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

Award – Winning Msgr. Patrick McCahill Shares Secret

Monday, February 24th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Msgr McCahill celebrating First Communion

Monsignor Patrick McCahill, the force behind services for the Deaf in the New York Archdiocese and recent winner of the Father David Walsh Pastoral Worker of the Year Award, shares a secret known largely only among the Deaf.

“When hearing people talk about the Deaf they think of it as a negative; that you can’t hear,” he says.  “But to be Deaf is also a matter of belonging; to belong to a group of capable friends who share a special language.”

Msgr. McCahill was let into this secret during his 45 years ministering to the Deaf.

“He has worked tirelessly to build a Church that is truly home for the Deaf in every ministerial capacity,” said Sr. Barbara Ann Sgro, OP, Coordinator of Deaf Services – Hudson Valley, when she nominated him to the National Catholic Office for the Deaf for this annual award that honors individuals who contributed significant dedication, support and assistance to Deaf Catholics.

The understated monsignor, known for his quiet voice and beloved Irish sweaters, already had his moment of fame when the renowned Deaf Choir he leads used sign language to perform before Pope Benedict during his New York visit in 2008.

But folks within the Deaf community, their families, friends and supporters know him better for the day-to-day difference he makes in their lives.

When he began his ministry, people with hearing impairments were stigmatized, he says.  Now they represent every profession, from lawyers to laborers.

“They are respected for their abilities,” he says, “and they have lots of them.”

A New Yorker through and through – his only other home was Yonkers during his stint at St. Joseph’s Seminary – Msgr. McCahill has become adept at translating even the most complex conversations.  He is often called on to translate between those speaking English, those speaking Spanish with obscure native dialects, those using American sign language and even those who grew up in isolated villages and developed their own symbols of communication.

As pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church in Manhattan where he moderates the archdiocesan Deaf Center located there, Msgr. McCahill celebrates sign language mass twice a month.  He also travels on alternate weeks to provide sign language mass in Staten Island and White Plains.  He conducts prayer services with the Deaf at Rockland Psychiatric Hospital. He supports and hosts Deaf seminarians, taught sign language to seminarians at the Archdiocese of New York’s Dunwoodie Seminary and catechesis at St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf in the Bronx and New York School for the Deaf in White Plains. He has been involved in Marriage Encounter for the Deaf, National Deaf Cursillo and hosted Cursillos for the Deaf throughout greater New York.  He coordinates and facilitates the New York State Pastoral Workers with the Deaf semi-annual gatherings.  And he is currently developing a series of Adult Faith Formation videos that use sign language to minister to the Deaf.

Because he runs so many archdiocesan services for the hearing impaired, he says that his biggest concern, perhaps not surprisingly, is inspiring seminarians to join him.

“You have to concentrate, to learn their language,” he says.  “It requires a fair amount of work and then it gets in your bloodstream.”

Learn more about Msgr. McCahill and his ministry in this latest issue of Catholic New York. 

Mourning the Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Gabriel Buoys Agence France - Presse - Getty Images

Catholic Charities joins in mourning the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most widely admired actors of our time, who died on Sunday at the age of 46 of a heroin overdose.

Thanks to appearances in such movies as “Capote”, for which he won a best actor Oscar, The Big Lebowski and The Savages, his ease at combining a somehow laid-back intensity with an offbeat sense of humor made millions of us viewers identify with him as Mr. Everyman.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hoffman was also known for his struggle with addiction.  He said on a 2006 “60 Minutes” interview that he had given up drugs and alcohol when he was 22, according to his obituary in The New York Times.  Then last year he checked into a rehabilitation program for about 10 days after a reliance on prescription pills resulted in his turning again to heroin.

He is survived by numerous family members as well as his three young children.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction there is no need to struggle alone.

Catholic Charities affiliated agencies offer specific programs to help treat and overcome addiction.  We helped treat 8,677 teenagers and adults last year for substance abuse.

Please contact us at:

 

Slide Show:  Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman:  The New York Times

Cardinal Egan Leads Avonte Oquendo’s Funeral Mass

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014
Photo Credit: AARON SHOWALTER/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Photo Credit: AARON SHOWALTER/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

By Alice Kenny

Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the former archbishop of New York, delivered the funeral Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Greenwich Village this weekend for Avonte Oquendo, the 14-year-old nonverbal boy with severe autism who disappeared from his school in Queens.  His remains, after months of searching, were found last week along the East River.

Cardinal Egan saluted the outpouring of kindness New Yorkers offered when they hunted for Avonte and now as they mourn his loss.

We understand, of course, that no one but Avonte’s parents can know the challenges they faced when they struggled to protect this special boy and the searing pain they feel now.

We understand this at Catholic Charities because, day in and day out, we provide support for persons with disabilities and their families.

To live with dignity and in safety, the senior adjusting to recent blindness, the developmentally disabled child, and the emotionally challenged adult need the intensive care and support provided by Catholic Charities. Through a network of specialized services, Catholic Charities cares compassionately for the most vulnerable New Yorkers – non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

Our thoughts and prayers are with Avonte and his family.

Do you have a disability or a family member facing challenges and looking for help?

For more information about a particular program and/or service, click below:

Supportive Housing for the Mentally Ill Caregiver Respite
Residences for Special Needs Adaptive Services for Deaf and Blind
Early Intervention and Special Education

 

If you need help in finding the services you need, please call the Catholic Charities Help line at: 888-744-7900.

For more information about Avonte Oquendo’s funeral, watch this video on CBS.

President Obama and Pope Francis to Meet; Discuss Shared Commitment to Fight Poverty

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2014

Photos courtesy of Fabi/AFP/GettyImages and AP Photo

President Barack Obama will meet with Pope Francis for the first time on March 27 at the Vatican to discuss the Pope’s commitment – made manifest through Catholic Charities – to serve the basic needs of the poor, troubled, frail and oppressed of all religions.

“The President looks forward to discussing with Pope Francis their shared commitment to fighting poverty and growing inequality,” said a White House news release distributed by CNN and other media outlets. Across the developed world, inequality has increased,” Obama said.

‘How can it be,’ Pope Francis wrote, ‘that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points.’

Read the full story from CNN.

 

Mayor de Blasio meets with Cardinal Dolan; Discusses Catholic Charities and work done on behalf of those in need

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

LUCAS JACKSON/REUTERS

Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Mayor Bill de Blasio met yesterday for the first time since the mayor took office to discuss how they might collaborate to foster the common good – particularly helping New Yorkers most in need.

They hope to convince Pope Francis – who the mayor called “the most powerful voice on earth on how to address inequality” — to visit the city to lend his voice to the urgent task of building a more compassionate and just New York.

“We talked a lot about Catholic Charities and the work it does on behalf of children, on behalf of people in need,” Mayor de Blasio said.

“We talked about the need to help prisoners returning to society, a whole host of areas (including affordable housing) where we have common ground and where we can work together.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, who attended the post- meeting press briefing and is serving on the mayor’s transition team, said  “I am not surprised, but still delighted, that the Mayor recognizes the tremendous good being done by our federation of Catholic Charities agencies in touching and responding to almost every human need… We look forward to working with the de Blasio administration and are already convening agencies experienced in these areas to discuss how we might best work with the new administration to expand these services and meet unmet needs.” Read Msgr. Sullivan’s full statement here.

Cardinal Dolan regularly visits Catholic Charities agencies and meets both those being served and the dedicated staff and volunteers.  Cardinal Dolan was upbeat and expressed his strong desire to work with Mayor de Blasio for the sake of the good of New York, and especially those most in need.

Catholic Charities Helps You Prepare as “Polar Vortex” Grips NY

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

As bitter cold bites New York plunging temperatures to their lowest in decades, Catholic Charities joins with the New York City Office of Emergency Management to help keep you and our fellow neighbors warm.

Warning:  Prolonged exposure to extreme cold weather can be deadly.  The National Weather service forecasts wind chills of near -10 degrees and below-freezing temperatures until Thursday.

Vulnerable populations, such as seniors and infants, are most at risk during extreme weather.  So it’s important to check on friends, family and neighbors if you think they need help getting to a warm place.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages everyone to stay indoors as much as possible.  If your home lacks heat, get to a warm, safe place immediately.

To discourage unnecessary trips outdoors, the NYC Department of Aging asks Catholic Charities and fellow operators of senior centers encourage participants to stay home.  None-the-less, some seniors need meals and a warm place to stay.

  • Catholic Charities opened its senior centers in certain locations including Staten Island.
  • We are also providing extra meals to bring home along with cold weather safety tips to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors.
  • Case managers are calling to check on homebound seniors and high-risk clients during the cold weather.

We urge you to join us in checking on neighbors, friends and relatives.

  • If you are concerned about someone on the street who may be homeless and in need of assistance call 311 and ask for the Mobile Outreach Response Team. The Department of Homeless Services will send an outreach team to the location to assess the individual’s condition and take appropriate action.
  • If your building is cold, check on your neighbors. If you know someone who is vulnerable and lacking heat, help them get to warm places and notify the building manager and/or call 311 to get heat restored. If you see someone with signs of hypothermia such as confusion, shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness call 911 for help and help the person get warm while waiting for help.
  • Landlords and building managers should check their building systems to ensure heat, and check on vulnerable people

Health problems resulting from prolonged exposure to cold include hypothermia, frostbite and exacerbation of chronic heart and lung conditions. Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite:

  • Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition where the body temperature is abnormally low. Symptoms may include shivering, slurred speech, sluggishness, drowsiness, unusual behavior, confusion, dizziness, and shallow breathing. Some people, such as infants, seniors, and those with chronic diseases and substance abuse problems can get sick quicker. Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors who may need assistance to ensure they are adequately protected from the cold.
  • Frostbite is a serious injury to a body part frozen from exposure to the cold. It most often affects extremities like fingers and toes or exposed areas such as ears or parts of the face. Redness and pain may be the first warning of frostbite. Other symptoms include numbness or skin that appears pale, firm, or waxy.

Provide first aid:

  • If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, call 911 to get medical help.
  • While waiting for assistance to arrive, help the person get warm by getting them to a warm place if possible, removing any damp clothing and covering them with warm blankets.

Click here for additional tips on:

  • What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
  • Safe Home Heating
  • Fire safety
  • If You Need Emergency Heating Assistance
  • Shelters and drop-in centers

For more information about cold weather safety and how you can prepare for emergencies call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/oem.

Click here for more information on Catholic Charities emergency food and shelter programs.

Call the Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900.

One-Legged Dad & Deaf Son Refuse to Let Disabilities Define Them

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Jose Arias did not curse fate when, at age 7, a car side swiped the car where he sat on a road in his native Dominican Republic and tore off his entire right leg. And he did not curse fate when his four-year-old son was diagnosed as deaf.

Instead he took any job he could get from cleaning cars to painting houses in Puerto Rico.  He and his son received legal U.S. permanent residence there nearly 20 years ago.

He also did all he could to help his son work hard as he did to overcome his own disability.  During school semesters, he sent the younger Jose to a school for the deaf in their native Dominican Republic because the school offered him a scholarship and a superior education than similar schools in Puerto Rico.  And during holidays and the summer months, he reinforced with his son the value of working hard to move beyond their life of poverty.

But when the U.S immigration authorities incorrectly took away young Jose’s green card in July 2011, Mr. Arias and his son did not accept this as fate.  Instead, for more than two years they fought back, hobbling from street to street and office to office speaking in Spanish, broken English and sign language to reverse this erroneous immigration decision.

Finally, thanks to free legal support supplied by Catholic Charities, an immigration judge completely reversed the flawed 2011 decision on October 24, 2013.  Now that Jose del Carmen is acknowledged once again as a lawful permanent U.S. resident he plans to complete studies to become a computer technician and land a job that will enable him to support his father as well.

Read their story in The New York Times.

Happy Endings in Time for the Holidays

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Marilynn K. Yee/The New York TimesBy Alice Kenny

Tragedy morphed into a happy ending thanks to Catholic Charities’ intervention,  The New York Times Neediest Cases campaign and support from readers like you.

Last year, The Times shared the profile of Carlos Castro.  As a teenager, he had been stabbed multiple times by thugs who tried to rob him and his friends on a street in Queens.  The lack of oxygen to his brain, a result of his severe blood loss, rendered him blind.

Yet he managed to find some work as a Spanish/English translator.

When the Times published the article about Mr. Castro last year, he and his mother, Ana, had recently escaped living in a miserable room in the city’s shelter system.

Now, thanks to Mr. Castro’s persistence finding new translating jobs,  readers’ generosity and Catholic Charities’ intervention, Mr. Castro and his mother celebrated Christmas in their new, spacious apartment in Queens.

Read Carlos Castro’s story here.

When the First Hurdle Is Remembering

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Her memory ravaged by damage done to her brain, Nikkiya Simmonds, 32, returned to an apartment that might as well have belonged to a stranger. It was a cozy dwelling, strewn with cute knickknacks and calming artwork that she was tickled to learn that she had chosen, that she was, indeed, home.

But learning the identity of the adorable, yet utterly unfamiliar infant who greeted her was haunting. The child was Ms. Simmonds’s 2-year-old daughter, Nikalia Harrison.

“I remembered being pregnant, but I didn’t remember her,” she said. “I felt real guilty.”

In March, Ms. Simmonds, with no prior history of epilepsy or convulsive episodes, was stricken by a grand mal seizure. The injury to the frontal lobe of her brain was so severe that her mind was purged of every memory of the previous two years, including the entirety of her daughter’s life.

After two months of hospitalization, Ms. Simmonds returned to a new life and a new reality; an eviction notice slipped under her door.

Catholic Charities Joins Upstate Rally Promoting Services for Immigrants

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Representing Catholic Charities Community Services and the new Opportunity Center that provides English as a Second Language and immigration legal assistance in Orange County, Catholic Charities Migration Counselor Jessica Lazo joined U.S. representatives, businesses, farmers and community leaders at a rally held in Newburgh earlier this month. Ms. Lazo spoke about services Catholic Charities provides immigrants as others urged Congress to take immediate action to pass immigration reform.

“Now is the time that the House should come together to support a bipartisan plan that will … create an earned pathway to citizenship,” said Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D- Cold Spring. “It’s not a handout but a fair way for hard-working people and their children to become citizens.”

Assemblyman Frank Skartados, D- Milton, agreed.

“As an immigrant who came to America when I was a teenager I have learned to appreciate the value of people who come here to make a better life for themselves and their families,” Assemblyman Skartados said. “The time is now.”

Meanwhile, President of the Dutchess, Putnam and Westchester Farm Bureau Mark Adams drew a loud ovation, reports The Times Herald Record, when he said that said the farming industry would be one of the biggest beneficiaries of reform. The industry, he said, needs a “willing legal workforce” or food may be produced offshore.

“It’s good for the economy, it’s good for business and it’s the right thing to do,” Skartados said.