Time Will Prove the President’s Action to Be True

December 26th, 2014

Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services C. Mario Russell writes a regular column in El Diario to update readers on the latest news on immigration reform.  Read his latest article below.

Critics of President Obama’s plan to designate some 5 million undocumented parents and children as temporarily non-deportable say that it is illegal, without precedent, and unwise. They are wrong.

To begin, a coalition of 17 U.S. states, led by the Texas Attorney General, sued the Obama administration in Federal Court last Wednesday saying the President’s plan is illegal. They allege it violates constitutional limits on executive law enforcement powers. But they say this while at the same time criticizing Mr. Obama for failing to use his executive powers to expel even more than the 2 million immigrants he already has deported. Strange, but when not penning the lawsuit over executive power, the administration’s critics beg him to use more of his power to deport people.

So the critics answer that this kind of exercise of power is unprecedented; it has not been used before. Again, they ignore that two presidents before him, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, used their constitutional law enforcement power to protect from deportation families that had been left out of a Congressional legalization plan.  By some estimates, this protected from deportation 1.5 million undocumented mothers, fathers, and spouses.

The critics’ rebuttal then turns into complaint about scale. Well, they say, what Reagan and Bush did before was on a much smaller scale than Mr. Obama’s plan. 1.5 million is a few people; 5 million is just too many!

This gets us to the heart of the problem. Yes, 5 million mothers, fathers, and youngsters who each day live with the threat of separation from their children or parents is just too many. In fact, I would suggest that 11 million people who live—for almost a generation now—in fear, anxiety, and with no opportunity to become full members of our human community is just too many. So critics themselves point to the humanitarian problem, and a humanitarian problem must be answered by law.

Time makes a difference in law.  Time allows for property rights, intellectual rights, and even rights in equity to grow. When people have been allowed to settle in a place for a long time they should be given a chance to get right with the law if they are not a threat to society. Those who argue the opposite force themselves to ignore what it means to lose the human goods they enjoy and build each day: love of family, community, church, work.

And the passage of time makes a difference in how we understand history: as the writer Robert Caro notes, “Time equals truth.” Over time America has overcome its fears of ethnic and national minorities. The nation’s inclusion of immigrants over time has proven to be the deepest truth of its identity: open, changing, new, hopeful.

This is a good and it is wise for us to pursue.

Read the full El Diario post in Spanish now.

Merry Christmas from Catholic Charities

December 25th, 2014


Help New Yorkers In Need Stay Warm This Christmas

December 24th, 2014

warmcoatpostA warm coat isn’t too much to ask for this Christmas.

When hard-working people fall on hard times, Catholic Charities is there.

The Rivera family lost almost everything when the economic climate caused their day care business to shut down. As winter approaches, families like the Riveras are facing a tough climate of another kind. Last year, our St. Nicholas Project provided warm coats, hats, sweaters and blankets to nearly 4,000 people. Every year, because of caring people like you, the St. Nicholas Project is able to provide winter necessities to those in need.

This Christmas, you can help by donating $65 to help one individual, or $260 to help a family of four.

Coats & Toys for Children in Need

December 23rd, 2014


Impoverished children and their families will be warmer and happier this holiday season thanks to Catholic Charities’ Christmas Spirit Toy and Coat Drive partnership with Empire City Casino at Yonkers Raceway President and CEO Timothy J. Rooney.  Now in its eighth year, the drive was the most successful on record, collecting and distributing hundreds of coats and more than 600 toys to those in need.

“There are no greater deeds than charity and service,” Mr. Rooney said

Empire City patrons donated the toys and gifts that Mr. Rooney presented to Msgr. Sullivan last week at the Empire City Yonkers location.

Joining Mr. Rooney and Monsignor Sullivan were Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Mayor Mike Spano, City Council Member Corazon Pineda from the City of Yonkers, and Assembly member Shelley Mayer.

Sister Christine Hennessy of Catholic Charities Community Services and Órla Kelleher, Executive Director of the Aisling Irish Community Center were also on present and will ensure the toys and coats get into the hands of families most in need.

The group heralded the generosity of Josh Blake, President of California-based family-owned company, Jams, who for the past three consecutive years delivered some West Coast warmth to New York families with his donation of 500 toys.

John Lennon, owner of Yonkers-based Smart Move & Storage, also generously donated services to transport and store of all donations while they are distributed by local community organizations.

Empire City Casino has a long history of working with Catholic Charities to help New Yorkers in need, non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

Christmas Hope for the Mentally Ill

December 22nd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Decked in Santa caps, plates brimming with food and Christmas carols ringing in the background, mentally ill adults served by Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope Division celebrated the holiday season last week at the annual Beacon of Hope Holiday Party at the Epiphany Parish Hall on East 21st Street.

Some spoke and danced, some rocked and observed and nearly all chuckled as Cardinal Dolan showed off his Irish step-dance moves.

Beacon of Hope staff joined with Catholic Charities board members and volunteers from the national consulting firm, Deloitte, to celebrate the event. The Beacon of Hope Division of Catholic Charities Community Services is a residential program for approximately 436 individuals at 10 sites primarily in the Bronx, and on Staten Island.  Those served are seriously and persistently mentally ill adults; the program strives to enable them to live as independently as possible in their community.

“Beacon of Hope… taught me everything I need to know to basically live … on my own,” says Angela in this holiday video of the event.

Looking for a great way to kick off the holiday?

Watch this video now.

Volunteers Rally to Shop for Those in Need

December 19th, 2014



Over 500 volunteers teamed with Catholic Charities’ Junior Board and staff to purchase over $100,000 worth of basic necessities for more than 3,000 needy New Yorkers at K-mart in lower Manhattan during the agency’s annual St. Nicholas Project Shopping Day.

Cheered by Christmas music sung from store speakers, volunteer shoppers checked personalized lists to fill their carts with winter items including coats, hats, gloves, scarves, sweaters, pajamas and blankets to stay warm.

“Today is one of the most joyful of the Catholic Charities activities of the year,” Msgr. Sullivan said.

The St. Nicholas Project, supported by donations and volunteers from Catholic Charities, provides individuals and families in need with gifts of necessity including winter clothing and household supplies.  This support continues throughout the year thanks to Catholic Charities caseworkers who aid the same individuals through job training and classes, immigration assistance, food from Catholic Charities’ many food pantries and support for children, adults, the elderly and those with special needs.

Looking for friends, family and fellow volunteers?

Check out this Facebook photo album.

URGENT – Your Help Is Needed This Christmas

December 18th, 2014

dolan-shoppingdayWe’re shopping now for those in need. Will you help this Christmas ?

Every year, Catholic Charities sponsors the St. Nicholas Project – providing warm coats, hats, sweaters and blankets for children and families in need. Our volunteers are out there shopping now – and we need your help.

Your donation of $65 helps us shop for one child – $260 will help a family of four. So many are experiencing economic hardship this year. We’re counting on you to make a difference.

This Christmas, please help us keep children warm.

Celebrate Christmas Now

December 17th, 2014

christmas volunteerLooking for a great way to kick off the Christmas season? Check out these volunteer opportunities. They extend from the Lower East Side all the way up to Yonkers and include helping with holiday parties, wrapping gifts and painting faces. Find the holiday volunteer opportunity tailored just for you.


Christmas Party Volunteers  
Learn More
Friday, Dec 19th 5-8:00 PM
(South) Bronx, NY 10454

Carolers for Christmas Party 
Learn More
Friday, Dec 19th 5-8:00 PM
(South) Bronx, NY 10454

Wrapping Gifts
Learn More
Tuesday, Dec 23 various times
East Harlem

Three Kings Day Party
Learn More
Sunday, Jan 4
Yonkers, NY
Annual Children’s Party
Learn More
Sunday Jan 11, 2:30 pm
Lower East Side, NYC 10009
Balloon Artist/Face Painter
Learn More
Sunday, Jan 11th, 2:30-6 PM
Lower East Side, NYC 10009

For Young & Rubicam Volunteers: Four Days, Four Catholic Charities Programs & a Big Difference Made

December 16th, 2014

In a single week last month 31 volunteers from Young & Rubicam spent 146 hours over four days in four different locations to help Catholic Charities and our affiliated agencies improve the lives and environments of those we serve.

At Incarnation Center on Audubon Avenue in Washington Heights, at Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry on the Lower East Side, at Catholic Guardian Services on Grand Concourse  in the Bronx and at our own building at 1011 First Avenue in Midtown East, the Young & Rubicam volunteers showed their spirited enthusiasm to help in diverse tasks and locations throughout the city.

Would you like to volunteer?

Join us now during the holiday season and throughout the year.

Find a volunteer opportunity just right for you.

Stoking Her Children’s Creative Fires, and Struggling to Stay Warm

December 15th, 2014

photo 4Natasha Mohammed pulled from the oven in her West Harlem home a piping tray of cakes baked with oatmeal and coconut from her own recipe. The youngest of her seven children, Jahanna, 15, costumed in her mother’s old polka-dot dress, walked a plate of the cakes into the living room, where they were set upon by her sisters, Leah, 17, and Hannah, 19.

In addition to love, food and plans for the future, the family now has another essential — heat.

Last winter, Ms. Mohammed struggled to pay her heating bill. At times, she fought the chill with two electric heaters and her oven.

“I had to prioritize what bills to pay,” Ms. Mohammed, 52, said. “We were cold, we were extremely cold.”

Ms. Mohammed sought out Catholic Big Brothers and Big Sisters (an affiliate of Catholic Charities) to pair her three youngest daughters with mentors because their fathers were largely absent.

When a caseworker learned of Ms. Mohammed’s struggle to heat her home, she secured $270 from the fund to pay the electric bills.

With her unpaid bills taken care of,she can now focus solely on her children. And on new recipes, which she hopes will lead to another job.

“Going forward it’s about my kids,” she said. “Making sure they live up to their potential and their opportunities.”

Read the full New York Times story now.

Help us help our fellow New Yorkers.