Archive for the ‘Welcoming and Integrating Immigrants and Refugees’ Category

Real Internships: Refugees and the American Melting Pot

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

An outreach trip to the Brooklyn Grange– Urban rooftop farming merges with refugee resettlement, providing them with workplace acclimation in a more familiar farm setting.

Catholic Charities intern Franchesca Verendia wrote for her Boston College “Career Edge” website about her eye-opening summer internship with Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Department.  Her post includes photos of outreach trips she took and events she helped arrange.  Highlights include the Brooklyn Grange where urban rooftop farming merges with refugee resettlement to provide new arrivals with workplace acclimation in a more familiar farm setting.  It also includes a World Refugee Day Banner themed “Laying Roots” where clients painted a tree with their hand prints to symbolize leaves as well as the different countries they come from. And it includes insightful quotes from this perceptive college student such as:

“I have come to admire the resiliency of our clients who do not want pity… but rather just someone to point them in the right direction.”

Let’s find out what else Franchesca has to say:

This summer I had the incredible opportunity of working in the Refugee Resettlement Office of the Catholic Charities located in downtown Manhattan. As an intern, I worked mostly on an appointment-based system with clients in order to improve their English as well as explain American workplace customs. Additionally, I accompanied some clients to different government offices around the city in order to advocate on their behalf in the case that their English was limited…

 Given our focus on employment, I worked primarily with adults. While many of the jobs we help our clients get are entry-level jobs, these jobs help clients get the US work experience they need to professionally advance in the future, or help support them while they pursue higher education…The education levels and English proficiency found in our clientele is a wide spectrum, with some possessing PhDs and others not completing high school. Some clients may possess English that is grammatically better than my own, while others require a translator…

Clients come from a variety of backgrounds. Thus, each client is different and should be treated much like how one would treat anyone else—as an individual.

Throughout my time at the RRO, I have come to admire the resiliency of our clients who do not want pity, much like anyone who has grown up in the comfort of the US, but rather just someone to point them in the right direction.

I truly believe that any success a client achieves is one that is entirely their own. Clients rarely mention the reasons they fled their homes and instead focus on the future and what they must do to achieve whatever they believe to be the American dream.

Read Francesca’s full blog post.

 

Be Sure to Catch Larry and Friends

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Larry and Friends Event Flyer FINALBy Alice Kenny

Nearly two dozen immigrants, refugees, children and staff listened spellbound last week at Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement department in downtown Manhattan as an illustrator and writer, each New York based but bred in another land, shared their just-published story, Larry and Friends, an ode to immigration, diversity, friendship and acceptance.

The reading served as the kick off for a conversation about challenges immigrants face, some as obvious as learning a new language, others as surprising as getting used to the way Americans coddle their pets.

“Events like this help to create community with the clients we serve,” Catholic Charities Director of Refugee Resettlement Kelly Agnew-Barjas said after the event.

The book, filled with illustrations reminiscent of Maurice Sendak’s famed Where the Wild Things Are, was illustrated by Ecuadorian-born Carla Torres and written by Belgian-born, Venezuelan-raised Nat Jasper. Its silly yet sensitive story features a drum-beating African zebra, a tight-rope artist Polish pig, a Colombian street musician alligator and fellow ambitious animals relocated to New York City from around the world.

“We work so hard to help clients and we engage in very serious issues every day,” Ms. Agnew-Barajas added. “It’s important to step back and remember that we are part of a larger immigrant experience in New York City.”

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.

In Court, Immigrant Children Moved to Head of the Line

Monday, August 18th, 2014

Yovany’s first opportunity to face the United States justice system came late on Thursday morning, more than a month after his journey from Guatemala ended in an American detention center near the Southwest border, reports Kirk Semple in The New York Times on August 14, 2014…

Yovany was among 55 children who have come before the judge this week as part of a new accelerated court process, a cornerstone of the Obama administration’s strategy to deal with the surge of unaccompanied minors from Central America…

Before the surge of unaccompanied minors became a crisis for the Obama administration, the immigration courts in New York, among the nation’s busiest, held four special juvenile dockets every month for children facing deportation. In coordination with court officials, a coalition of groups — including the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Catholic Charities Community Services, Legal Aid, Safe Passage Project and the Door — provided screening and free legal representation to the children…

Immigrants’ advocates in New York learned only at the end of July that the Justice Department had scheduled the new juvenile dockets starting this week. The groups, already overstretched, rushed to develop a plan of action…

The special dockets unfolded this week on the 12th floor of 26 Federal Plaza, a hulking federal office building near City Hall. The children, most accompanied by relatives, began to gather in the hallway outside Courtroom 31 by 8 a.m., an hour before the hearings were to begin…

On both days, Elvis Garcia Callejas, a representative from Catholic Charities, used a white board to present the families with a primer, in Spanish, on how the court works and on possible avenues of relief they might pursue to avoid a deportation order.

Most of the defendants appeared to be teenagers, although there were children as young as 4. Two young sisters wore matching striped dresses.

“The judge is not going to rule today,” Mr. Garcia Callejas clarified…

Justice Department officials said they had a mandate to ensure that children went before an immigration judge within 21 days of being placed in deportation proceedings. They plan to hold the special dockets as often as necessary to reach that goal.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

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.

Summer Retreat for Scholars — If You Call Volunteering a Retreat

Monday, August 11th, 2014

“It’s summer time when thoughts of most college-age students turn to kicking back at the beach,” reports Catholic New York in this recent article. But the archdiocese’s Pierre Toussaint Scholars decided instead to have a retreat the last weekend in June.

Photo by Leah T. Dixon

Pierre Toussaint scholars are graduating seniors from various schools in the Archdiocese of New York who demonstrate active involvement in a church or faith community. They also score high on academic achievement. And they demonstrate a commitment to serving others, similar to the scholars’ namesake, the Venerable Pierre Toussaint.

Mr. Toussaint was born a slave in Haiti in 1766 and died a freeman in New York City in 1853. He touched the hearts of many by living his life, he said, “to be an apostle of goodness to everyone he met.” He was instrumental in raising funds for the first Catholic orphanage, starting the city’s first school for black children, providing funds for the Oblate Sisters of Providence, (a religious community of black nuns), and raising funds to build the Old Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. With money he earned as successful entrepreneur he purchased the freedom of others instead of his own.

The retreat included a service component, in which the scholars decorated backpacks for Catholic Charities. The backpacks will be distributed to the children of refugees.

‘This is part of what makes me proud of this program,’ said Brother Tyrone Davis, C.F.C., executive director of the archdiocese’s Office of Black Ministry, ‘that we have some of our college students-leaders involved in Church and ministry and that they might continue to do so even after graduating.’

Read the full story in Catholic New York.

 

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.

Cardinal Dolan Says Mass with Immigrant Children

Monday, August 4th, 2014


Check out this slide show

With unaccompanied minors serving as acolytes and filling the chapel, Cardinal Dolan celebrated mass on Sunday, August 3, at Catholic Charities affiliate Lincoln Hall.

These children who recently fled their homelands to escape violence and seek reunification with family members are finding safety at Lincoln Hall, a 19th-century mountain fortress whose history of protecting children alone and in need dates back to the orphans it took in during the Civil Wars

“Caring for the downtrodden, the outcast, the stranger among us, is part of our call as Catholics and we here in the Archdiocese of New York have been doing just that for more than 200 years,” Cardinal Dolan wrote in his recent blog post about the mass.

Every week, in cottages that dot a bluff at Lincoln Hall in Northern Westchester and in shelter facilities for unaccompanied youth across the area, Catholic Charities’ team of lawyers and paralegals encounters many of the thousands of children in the United States who have fled alone from abuse and violence in their homelands and who seek the comfort of a parent or loved one here.

“Pope Francis said it so well,” Cardinal Dolan wrote on his blog, “when he reminded us that ‘this humanitarian emergency requires, as a first urgent measure, these children be welcomed and protected.’

“And that is just what Catholic Charities, parishes, professionals and volunteers throughout the country are doing.”

Children Fleeing Violence Reach New York

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

“Immigration service providers and the city are working closely to streamline resources for the 3,200 child migrants who have reunited with family in New York,” reports Amelia Pang in Epoch Times. “But for the additional 10,000 who are expected to arrive in New York by the end of the year, it is unclear how such services will be funded for them. And for many, mental health care is a top priority.”

New York City service providers and government officials met last week to discuss the coordinated strategy they are undertaking, as part of the New York State Unaccompanied Minors Working Group.

“The working group brings together experts in immigration, legal advice, education, social services, medical and mental health services,” reports Rebecca S. Myles in the Latin Post.

According to organizers, more than half the children are coming to New York to reunite with a mother or father, and more than two-thirds are fleeing some kind of violence or threatening situation in their homeland. Fifty percent of the girls have suffered some kind of psychological trauma or abuse, and they are especially vulnerable.

 We need more resources to fund this,” said Steven Choi, executive director of New York Immigration Coalition (of which Catholic Charities is a member) tells Ms. Pang of Epoch Times.

The most important services the migrant children will need are attorneys and mental health care, and both are costly.

According to a United Nations report, 60 percent of child migrants are eligible for relief. The children, however, are not likely to receive relief if they do not have an attorney.

“Catholic Charities has a longstanding, comprehensive knowledge of the humanitarian plight faced by immigrants, including unaccompanied children, and we are looking forward to creating a coordinated response to this new call for help,” said  Mario C. Russell, Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services for Catholic Charities.

“Every week in residences for unaccompanied children in the New York area, our lawyers meet with and give preliminary legal assistance to dozens of immigrant children, over 2,000 in this year alone. This gives us first-hand knowledge of the trauma these young people have experienced, trauma that we have begun to attend to through our Safe Passages program and through Terra Firma, an innovative medical-legal partnership designed to meet the complex medical, psycho-social, and legal needs of unaccompanied minors.”

Read more in the Latin Post.

Find out more in the Epoch Times.

Catholic Charities Honored for Innovative Immigration Technology Use

Monday, July 28th, 2014

NEWAMERICANSHOTLINE-44LawLogix Group Inc., a leading Software as a Service (SaaS) provider to immigration attorneys and human resource professionals, announced on Monday, July 21, 2014,  the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York as the recipient of the 2014 LawLogix Innovation in Immigration Award.

“LawLogix is so pleased to honor the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York with the inaugural LawLogix Innovation in Technology Award,” said Kathleen Judd, Director of Client Services at LawLogix. “The EDGE immigration case management system helps the CCNY immigration staff manage office resources efficiently, translating into superior service to their clients. Congratulations to the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York team for their outstanding work.”

At any one time, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York has nearly 25 people working on immigration cases at several separate locations. They use EDGE by LawLogix to manage expiration dates and set reminders on cases, which enables their counselors to prepare for requests for evidence exactly when they need to. And every two weeks, the team gets reminder reports sent to them from EDGE, so that cases do not fall through the cracks.

But more than the reminders and timelines, the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York uses this technology system to run reports to give them summary client data they can share with grantors and government officials to help demonstrate the reach and impact of their organization.

“There are so many legal providers in our area, and having numbers from LawLogix about how many people we serve and what the need is for immigration services in the area we serve can make a difference when it comes to funding,” said Lindita Bërdynaj, Director of Operations at Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York.

The LawLogix Innovation in Immigration Award, given by LawLogix to a non-profit organization for innovative use of technology in their immigration practice, is in its inaugural year.