Four Bold Ideas to Mend Police-Community Relations

February 11th, 2015

alianza-police-communityBraving frigid temperatures, over 150 youth, community leaders, members of the public and NYPD law enforcement officers, banded together last week to discuss the dicey subject of community-police relations.

Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer and Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of New York held the event at the Catholic Charities Alianza Dominicana Cultural Center in Upper Manhattan.  There to speak, listen and learn were:

  • NYPD brass:  Chief James O’Neil and Deputy Chief Kathleen O’Reilly
  • Councilmen Ydanis Rodriguez and Mark Levine
  • Plus more than 20 students from Catholic Charities various programs including:

      o     Alianza Dominicana Division’s Dyckman Cornerstone

      o     Highbridge Cornerstone

      o     La Plaza Beacon School, MOSAIC Beacon School

      o     Brandeis HS Complex: Innovation Diploma Plus LTW (Learning to Work) programs George Washington HS for Media & Communications

      o     George Washington HS for Science & Technology

      o     ISY TTA Harlem (Kennedy Center)

Their goal was to develop input and policy suggestions from participants of all backgrounds and walks of life.  To do so, they participated in moderated small-group discussions on policing, civil rights, and community safety.

Moderators guided groups at twelve tables to identify specific problems and opportunities, generate practical policy recommendations and formulating at least one bold, transformative idea per group.

Here is the Top-Four Sampling of  Bold Ideas:

  1. Monthly police and youth events at the local Beacon Schools, Cornerstone programs, SONYC and COMPASS after-school programs
  2. Police precincts hosting some of their monthly meetings at community center, partnering CBO’s space or locations
  3. Making NYC residency a requirement for NYPD officers
  4. Assign more beat cops instead of patrol cars

The Borough President Gale A. Brewer in conjunction with Civil Rights Attorney Norman Siegel will compile and report the recommendations later this year after convening several more forums throughout the borough of Manhattan.

Check out our photos of the event on FaceBook.

What’s So Great About a Random Act of Kindness?

February 10th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

It’s Random Acts of Kindness Week.

So, we wonder, what’s in it for me?

Watch this powerful video and find out.

Inspired?

Join us this special week, February 9 – 15, 2015, and help spread the kindness.

Looking for ways to pitch in?

How about:

We have plenty of ways to help — this week and every week.

Join us now.

Migrant Children: A Four Part Series

February 9th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Fifteen years old, hungry and alone, Elvis Garcia hitched rides, scrambled atop freight trains and dragged himself through 1,200 miles of deserts to reach his promised land, the United States.

Now this former unaccompanied minor works for Catholic Charities, helping fellow young immigrants survive  and thrive.

Catch this powerful 4-part News 12 series when it airs its first program today, Monday, February 9, 2015.

A Special Thank You from Msgr. Kevin Sullivan

February 9th, 2015

thankyouI am amazed and humbled by what we can do when we come together to help our neighbors.

Because of you, so far this year’s Feeding Our Neighbors campaign has already collected over 400,000 meals for families in need.

We are making the final tally, including donations from our corporate and inter-faith partners, and our own parishes and schools. In the coming days, we will let you know the total contributions for this year’s campaign and the overall impact your generosity will have on hungry New Yorkers.

With gratitude,

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan

P.S. If you’d like to make a contribution you still can.
Donate here.

Human Trafficking: Don’t Look the Other Way

February 6th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Join us this Sunday, February 8, as we raise awareness to this horror during the first International Day of Prayer and Awareness Against Human Trafficking.

Where is the brother and sister whom you are killing each day in clandestine warehouses, in rings of prostitution, in children used for begging, in exploiting undocumented labor,” says Pope Francis.  “Let us not look the other way.  There is greater complicity than we think.  The issue involves everyone!”

Catholic Charities helps victims who have undergone the horrendous humiliation of human trafficking regain their dignity.  We provide legal and social services.  And we run Dignity of Work, an initiative of the Anti-Trafficking Program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, that helps new arrivals train for and land jobs to support themselves and their families.

Do you need help?  Call our New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS).

Learn more and join us.

From Sleeping on Subways to Hollywood Success

February 5th, 2015

Covenant House Alumnus Moves To Next Round of American Idol! from CovenantHouse on Vimeo.

By Alice Kenny

A big guy with a big name but short on luck most of his life, formerly homeless Hollywood Anderson just won a ticket to his namesake, Hollywood, CA. 

It’s all thanks, he says, to Catholic Charities affiliate/homeless shelter Covenant House and his powerful performance on American Idol.

Mr. Anderson, 22, found safety from the city streets along with the security and support he needed to thrive at Covenant House.  His transformation from sleeping on subways to success began when Norm Lotz, a Covenant House executive, noted the then-homeless young man’s talent and passion for music.  In addition to the home, food and counseling that Covenant House provided the young man, Mr. Lotz also gave him his first guitar. 

The rest is American Idol history.

Watch the video that inspired millions of viewers.

Whiz Kid Immigrant Works with FB’s Mark Zuckerberg but Still Can’t Get Permanent Legal Status

February 4th, 2015

photo 2By Alice Kenny

Similar to many New Yorkers, Carlos Vargas attended kindergarten through college in New York City.

Similar to very few, he worked on a mobile app with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

And similar to a small percentage, he relies on temporary, two-year government immigration renewals to  remain in the nation where he has lived since he was five years old.

In this land of opportunity, Carlos has come a long way.  His widowed mother cleaned houses, babysat and collected cans to support him and his four siblings.  To help out, Carlos began at age 13 washing dishes daily at an Italian restaurant near his home while discovering his passion for computers and eventually putting himself through college.

He qualified for DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals available to some children brought to the United States by parents who lacked legal immigration status.  After receiving DACA legal immigration status two years ago that includes two years of work authorization in the U.S., he came to Catholic Charities to apply for mandatory renewal to avoid  to Mexico, a land he barely remembers.

Read his full New York Times Neediest Case story now.

Immigration Reform Answers in Every Language

February 3rd, 2015

So many questions about immigration reform!

¡Tantas preguntas!

At Catholic Charities we have answers in nearly every language.

Join us today, Tuesday, Feb. 3, for an informational meeting held in Spanish at PS 20, 161 Park Avenue in Staten Island, to learn more about President Barack Obama’s immigration reforms.  Topics will include Deferred Action for Parental Accountability, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and more.

Top experts — including Catholic Charities, El Centro Inmigrante, the Mayor’s Office of Immigration Reform and more  –will be there to answer your questions.

Read all about it in silive.com.

A Young Woman Tries to be the Kind of Mother She Never Had

February 2nd, 2015

Masicqua AndrewsBy Alice Kenny

Abandoned by her mother, abused by the aunt that raised her and beaten by her boyfriend, Masicqua Andrews, 20, says the only place she has felt loved and safe are at school and at the Catholic Charities affiliated Covenant House homeless shelter where she and her baby are rebuilding their lives.

“They are like the family I never had,” Ms. Andrews said of Covenant House, a Catholic Charities affiliate, in a recently published New York Times Neediest Case profile. “They support me through everything I do.

Masicqua’s parents, both drug addicts, had nearly a dozen children with various partners.  They left them all with relatives to raise.  Only Masicqua graduated high school.  And only Masicqua, thanks to Covenant House, is about to go to college so to provide a better life for her little boy.

Read Masiqua’s full New York Times Neediest Cases profile now.

“We Don’t Give Up”

January 30th, 2015
(L-R) Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn, and Valeriya Osipova

(L-R) Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn, and Valeriya Osipova

By Alice Kenny

New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), the not-for-profit operator of the Sandy Unmet Needs Roundtable that provides private disaster-support funding source of last resort, named Catholic Charities NY its Partner of the Year.  It also honored three of our Staten Island disaster case managers, Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn and Valeriya Osipova, for their extraordinary work helping Hurricane Sandy survivors recover.

“We don’t give up,” says Catholic Charities Staten Island Disaster Case Management  Program Manager Amy Silverman, explaining how Catholic Charities earned the awards.

Catholic Charities disaster case managers worked first with federal, state and local government as well as private funding sources to help Hurricane Sandy survivors.  But nearly all of these resources, from FEMA to the Red Cross to insurance carriers, have now completed their work.  The Unmet Needs Roundtables, operated throughout the city by NYDIS, responds to the significant need that remains.

Nursing Home Aid Cherri Puma, for example, needed to quickly restore her Hurricane Sandy destroyed Staten Island home to could care for her wheelchair-bound nonverbal daughter. So she took out loans and put bills on credit to cover the more than $100,000 reconstruction cost.  Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager Jeanne Marshall worked with traditional funding sources to recoup the costs.  When they fell short, she presented Ms. Puma’s case to NYDIS, ultimately scoring the remaining $22,000 Ms. Puma needed to pay her home reconstruction debt and obtain needed furniture and appliances.

“Jeanne will go to bat for her clients and won’t let up until the work is done,” Ms. Silverman says.

She shares this tenacity with fellow “Tenacity Award” honoree Valeriya Osipova.

“Valeriya will fight for her clients until they get what they need,” Ms. Silverman says.

They also share it with Evelyn Wilburn, who was awarded “Top DCM Unmet Needs Roundtable Presenter” for getting NYDIS awards for 20 of her clients. “Evelyn is organized and methodical, going through each case point by point so she is able to present cases regularly, and get them funded.”

In fact, all 91 cases with unmet Sandy recovery needs that were presented by Catholic Charities disaster case managers received awards from NYDIS and dozens more are pending.

“They win by being methodical, tenacious, knowing their cases inside out and getting their clients the help they deserve,” Ms. Silverman says.

By bestowing this award on Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New York, NYDIS was also acknowledging the work of Catholic Charities in directing the New York State Disaster Case Management Program.  This program provides disaster case managers to families in 13 New York State counties who were impacted by Superstorm Sandy.  With 200 case managers in 17 agencies, this program plays an essential partnership role with private funders such as the Unmet Need Roundtables in New York City, Long Island, and the upstate counties.  According to Helene Lauffer, Catholic Charities’ director of the New York State Disaster Case Management Program, “private funders rely upon disaster case managers to prepare, vet, and present cases for consideration at the unmet needs roundtables.  Through this process, and the partnership with NYDIS, disaster case managers have been able to secure funds to bring hundreds, if not thousands of clients back to stability and self-sufficiency.” 

Check out this Facebook photo album shot at the awards ceremony.