Cardinal Dolan Says Mass with Immigrant Children

August 4th, 2014


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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.”

Nonagenarian Celebrates Birthday Volunteering

August 1st, 2014

DSCF4004By Alice Kenny

Nonagenarian. What’s that?

And what kind of way is that to celebrate a birthday?

Well, for Virginia Suppies, our nonagenarian — AKA – she just turned 90 — volunteering at the Catholic Charities Ulster County Food Pantry was the perfect way to celebrate her big day.

Similar to Ms. Suppies – and her birthday party choice — the food pantry is special.  Located at 6 Adams St. in Kingston, N.Y. it is a full “Client Choice” food pantry.  Clients comb the aisles as if they were shopping at a mini grocery store, filling their carts with everything from canned goods to fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and poultry.

Volunteering at the food pantry is Ms. Suppies’ way of giving back, she says.  An added bonus is the friends she has made.

On her big day, the entire Ulster County Catholic Charities staff joined to wish her a happy birthday, share her ice cream birthday cake, give her a house plant and cheer as she tried on her newest gift and fashion statement, a Catholic Charities jacket.

“Virginia is one of our many dedicated volunteers that come to give their time and energy to help feed more than 1800 families in need, says Catholic Charities Ulster County Regional Director Tom Kelly. “She does it with care and compassion to everyone.”

Find out why Rusty McGranahan is running the NYC Marathon with Team Catholic Charities

July 31st, 2014

20140622_135749By Rusty McGranahan

I have raced in a number of marathons and triathlons, including  two full Ironman races, but so far not one homeless person, research team, student or child has benefited from my narcissistic quest to stem the tide of middle age.

This year I am trying to be a little different and am proud to be running the New York City Marathon for Catholic Charities of New York.  I have always considered Catholic Charities to be a key part of the support system in all the cities they serve and the organization is a natural extension of my family’s active involvement with our parish and the Catholic schools my three children attend – St. Ignatius Loyola and Regis High School.

To up the ante, I am making two pledges to those sponsoring me in this effort:

1) I will personally match the first $1,000 in donations on my page, and

2) I will work like crazy to achieve one of my life time goals of finishing in under 3 hours.  (I have a lot of work to do on this one.)

I encourage all of my family, friends and colleagues to give something and give generously via the following link:

www.crowdrise.com/TeamCatholicCharities2014/fundraiser/rustymcgranahan

Children Walk with Dinosaurs – and Run as They Roar

July 30th, 2014

dinosaurBy Alice Kenny

Children participating in Catholic Charities’ Alianza Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone Summer Day Camp walked with brontosauruses, T-rexes and fellow ferocious but, lucky for us, recreated life-size dinosaurs – and ran as they roared – during their camp trip last week to Barclay’s Walking with Dinosaurs show in Brooklyn.

The stopover in Brooklyn of 20 life-size dinosaurs’ was part of a worldwide, 217-city tour already seen by more than 8 million people.

The trip was one of many the children hailing from the low-income Highbridge section of the Bronx are taking part in during this free, seven-day-per week summer program. Their neighborhood, cut off from Manhattan not only by the unforgiving geography of the East River and the Major Deagan Expressway, has also been cut off by income, race and expectations.

Catholic Charities Alianza Division provides services for these youth ages 5 to 21 years old, promoting a world view that extends far beyond the streets where they live. We facilitate a free summer day camp, a middle school enrichment program, and evening teen lounge program where teens have a fun and safe place to hang-out at night.

Children Fleeing Violence Reach New York

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

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.

Fordham University Teams with Catholic Charities to Bring Art to Those in Need

July 25th, 2014

Photo Credit: Fordham Notes

“Staci Bruce remembers seeing the pictures in a hospital some years ago,” reports Patrick Verel this week in Fordham Notes, Fordham University News and Media Relations Bureau news blog. “Pastoral scenes, animals, still life, all created to lend a sense of peace, calm, and comfort to an otherwise stressful environment.”

Why, she wondered, couldn’t clients of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York also benefit from brightly colored artwork in its facilities?

So in 2013, Bruce, the agency’s director of volunteer services, began soliciting artists’ designs for therapeutic art that could hang in its various facilities.

Artists Olivia Servais and Mackensie Leigh answered the call, and on July 17, members of Fordham’s Office of Development and University Relations (DAUR) paid a visit to Catholic Charities’ offices to help replicate their work. After tracing the outlines of the art on to square wood-and-cloth canvases, DAUR members used watercolors and sharpies to fill in the blues, reds, yellows, and greens of the collages.

Bruce said the canvases will be hung in facilities that are home to Beacon of Hope, an assisted living facility for 400 adults with severe mental illnesses; Catholic Guardian Services, which provides foster care services; and Incarnation Children’s Center, a nursing facility that provides specialized care for children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS.

Beacon of Hope, she said, was the first to receive art, and the response was so positive that organizers at other programs began asking for pieces as well. In addition to the assembled canvases, Bruce has arranged for traditional outdoor murals to be painted on-site at the Incarnation Children’s Center.

“It’s an easy, fun way for groups to get together and contribute to the program,” she said.

Check out the full story in Fordham Notes.

Click here for more Catholic Charities volunteer opportunities.

Catholic Charities Convenes at the White House with Fellow New York Leaders; Explores Immigrant Integration

July 24th, 2014

Members of the NYS Unaccompanied Minors Working Group, (L-R) Dr. Alan Shapiro, co-founder, Terra Firma (immigrant youth clinic), Steven Choi, executive director , New York Immigration Coalition, Commissioner Nisha Agarwal, Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, and Mario Russell, director and senior attorney Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, NY (Photo : Rebecca S. Myles)

Catholic Charities NY joined fellow key members of the New York Immigration Coalition along with nearly 200 immigrants, immigrant integration experts and leaders of state and local governments from across the country to meet with officials from the Obama Administration last week for a White House Convening on Immigrant and Refugee Integration. The White House assembled this group to explore how the federal government can engage with communities on immigrant integration.

“This State and this nation have profited from the great contributions that immigrants have made throughout our history,” said Mario Russell, director and senior attorney in the Division of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, NY. “We celebrate these contributions by finding how best to receive newcomers into the family of New York so that they can feel welcomed and experience success.”

Read more on the Latin Post

 

 

Pregnant and Sleeping in Parks

July 23rd, 2014

mocha-goodcounselBy Alice Kenny

Worn out, desperate and five months pregnant, Mocha slept in parks, shelters, subways – any place she could find — before she found her way to Good Counsel Homes, an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

“I felt like I was the lowest of the lows,” she says, her brown eyes batting back tears.

Her experience is typical of women served by Good Counsel Homes, says its co-founder and Executive Director Christopher Bell as he steers a 2008 blue KIA minivan, dropping off donations of diapers, baby food and changing tables at Good Counsel Homes in Spring Valley, Harrison, Hoboken and the South Bronx.

“Women who come to us are all in crisis,” he says. “Their boyfriends told them to have an abortion.  Their moms threw them out when their babies were born.  Fewer than half have high school degrees.  Our job is to help them rebuild their lives.”

Counting Mocha, Good Counsel Homes has rebuilt nearly 6,000 lives since it began in 1984.  Similar to most, Mocha stayed there for nearly a year and a half.  She gave birth to her baby, worked two jobs, studied to become an electrocardiogram technician and learned how to be a mom.

“As soon as I stepped through the door I felt I had a home where I could get back on my feet,” she says.

Begun in a converted convent with a lot of help and little money, Good Counsel Homes now networks with maternity homes throughout the nation.

But, Mr. Bell says, it is caring for a single lonely mom and a single helpless baby that matters  most.  For Mocha, Good Counsel Homes gave her and the little boy she bore a chance for rebirth.

Today she and her now three-year-old son have a home of their own.

“I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for them,” Mocha says.

Meet Mocha in this video.

Do you know someone facing a crisis pregnancy?

“Anyone from anywhere for any reason at any age can call our crisis help line,” Mr. Bells says.

Call 1- 800-723 8331.  Call now.

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

July 22nd, 2014

By James Bowe

I chose to run for Catholic Charities because it addresses such a wide array of human needs regardless of religious background.  Catholic Charities feeds the hungry, provides job training and resources to help people get back on their feet, and offers children and youth better opportunities to learn and grow, among many others.

After graduating from college and hanging up the sprinting spikes, I started to run longer distances and eventually found that running became a sort of escape while simultaneously allowing me to push myself and to continuously challenge myself to run farther and faster.  I made it a goal to run a marathon so now I am running the 2014 NYC marathon for Catholic Charities.  I’m looking forward to challenging myself through training and adding another reason to why I am running:  I am doing it to help raise money for individuals served by Catholic Charities.

While I have not yet run a marathon, I ran four years of varsity indoor and outdoor track and field at Colby College, primarily competing in the 400m dash and 1600m relay.  I also participated in a sprint triathlon in college.  After college I focused on longer distance running and competed in a 5k for WCS in the Bronx Zoo in 2011, the Chicago Rock and Roll half marathon in July 2013 and the JP Morgan Corporate Challenge (3.3 miles) in June 2014.

I am training specifically for the marathon for 18 weeks running five to six days per week.  I will be racing in the Bronx 10 mile at the end of September and participating in NYRR long runs in August and September.  Additionally, I will be doing runs with the midtown Nike store running club two to three days per week.

My family and I have been involved with Catholic Charities for some time (primarily in DC where I grew up) so I was able to first hand witness the difference Catholic Charities makes in so many ways for so many individuals.

It is really inspiring to know that I am running for an organization that touches so many lives, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, with a high level of dignity and compassion across an array of human needs.  I am especially inspired by the many programs and services that are designed to set individuals up to lead a better life, whether it is a child who now has a nurturing after school environment or an out-of-work mother who is given training to get her back in the workforce and enabling her to support herself and her children.

Here is a link to my fundraising for Catholic Charities page:  https://www.crowdrise.com/TeamCatholicCharities2014/fundraiser/jamesbowe