Jorge Battista have rebuilt a neighborhood with almost 2000 units of housing. They include over 4000 units of affordable housing for seniors, families, the formerly homeless and persons with AIDS/HIV built under the leadership of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens including Bishop DiMarzio, Robert Siebel and John Tynan. And they include 3000 units of housing built and preserved by religious communities such as the Ursalines and Dominicans and the Sisters of Charity, Church-related community organizations and leadership of Msgr. Jenik, particularly in West Farms and Bedford Park.

“Less than a mile to the east on the Franklin Avenue Hill there is property that has been St. Augustine parish’s sacred worship space spanning three centuries,” Msgr. Sullivan added. “That worship community, though still vibrant, has become smaller and now worships in a neighboring parish church.

“That Church building was razed to prepare the site for affordable housing. It stands ready to be part of this initiative. This site will remain a sacred space because on it individuals and families will have a decent place to live, fulfill their potential and raise their families. Here human dignity will be honored and this space held sacred (by creating affordable housing for non-Catholics and Catholics alike.)

“Mr. Mayor, thank you for this initiative. Let’s get started.”

Want to Volunteer but You’re Tight on Time?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

We have tons of volunteer opportunities you can do from home.

Want to flex your artistic muscles? 

We’re looking for volunteers to create paint-by-numbers style images.  We’ll transfer your images to large canvases and get fellow volunteers to fill in the colors.  When we pull the painted canvases together – voila! – we have beautiful murals that brighten our sites serving folks in need.

How about your hospitality muscles?

We need volunteers to pull together hospitality kits for folks newly arrived in the U.S.. Like hotel welcome kits on steroids, they may include in toothbrushes, soaps and other toiletries, cleaning supplies, subway maps, granola bars and other ingredients you want to pop in to welcome and help folks get their bearing.

Similarly, we’re looking for housewarming gift bags to welcome some of the 440 individuals with mental illness we serve who are moving, many for the first time in their lives, into their own supported housing home.

And here’s an opportunity to bring out your inner Martha Stewart.

Help create We-Care cards to express love, support, and encouragement for those who are struggling.  Add your own personal messages of hope and cheer such as “Welcome to New York!” “Good Luck on Your Interview!” or “Happy Easter!”

 

Join us at Catholic Charities and vol-un-teer; [vol-uhn-teer] VERB: 1. TO PROVIDE HELP 2. TO CREATE HOPE

It’s NATIONAL VOLUNTEER WEEK – Let’s Celebrate!

Monday, April 7th, 2014

Two Ten Footwear Foundation paint murals to brighten group homes for the mentally ill.

By Alice Kenny

It’s National Volunteer Week, April 6-12, 2014, our opportunity to celebrate our volunteers’ dedication in helping others and encourage others to join the movement.

And while this is Volunteer Week, here at Catholic Charities, where the breadth of the services we offer depends on giving volunteers, every day is Volunteer Day.

We already have celebrations scheduled for our Refugee Resettlement and International Center volunteers on April 22 at 80 Maiden Lane.  And our Alianza division that provides artistic outlets for teens will hold their volunteer celebration on April 24 at La Plaza Beacon.

Join us in celebrating our wonderful volunteers.

Join us in helping change lives.

Getting started as a volunteer is as easy as 1-2-3.

Step One:
Browse our site

Step Two:
Sign up for an orientation.

Step Three:
Roll up your sleeves and join us.

 

 

 

 

Meet Laddie, Our Latest Volunteer

Monday, March 31st, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities Staten Island Senior Center just hired Laddie Boy, our latest and likely best-ever volunteer.

The therapy dog passed a stringent interview process, correctly responding to a demanding series of Q and A’s:  “Sit” (and Laddie sits); “Down” (and Laddie lies down); “Stay” (Well, you’ve got the idea.)

Highly trained and a real people ..err.. dog person, Laddie is part of the Angels On A Leash program,* clocking in his hours at the senior center.

Staff members Marni Caruso and Lisa Harrison say they enjoy getting to know Laddie – as he literally sniffs things out — to make sure he is a good fit.

Needless to say, it was an amazing experience watching him meet clients, they added.  The positive energy and excitement generated make them sure he is the perfect for this group.

Moreover, they look forward to consistent visits…and Laddie looks forward to consistent pets and treats.

*Angels On A Leash

Catholic New York Editorial: More Feeling Hunger’s Effects

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Msgr. Sullivan at St. Jerome’s food pantry

The numbers are shocking, writes Catholic New York in this recent editorial:

 In just five years, the number of New York City residents who depend on food pantries and soup kitchens has shot up to 1.4 million. That’s 200,000 more than in 2008      and it accounts for one-fifth of the city’s residents

And contrary to popular perception, the vast majority of those battling hunger are not the homeless.

They’re older women, they’re working families, they’re children and they’re veterans.

The appalling statistics: 1 in 5 city children live in food scarce homes; 1 in 6 city adults live in food scarce homes; 11.5 percent of people over 60 don’t have   enough food, an increase of 33 percent since 2008; 64 percent of people relying on the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens are women; 95,000 food recipients are     veterans.

The hunger crisis, and it is indeed a crisis, was spotlighted in lengthy and detailed coverage this week in the New York Daily News, which also pointed out the strains   placed on the charitable agencies, many of them Catholic groups, who run the city’s network of some 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens.

   Catholic New York

 

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of the Archdiocesan Catholic Charities, told the paper that people are turning to us for emergency help because it’s so hard for them to find jobs, or decent-paying jobs. Many, he added, don’t have enough to pay rent and to eat.

To lend an immediate hand and get personal insight he can share with legislators, Msgr. Sullivan is making the rounds, rolling up his sleeves and helping out at local food pantries affiliated with Catholic Charities.  Last week he volunteered at St. Jerome’s pantry in the Bronx.

“It’s an astounding surge in need,” he said.

Read the full editorial in Catholic New York.

 

March Is Social Work Month

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

March is Social Work Month, a time to recognize and honor social workers who provide help, create hope and help rebuild lives.

At Catholic Charities we are fortunate to have great social workers, case managers and other leaders dedicated to solving the problems of New Yorker’s in need.

On what we are calling “Social Work Wednesday” we invite you to meet this week another of our case workers, learn about what she does and see why she finds her career rewarding.

Nancy Cabrera – MSW

Q: How long have you worked in the field of social work?

A: I’ve worked in this field for 20 years.

Q: What does “social work” mean to you?

A: Social Work means to me to advocate, empower, empathize and fight indifferences.

Q: What do you like most about your career?

A: What I like most about my career is the satisfaction of making a difference in people’s life.

 

Disabled Teens Take Their Turn Changing Lives

Friday, March 14th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

In a classroom decorated with primary-colored posters detailing how to tell time, multiply and “Follow Your Conscience,” teens with various disabilities from St. Dominic’s School packed boxes with donated food to support Catholic Charities “Feeding Our Neighbors” campaign.

“A lot of these children feel disconnected,” said St. Dominic’s Principal Paul Siragusa. “Helping feed the hungry makes them feel they have an impact on society that they never before could have dreamed of.”

And the 80 students, ages 5- 21, had a major impact. Together they took on the entire food drive, from making posters to studying foods’ nutritional values to soliciting donations to preparing food for distribution. All told, the students collected 500 pounds of food, enough to provide the hungry with 625 meals.

Some of the financially less fortunate children contributed as well, which, Mr. Siragusa said, “was worth more than an adults bringing in an entire bag.”

Located in Rockland County’s rolling hills, St. Dominic’s School provides targeted learning for children with special needs. Its intimate size, including two instructors for every eight students, is balanced by its large reputation. St. Dominic’s draws children from New York City, Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties whose needs are too great to be met by their local schools.

The school is part of Saint Dominic’s Home. This nonprofit Catholic social welfare agency affiliated with Catholic Charities is dedicated to meeting the educational, physical, social, emotional, medical, vocational and spiritual needs of 2,300 individuals who are developmentally disabled, socially disadvantaged and/or vocationally challenged.

Founded in 1878, Saint Dominic’s Home began as a safe haven for immigrant children who had been abandoned on the streets of New York City. Today, St. Dominc’s Home provides person-centered care for individuals with developmental disabilities in the Bronx, Orange and Rockland counties so they can live their lives with hope and dignity in a family-like setting. It prepares and supports foster parents so they can give children, who often have been neglected, abused, or abandoned, a brighter future and a loving home and family. It delivers a continuum of care to adults with mental illness and provides them the greatest level of independence. It grows the minds of disadvantaged preschoolers so they are motivated to excel. It gives children and youth with developmental disabilities and serious emotional disturbance living at home the opportunity to live in a more stable family environment.

And, through St. Dominic’s School, it enables children facing emotional and educational challenges to reach their potential.

The food drive, Mr. Siragusa said, has served as a springboard for a variety of activities. Students now participate in “Letters to the Heroes” where they write letters to soldiers thanking them for their service. They also take part in “Operation Goody Bag,” sending candy and homemade Valentine’s Day cards to first responders.

Despite their personal challenges, the students have learned, Mr. Siragusa said, that “there is always something they can do to help someone else.”

Learn more about St. Dominic’s School and Home.

Lott Seniors Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler

Monday, March 10th, 2014

Catholic Charities Junior Board members partied with seniors at Catholic Charities’ Lott Residence, a home for the elderly in Harlem, in celebration of Mardi Gras.

They danced to a wide range of Bayou beats, feasted on fruit platters, and threw beads while their faces were masqueraded.

“This was a great opportunity for Junior Board members to socialize with our friends at the Lott Residence and spend time with those who are eager to share their stories and listen to ours,” said Catholic Charities Junior Board Member Kellen Dougherty.

“Although our friends at the Lott live in an assisted living facility, the amount of energy and joy that emanates from these residents is incredible, and an inspiration to all of us on the Junior Board.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Lott so we can maintain and strengthen the friendships we have made with so many residents there.”

The event marked one of dozens of volunteer opportunities available this Easter season.

Check them out; Join us and let the good times roll.