Find Out the Best Way to Celebrate Mother’s Day

May 8th, 2015

Today a mother ignores her own hunger to feed her child.  She waits on line for donated clothes and alters them so her child can shine.  She foregoes sleep to work a second job that barely pays the bills.

These are just some of the sacrifices mothers make for their children. All over New York, mothers are working tirelessly so that their children can have opportunities they themselves may have only dreamt of.With Mother’s Day drawing near, we invite you to honor a wonderful woman — your own mother — by supporting mothers and children in need.

Their future and the future of their children can be brighter thanks to your support.

The Best Way to Improve Your Child’s Mental Health

May 7th, 2015

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By Alice Kenny

Stand up against stigma today, May 7, 2015,  National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day.

There are few things sadder than a child struggling with mental health. Yet far too many face this struggle.

Did you know that:

  • One in five children has a seriously debilitating mental disorder? (National Institute of Mental Health)
  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24. (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Please remember that if you or someone you know is fighting mental disorders, you are not alone.  It is nothing to be ashamed of  and we are here to help.

Our Catholic Charities affiliate, Astor Services for Children and Families, is renowned for the mental health services it provides.  In fact, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray met with Astor staff on April 29th to discuss the value of its services and the experiences of her daughter who suffered from depression.

Check out Astor’s website and Facebook page for suggestions on how to improve your mental health.

If you have any questions or need immediate information, contact Astor by e-mail or by calling (845) 871-1117.

Join us as we proclaim that there is no health without mental health.

Personal Stories About Growing Up in Foster Care

May 6th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

After growing up in foster care, Patricia Yates, now 29, says she gained not only sadness but also strength from the challenges she faced.  She draws on this to work as a case manager helping others in need.

“It was difficult growing up without my biological family but I made it with a lot of loving people that saw my potential,” she says in this just-released video by Cardinal McCloskey Community Services, a Catholic Charities affiliate that helped her and fellow children and families in need.

“What it offered,” adds Nerine Hastins, another former foster-care child helped by Cardinal McCloskey, “was it gave me the chance to be the person I am.”

The agency’s success is so great that Westchester County Executive Robert Astorino recently proclaimed “Cardinal McCloskey Community Services Recognition Day.”

Watch Patricia, Nerine and four of their friends served by Cardinal McCloskey Community Services.

Find out why Westchester County named a day after this Catholic Charities affiliate.

Three Surprise Lessons Learned

May 5th, 2015
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Fordham University Social Work Graduate Student, Elsie Hernandez

Join us below as Fordham University Social Work Graduate Student Elsie Hernandez reflects on lessons learned during the 8-month internship she is completing with Catholic Charities Community Services.

By Elsie Hernandez

I have my colleagues, supervisors, and our clients to thank for their role in my education—I have learned the most by working with them. If I could summarize a year’s worth of learning in three lessons it would be this:

1. Never be afraid of asking questions. Asking the right question can open up a world of possibilities.

For example, a client whose work hours had recently decreased and was on a limited income had her electricity cut off. She did not understand why Con Edison required full payment of $2900 to reconnect services. I watched as a Catholic Charities case manager contacted Con Edison to request a breakdown of the client’s bill. At that point the Con Edison representative noticed that $2400 was added to the account in one day from back charges that had never been included in her account in the last 6 years. Understanding that this was an unrealistic payment for the client to make, the representative asked her supervisor to make an exception. The client was provided a payment plan with a low deposit and services were reconnected the next day.

2. Trust in your client’s resiliency.

We cannot solve every problem. Clients have surprised me with the enormous amount of strength and resourcefulness that they possess. They have expressed hope, faith and optimism in the face of adversity. A college student asked for assistance with paying for the class she needed to graduate. Together we brainstormed for resources she could activate.  This empowered her to creatively come up with solutions to solve her own problem. She will be graduating this May.

3. You never know which of your actions will have the most meaning to your clients.

A client was seeking assistance with paying her utility arrears. I was able to refer the client to the Human Resources Administration (HRA) for help.  Catholic Charities was also able to provide her with emergency food and a winter coat. I thought I did not do enough to help her but the client was moved to tears.

Thank you, Fidelis Care!

May 4th, 2015
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Left to Right: George Rodriguez, Mark Sclafani and Pamela Hassan from Fidelis Care present check to Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and Beatriz Diaz Taveras at Catholic Charities

By Alice Kenny

This health insurance company, also known as the New York State Catholic Health Plan, presented a $383,500 check to Catholic Charities on April 27, 2015.

Their donation will go a long way towards advancing both agencies’ missions of serving poor and medically underserved New Yorkers.

“We share your commitment to providing access to quality healthcare and other services for vulnerable individuals and are pleased to contribute resources to support your community programs,” Cardinal Dolan, a member of Fidelis Care New York and Rev. Patrick Frawley, Fidelis Care New York President and CEO wrote in a letter included with the donation.

A key part of the Catholic healthcare ministry, Fidelis Care enrolls over 1.2 million low-income New Yorkers needing health insurance coverage in various health insurance and exchange programs.

Learn English on Your Cell Phone

May 1st, 2015

All immigrants in New York State will have access to a free English program pending the results of a pilot with Spanish-speaking residents. Shutterstock/Rob Marmion

Plenty of politicians think that immigrants should learn English, but now one of them is doing something about it, reports Latin Times.

Catholic Charities is partnering with the New York State Office for New Americans to enroll immigrants in the program.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) made his state the first to offer English lessons via cellphone as a part of a pilot program run by the social venture Cell-ED. The first phase of the program, directed at Spanish speakers in selected New York counties, reportedly costs the state a mere$14,000. The program will be free for participants, aside from the cost of minutes and text messages on their phones. Cuomo’s administration hope that the English lessons will help struggling immigrant who hope to improve their English but don’t have time to attend classes in person.

The program, overseen by the The New York State Office for New Americans (ONA) and contracted to Cell-ED combines text messages, voice tutorials, and two-way communication with tutors. Pending a successful pilot, all New York state residents will be able to call a Cell-ED number to begin receiving tutorials as well as the ability to send back answers to be automatically reviewed and corrected. While the pilot program is offered in Spanish, the ONA says that other languages such as Mandarin, French and others could be added in the future.

Read the full story in Latin Times.

Hundreds Rally for Cost-of-living Adjustments

April 30th, 2015

Photo Credit: Human Services Council

“Hundreds of representatives of the human services sector convened on the steps of City Hall on Monday, April 27, 2015, to call for cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) in their city contracts,” reports New York Nonprofit Daily. Representatives from Catholic Charities stood among them.

The City relies on nonprofit human services providers to deliver billions of dollars in essential services to communities across the City. Despite a recovering economy and a skyrocketing cost of living, however, these nonprofit organizations have not received a City COLA since 2008.

The Human Services Council of New York (HSC) organized this rally to draw attention to the needs of the sector and the communities that it serves. HSC supports Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to fighting inequality, and wage increases for our sector will advance this cause.

The human services sector plays an important part in improving community health and safety, combating poverty, and fostering equity.

Nonprofit organizations provide job training and placement, early childhood education and after-school enrichment, violence intervention, legal assistance, homeless shelters, community health services, assistance to immigrants, senior services, and much more.

These services empower struggling New Yorkers to overcome a vast array of challenges impeding their ability to succeed. In addition to improving the lives of the disadvantaged, this industry is a major economic engine. In New York City alone, nonprofit organizations deliver nearly $5.5 billion in human services each year through City-funded contracts. The vast majority of human services workers are women and people of color.

 

Read more in New York Nonprofit Daily.

Parallels Between My Jewish Faith & the Mission of Catholic Charities

April 29th, 2015

meiraFordham University social work graduate student Meira Zack is completing an 8-month internship with Catholic Charities Community Services.

By Meira Zack

I am Jewish and interning here at Catholic Charities has been my first real exposure to Catholicism and its observances. What better place to experience it than the Archdiocese!

As a religious individual, I have always been inspired by the mission-driven attitude behind our work at Catholic Charities Community Services.  This meaningful connection was intensified for me by the period of Lent and the Lenten message repeated in multiple agency emails: “Forty days before Easter when, through prayer, sacrifice and helping others, we transform our Christian love into action.”

This message particularly spoke to me because it parallels the three-fold mantra of the Jewish High Holy Days “Teshuva, Tefeela, uTzedaka, ma’aveerin et ro’ah hagezayra – Repentance, Prayer, and Giving revoke the evil decree.”

It inspired me to meditate on the messages of Teshuva, Tefeela, and Tzedaka, and what they have meant to me in the context of my time here at Catholic Charities.

  • Teshuva/Repentance – repairing damage done and healing wounds between self and God and self and others.  At Catholic Charities Community Services, we repair the relationship between society and its vulnerable populations; we help clients repair damage done in their personal lives.
  • Tefeela/Prayer – faith in God, supplication to God, dialogue with God; communal prayer and solidarity.  At Catholic Charities Community Services we are in a unique position where clients may ask us to pray with or for them; where they may turn to us for religious inspiration and hope.
  • Tzedaka/Giving – giving of one’s self, time, and money.  At Catholic Charities Community Services, we not only give of our time and selves in the work we do every do with clients, but also of our own resources in raising funds for the St. Nicholas Project and pantry items for Feeding Our Neighbors.

The united messages of “prayer-sacrifice-helping others” and “repentance-prayer-giving” teach the same lessons of repair, giving, honesty and togetherness with a focus on God as inspiration, partner, and conduit for “providing help, creating hope, and upholding the dignity of each person as made in the image of God by serving the basic needs of the poor, troubled, frail and oppressed of all religions.”

This is the vision and mission of Catholic Charities.

A Thank You Note from A Once-Struggling Teen

April 28th, 2015

shaquielleShaquille Vazquez, 19, and now a freshman at Onondaga Community College, credits Catholic Charities for getting him there.  Our Alianza division’s Innovation Diploma Plus High School Learning to Work program (IDP /LTW for those who like initials) provides the support challenged teens like Shaquille need to thrive. 

He asked us to share his thank you letter:

I was solely centered on friendship, girls and playing football but thanks to all of the people involved at the Catholic Charities Learning To Work program I realized that with that kind of mindset I was going nowhere.

As I remember all it took was attending a college trip with the LTW program. At first my advocate begged me to go, I thought that it was really I waste of time but the magic just happen, I felt in love with the college life. I saw myself in every student I had a chance to meet, and then I learned that I was qualified to apply to the school but there was a lot of work to be done.

The first thing I did was becoming a youth leader at the LTW College Access Youth Leadership Program, where I was able to learn and navigated college programming. All the trainings I  attended about college explorations, applications and financial aid process made it easier for my own, plus the support of the all the staff.

My experience at IDP/LTW has helped me grow as a student and more importantly to grow as a young individual.

I thank IDP and Catholic Charities Alianza LTW Program for welcoming me with open arms.

Feeding Our Neighbors, 1.3 Million Times

April 27th, 2015

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“Catholic Charities’ Feeding Our Neighbors campaign topped its lofty goal of providing 1 million meals to New Yorkers in need,” writes Catholic New York in their recent editorial. “And thanks to the efforts of Catholics across the archdiocese as well as a host of other partners, the annual initiative collected enough food to make 300,000 additional meals available to those coming to food pantries and soup kitchens, many in local parishes, for assistance.”

Catholic Charities, under Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, the executive director, deserves a lot of credit for laying out a successful vision that encourages participation and support from such a wide net of donors and facilitators…

In commending Catholic Charities, and by extension the thousands who helped it collect 1.3 million meals, we know the heart of Feeding Our Neighbors’ success is its ability to deliver a Gospel-driven response to real needs. It’s a simple formula, really, and the benefits extend to donors as well as recipients.

Read the full editorial in Catholic New York.

And thank you for your help feeding our neighbors!

Do you have a personal story about how you helped?

Share it in our comments section