Catholic Charities Celebrates the Puerto Rican Day Parade

June 22nd, 2015
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By Teresa A. Santiago

 

From its humble beginnings 58 years ago when the Puerto Rican Day Parade was composed of Las Hijas de Maria, La Liga del Sacrado Corazon and Los Cursillistas from parishes around the City to the annual Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Catholic Church has played a crucial role in the Puerto Rican Day Parade and it is part of the parade historic legacy.

 

Catholic Charities continued this legacy last week with the participation of over 50 staff and volunteers marching up Fifth Avenue, handing out prayer cards with the Patron of Puerto Rico, La Virgen de la Providencia, sunglasses, fans and t-shirts all sporting Catholic Charities information to the 2 million people that lined the parade route.

 

But Catholic Charities’ involvement was more than just marching in the parade.  Catholic Charities has developed an important initiative with the National Puerto Rican Day Parade to provide services to the Puerto Rican/Hispanic community of New York. Catholic Charities along with the leadership of the parade began a food drive last year to support the Feeding our Neighbors Program. The food drive continued this year with Catholic high schools in the Bronx and Manhattan participating in effort.  The food collected will stay in the Latino neighborhoods.

 

In addition, Catholic Charities work with the Office of Hispanic Ministry of the Archdiocese of New York was instrumental in the planning of the annual Parade Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral that takes place the first Sunday of June. The Mass went off seamlessly. The entrance procession highlighted many Puerto Rican cultural iconic symbols, like its musical instruments: el cuatro, guiro, panderettas and maracas, images of the Three Kings, La Virgen de La Providencia and vejigante mask. Parade banners were blessed, Las Hijas de Maria offered flowers and Feeding Our Neighbors food boxes were offered.  The folkloric Mass, (Misa Jibara) was performed by La Tuna de Mayaguez, a musical choir from Puerto Rico.  Fr. Eric Cruz, Catholic Charities’s Bronx Coordinator was the main celebrant of the Mass with co-celebrants Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sulivan,  Msgr. Robert Ritchie, Rector of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fr. Lorenzo Ato, Director of the Hispanic Pastoral Ministry and Fr. Brian McWeeney, Director of  Ecumenical and Inter-Faith Affairs for Ethnic Apostolates, and Ecclesial Ministries and Organizations.

Best way to celebrate Father’s Day

June 19th, 2015

Happy Father’s Day
Sometimes the perfect Father’s Day gift is simply telling him how much he means to you. Thank you to all of the fathers out there.

Share this card with the man who means the most to you:

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Rent Laws Expired But You Still Have Rights

June 18th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Tenants are fuming; others are frightened, as the fate of rent regulations remain in limbo. Days after the rent law expired, Gov. Cuomo and legislative leaders remain in a standoff on how much landlords can charge for rent-regulated apartments in New York City and its suburbs.

Don’t worry. You still have rights.

According to the NYC Dept. of Housing:

If you are one of the more than two million New Yorkers who lives in rent-regulated housing, here’s what you need to know:

  • Your lease is still in effect and remains in effect through the term of the lease.
  • There are still laws on the books protecting you from harassment, and the City is enforcing those laws.
  • We have put together an emergency hotline: Call 311 if you have any concerns or questions about your apartment.
  • If your landlord is harassing you, withholding services, or trying to exploit any lapse in the rent regulation laws to get you to leave your apartment, you should call 311 immediately.

Catholic Charities supports a vast network of shelters, temporary, transitional housing and permanent affordable housing to help families and individuals.

Learn more.

 

Gender & Justice – in the Age of Mass Incarceration

June 17th, 2015

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By Alice Kenny

Hard to believe – yet true. American women make up only 4.5 percent of women in the world.

Yet they represent nearly 33-percent of the world’s female prisoners!
Worse still, the number is growing in part because of the mass detainment of impoverished and persecuted immigrant women and girls who fled to the U.S. for safety.

“Detained women are already a vulnerable population; detained children, even more so,” says Catholic Charities Immigration Staff Attorney Lorilei Williams who spoke at a Gender and Justice symposium held last week at Vera Institute in downtown Manhattan. “Many detained immigrants have no criminal history, and yet they are detained in a system that is not subject to rigorous review.”

At Catholic Charities we help girls and women who fled gangs, rapes and violence that too often dominate their homelands.

Do you need immigration help?

Call our New York State New Americans Hotline operated by Catholic Charities.

1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS)

Celebrating World Refugee Day 2015

June 16th, 2015

By Kelly Agnew-Barajas
Director of Refugee Resettlement at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York

Staff, interns and volunteers from Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement were joined by clients new and old to celebrate World Refugee Day last Friday, June 12. Also joining them were staff and clients from fellow immigration service providers including the International Rescue Committee, CAMBA, Refugee and Immigrant Fund, and Safe Horizon.

The event was held at the Friends Meeting house in Manhattan on a hot summer afternoon. Although World Refugee Day is officially on June 20th, the celebration was scheduled earlier to allow Muslims who will be fasting during Ramadan (starting June 17th) to join in the celebration.

Catholic Charities staff and interns set up a photo booth with props and signs.  They also provided sidewalk chalk for kids to draw with. These were a big hit.

The New Americans Hotline that provides information and referrals for immigration questions over the phone  also shared resources and materials.

Everyone enjoyed homemade classic Cuban ropa vieja, Colombian ceviche, Mexican flan, cool watermelon and tons of snacks.

Tsering Dolkar,  an asylee client who was helped by Catholic Charities in 2009, came as a representative of her whole nine person family.

She described how Catholic Charities helped to provide a foundation of support and knowledge which has allowed her and her whole family to thrive. She also expressed profound gratitude for setting her and her family on the right path.

Brothers Break Barriers; Set Legal Precedent

June 15th, 2015
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Carlos Vargas

By Alice Kenny

Cesar Vargas just joined his now much publicized brother, Carlos, in breaking barriers so big that his story also landed in The New York Times.

As CrossStreets readers, you probably  remember Carlos. He interned with Mark Zuckerburg at Facebook.  He washed dishes at a restaurant to help support his family at age 13.  He put himself through the College of Staten Island, taking seven years to graduate because he held down full time jobs while studying at the same time.  But because his mother brought him from their impoverished Mexican home to the U.S.  when he was 4 years old, he could not gain legal status.

Catholic Charities helped him renew his Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status.  This program does not alter his immigration status but does allow him to work and not face deportation.  And The New York Times reported on our success in this New York Times Neediest Case.

Now Cesar, who, like his brother, also has DACA status, just won a precedent-setting legal ruling.  An appellate panel of the State Supreme Court approved Cesar’s application to join the New York State Bar last week.  That makes him the first immigrant without legal status to be approved to work as a lawyer in New York.

The decision could be a test case, writes The New York Times, not only for the city but also for the country.  It could affect hundreds of immigrant would-be lawyers.  And it could empower fellow immigrants who arrived as children to the United States and received a reprieve from deportation.

Closer to home, this Supreme Court decision also directly affects Cesar’s brother.  Carlos just entered law school.

And both brothers plan to continue breaking barriers.

“In the end, if you are really going to be an advocate,” Cesar told The Times, “you can’t hide and you can’t just wait in the shadows.”

Read all about it in The New York Times.

Thank You, Deloitte Volunteers!

June 12th, 2015

DSC07532B-W-smBy Alice Kenny

Dozens of volunteers from the national consulting firm Deloitte fanned out across New York City last week to help us serve those in need.

They hammered together wooden planter boxes and filled them with flowers to cheer up residents with mental illness served by Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope in Staten Island.

They played board games at our New International Center in downtown Manhattan to help new immigrants hone their English while having fun.

And they held mock interviews and more with struggling high school students served by our In School Youth College and Careers Program in Washington Heights.

The annual event called “Deloitte IMPACT Day” was held this year on June 5.  It encourages  employees to kick off their fiscal year by giving back to the community.

It also demonstrates how much we can accomplish when we team up together.

Wish you had been there?

At Catholic Charities it’s never too late to volunteer.

Check out our latest list of volunteer opportunities.

Tips and Tricks for Running the NYC Marathon

June 11th, 2015

2015-01-14 21 24 26-3Our 12 Team Catholic Charities runners are gearing up for the big day, the TCS New York City Marathon scheduled for November 1, 2015.

They’ll be  racing through all five boroughs.  They’ll be running more than 26 miles. And they’ll be surrounded by tens of thousands of fellow runners in what is called the largest marathon in the world.

How do they do it?

During the next five months we’ll share with you their tips and training advice.  And we’ll also  share why they’re running for Team Catholic Charities.

Today, as our inaugural TCS NYC Marathon 2015 blog post, let’s here from Katrina Maniego.

 

Why I’m Running the NYC Marathon with Team Catholic Charities

By Katrina Maniego

I have already run two to three half marathons but never a full marathon. I am excited to run my first marathon, take it as a challenge and am following a training plan I purchased online to prepare.

I live in NYC but travel for work to Denver, Co, which makes my training interesting. I am in NYC during the weekends and it is where I generally do my long runs. During the week, I am in Denver.

I like the change of environment because it adds a bit of color to my training.

NYC is noisier and more populated. Here I run along the East River, so I run alongside tall buildings and the view of water. I get motivation from all the interesting New Yorkers I see during my run. Also, there is a constant flow of New Yorkers running. I can run any time of the day or night, any kind of weather and there will be someone running with me.

In Denver, the altitude is higher but the air crisper. The mountains are around you and there are a lot of trees. I run a path alongside a creek. It is quite beautiful. If I wanted to run the path from start to end it spans about 12 miles. It’s taking me a bit more effort to do my interval running because of the altitude.  But the group I joined to train with is pacing me to some extent and I am making new friends.

The proceeds of this fundraising is particularly targeted to Catholic Charities St. Nicolas Project. I’ve participated in the St. Nicholas shopping spree (using donations to purchase holiday necessities for persons in need .

I think we always should be thinking of ways to help other people and make them happy.  But this is especially true during Christmas when we are constantly reminded of the blessings we have and the sacrifice Christ has made for us.  We should be more inclined to offer help and support.

Click here to support Katrina’s TCS NYC Marathon campaign. 

“Fixing NYC’s Lousy After-school Rules”

June 10th, 2015

Photo Credit: Jeanne Noonan – NY Daily News

By Sr. Paulette LoMonaco
Executive Director of Good Shepherd Services, an affiliate of Catholic Charities

(Excerpts from Sr. LoMonaco’s editorial published in today’s Daily News)

It is hard to find anyone who does not think a school benefits from having an after-school program. The programs are an ideal way to protect and nurture students while helping families juggle work schedules.

Unfortunately, well-intentioned bureaucracy is getting in the way of common sense in regulating these programs, and our children and families are paying the price.

This is a story of regulation run amok, and it starts in Albany.

After-school programs in schools are regulated by two different agencies at the state level…Their rules often come into direct conflict with each other.

(For example) Have you ever walked into a school without posters and student work on the walls? Probably not; teachers are routinely encouraged to make their classrooms visually engaging.

However, Office of Children and Family Services regulations regard those posters as a fire hazard and, as a result, there are after-school staff throughout the state who every day have to carefully take them down at 3 p.m. — and put them back up at 6 p.m…

In some cases, children are actually out on the streets because programs that would have kept them safe and engaged until their parents come home were waiting — sometimes for a whole school year — for a waiver or a minor repair. This affront to common sense is no one’s fault and certainly is not intentional, but that does not absolve us from finding a solution to the damage caused by dueling regulations.

Fortunately, someone’s listening to complaints. State Sen. Simcha Felder of Brooklyn and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo of Binghamton have a bill that would solve the problem, by simply waiving building-related conflicts for any after-school program operating in a public school building in compliance with Education Department requirements. It’s been approved by the relevant Senate and Assembly committees.

The legislation makes perfect sense. It does not ask the Office of Children and Family Services to change in any way, shape or form regulations tailored to protecting children in other aspects of the after-school program, such as staffing ratios, nutrition, activities or background checks. Nor will it change physical requirements for after-school programs outside a school building.

Let’s fix this crazy quilt of regulations and finally let school-based after-school programs focus on meeting the needs of our children and families.

Read the full editorial in today’s Daily News.

Gold Medalist Chris Mullin Credits CYO for Kicking Off His Career

June 9th, 2015

150604-0881By Alice Kenny

Chris Mullin, one of the greatest NBA players of all time, received the John V. Mara Sportsman of the Year Award on June 4th at the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) Club of Champions Tribute. A two-time gold medalist, Mr. Mullin ranks seventh all-time on the USA Basketball scoring list.

He kicked off this long list of achievements, he said during his acceptance speech, by playing CYO basketball at St. Thomas Aquinas Parish in Brooklyn.

Honorary Co-Chairs Cardinal Dolan and John K. Mara, President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Football Giants, presented the award at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in
Manhattan.

Duke Castiglione, sports anchor for FOX 5 New York, served as Master of Ceremonies. Raymond Quartararo, Managing Director of Global Real Estate, JP Morgan Chase & Co., was the Gold Medal Award Honoree.  And Jeanne Mullgrav, Executive Vice President, Capalino+Company, received the Terence Cardinal Cooke Humanitarian Award.

The John V. Mara award is given to an individual who has exhibited exceptional sportsmanship throughout his or her career.

This sportsmanship, Mr. Mullin said, is thanks to his experience playing Catholic Charities CYO, an experience that instilled core values that influenced his life.

Learn more about this All-Star event. 

Check out these photos on Facebook.