Free Dominican Festival & Independence Day Celebration

February 26th, 2015

Rey del Carnaval del BoulevardIvan Dominguez is “maestro” in every way, a distinguished musician and a respected teacher.

And tonight, Thursday, February 26 at 7 p.m., this Maestro and Director of Catholic Charities Alianza La Plaza Beacon will be honored at the Dominican festival of dance and song, the Camerata Washington Heights & Conjunto Folklorico Dominicano, at City College’s Aaron Davis Hall.

Eight of the evening’s performers began studying Dominican dance with Mr. Dominguez as young children at Alianza La Plaza Beacon, a division of Catholic Charities that provides cultural activities, recreation and homework help for neighborhood youth.  Now, after more than a decade training with this “maestro” they have performed up and down the East coast, from Washington DC to Providence, from Boston and tonight to Aaron Davis Hall at the City College of New York.

“It’s important for children in this multicultural country to know about our cultures, to know where we came from so we can understand ourselves and show respect to others,” Mr. Dominguez says.

Catholic Charities along with key elected officials and organizations is sponsoring the evening’s free event in commemoration of Dominican Independence Day.

Don’t Let a Judge’s Temporary Stay Get in Your Way: PREPARE NOW for Immigration Reform

February 25th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

You know the drill; the back and forth on immigration reform.

Don’t let it get in your way.

This time it was a Texas Judge Andrew Hanen’s recent ruling that put a temporary halt on President Obama’s Executive Action on Immigration.

So instead of starting this month, changes in U.S. law to help immigrant parents, children, spouses, skilled workers will not kick off until later this year.

Get ready now!

Don’t be scammed: Do NOT give anyone money to help you in advance with an application!

Check out these flyers in multiple languages to learn what YOU need to know!

 Spanish · French · Korean  · Russian · Hindu

Call Catholic Charities at the New York State New Americans Hotline. That’s 1-800-566-7636

  • For more information,
  • Referral to a nonprofit legal service provider,
  • Community presentations
  • To report schemes and attempts to defraud immigrants

Spider-Man Reaches Out to Boy with Autism

February 23rd, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Spider-Man swung in for his first fantasy appearance in the Forest Hill, Queens home of this fictional boy-turned-insect’s  aunt in 1962.

Now, more than 50 years later, the superhero made his latest appearance last week in the dilapidated East Harlem apartment of Jamel Hunter, a Spider-Man-obsessed boy trapped inside his thoughts by autism.

Spider-Man’s author, Stan Lee, learned about Jamel and his obsession with the comic strip hero from a New York Times Neediest Cases profile written about this eight-year old who receives help from Catholic Charities affiliate Kennedy Child Study Center.

In an effort to reach through the autism, Mr. Lee sketched a personalized comic with a special bubble, “Hi, Jamel,” and had it hand delivered to the young boy in the housing project where he lives.

Read the full New York Times “Crime Scene” story now.

Help a Woman. Volunteer.

February 20th, 2015

Another Volunteer Opportunity that needs Volunteers!

Students at our affiliate that trains women for careers,  Grace Institute, need your support, advice, guidance and inspiration. Make a difference in their lives by participating in our Brag Party!

Brag Party!
Thursday, March 19, 2015
9:00 AM-1:00 PM
New York, NY 10037

If you know someone who would be interested in this event please feel free to forward it on to them!

 

Catholic Charities Joins Protest Against Judge’s Last-Minute Kibosh on Immigration Reform

February 19th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

Immigrants and their supporters are rallying across New York to protest a judge’s Monday night order that stymies President Obama’s executive action to reform immigration policies.

“The ruling by a lower Federal Court in Texas, while disappointing, was neither surprising nor definitive,” said Msgr. Kevin Sullivan before a conference held in Manhattan at noon today.   “Catholic Charities will continue to outreach to the individuals and families who need to prepare for the important opportunities afforded by the President’s executive action and hopefully also for comprehensive immigration reform which remains a pressing need.”

He added his voice to that of elected officials, service providers and the newly arrived and personally affected who are speaking out against U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen’s ruling.

This ruling was particularly painful because it temporarily blocks the President’s  planned expansion of the Defered Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program  just a day before the program was set to go into effect.

It also blocks the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) set to begin in May 2015.

In New York more than 300,000 people qualify for these new programs.

“Catholic Charities focus ,” Msgr. Sullivan added, “is our legal and social services for new Americans, made in God’s image, who merit dignity and respect and the opportunity to provide basic human necessities for themselves and their families.”

40 Days to Change Your World

February 18th, 2015

Lent. Forty days before Easter when, through prayer, sacrifice and helping others, we transform our Christian love into action.

Sounds good but how exactly do we do this?

Now — and throughout the Lenten season — we give you our Lenten Messages of Inspiration.

“There are few guarantees but this one I’m betting on,” says Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan.”Those who do these three Lenten practices – praying more, sacrificing more and helping others more – will find themselves in a better place when Easter comes around.”

Looking for more inspiration?

Throughout the Lenten season, check in with Catholic Charities for updated tips and inspiration.

 

David Carr: Inspired by Catholic Charities; Mourned by the World

February 17th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

At Catholic Charities, we mourn David Carr, the brilliant, irascible New York Times columnist who dropped dead at his desk at The New York Times last week from lung cancer.

From his memoir, Night of the Gun, many of us know the story of this powerful writer and his metamorphosis from cokehead to media guru.

But few know that he scored his initial inspiration and first story after learning from his dad about a Catholic Charities staff member beaten for standing up for men being bullied.

 I was at my parents’ house one day in 1982 when my dad told me about his pal Peter, a guy who ran Catholic Charities. He watched as a couple of beefy cops pounded two black suspects already in custody. Peter stepped toward them to ask why they were beating up those guys and got a piece of same. It sounded outrageous.

“Somebody should do a story about this,” I said to my dad. Maybe, my dad said, it should be you.

I called the editor of the Twin Cities Reader. He sounded interested, in a bored, yeah-sure kind of way, committing only to read what I came up with. I pretended I knew what I was doing — isn’t that what most of life rests on? — and fumbled my way through police reports, disciplinary records, and relevant witnesses. With my pal David over my shoulder, I wrote it up. When it came time to deliver, I found myself chattering away in front of Brian, the editor, unable to hand it over.

That’s what we do at Catholic Charities.

We stand up for those who others forget.

And we serve as  inspiration for some  we will always remember.

RIP David Carr.

Pick Up a Basketball, Not a Gun

February 16th, 2015

basketkenn2011mothers 019By Alice Kenny

Put the guns down.
Pick up the ball.
And let’s recreate.

That’s the plea for the third year straight of Harlem Mothers S.A.V.E., an empowered group begun by five broken-hearted Harlem mothers who lost their sons to gun violence.

Their goal is to provide positive alternatives, specifically basketball, to keep teenage boys away from the street’s vices.

To support them, Catholic Charities will once again host a basketball tournament at our Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Center during the mid-winter school recess, starting today, February 16, and ending Friday, February, 20, 2015.  The tournament this year will be offered exclusively to teens detained in local juvenile facilities.

“Together,” they say, “we can silence the violence.”

Catholic Charities Lobbies Albany in the Front Rooms, Face to Face

February 13th, 2015

albanyselfiesBy Alice Kenny

Battling nearly a foot of snow, Catholic Charities New York representatives organized a show of force in Albany on February 9 – 10 to persuade state leaders to expand Governor Cuomo’s proposed plan to combat poverty.

They joined local Catholic Charities affiliated agencies along with the New York State Council of Catholic Charities Directors that represent all eight dioceses across the state.

The troops maximized their strength on these two frigid days by meeting with every human services chair person in both houses of the legislature and with representatives from the governor’s office.

Their goal, to battle back inequality, was overwhelming.  But their plan to fund it was simple.

New York State received more than $5 billion in recent settlements with banks accused of misconduct.  Surely, they reasoned, a significant percentage of this windfall should be earmarked for the one out of five impoverished families in New York State.

Catholic Charities requests included:

  • Amplify the Governor’s proposed program to target investments in capital projects to improve the quality, efficiency, accessibility and reach of nonprofits serving New Yorkers
  • Provide adequate funding for vulnerable populations including foster children served by Medicaid Managed Care
  • Increase funding for post adoption services and child welfare agencies
  • Address soaring rates of homelessness and hunger by increasing funds for supportive housing, homeless prevention services, emergency food and outreach programs
  • Raise the minimum wage and expand the Unemployment Strikeforce to help the unemployed find work
  • Push back recent cutbacks in services for the physically and emotionally challenged by providing significant funds for permanent and supported housing
  • Help undocumented immigrants become taxpaying members of society by enabling them to apply for state college tuition and education tax credits; expand the Office of New American Opportunity Centers that provide immigrant services and increase funds to help unaccompanied minor children seeking to reunify with family members.

“Thank you for assisting all of us to give voice to the needs of those who are poor and most vulnerable,” Catholic Charities Diocese of Buffalo Director Sr. Mary McCarrick said to Luz Tavarez-Salazar, Catholic Charities NY’s Director of Government and Community Relations who helped organize the event.  “Now we pray those voices will be heard by our New York State government.”

Check out these event photos on FaceBook.

New York City’s Municipal ID Is a Good for New Yorkers and Good for the City

February 12th, 2015

The premier Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario, turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services C. Mario Russell for regular updates on immigration reform. 

By C. Mario Russell

The week before last, New York City joined with the growing number of cities and communities–like Hartford, Connecticut, San Francisco, California, and, as just announced this week in Newark, New Jersey —a plan that will explore offering all their citizens, residents, and members a municipal identity card. This is something to celebrate as good for city residents and good for our city.

There are about 500,000 undocumented mothers, fathers, and children who live, work, and go to school in New York City. Each day they seek the basics: steady employment, a stable family, hope for the future, and security. For the most part they are unseen and unheard. But, like silent generations of immigrants before them, each day they bring new life to this city whose economic and cultural achievements we take such pride in. Each day they contribute to its magnificent legacy.

The new ID will give these New Yorkers a chance to run their day-to-day lives a little more easily. This is good for everyone. With these IDs people will be able to cash checks, open a bank or credit account, sign a lease, and enter public buildings. Parents will be able to access public schools for parent-teacher conferences. They won’t have to worry about being turned away from visiting their child in a hospital. These are not extravagant rights for the undocumented. Moreover, these municipal IDs make work easier for everyone else including teachers, merchants, and professionals.

One of the most important life-improvements that comes with the ID is legal identification in case of a law enforcement stop, such as an arrest.  When someone is questioned by the police, an officer will often ask to know who the person is. The card makes it easier for that identity check to happen in real-time and the encounter terminates there. Again, not an extravagant right, but it makes work easier for the police and protects people.

As was said by one long-time undocumented resident, “I’m basically invisible in this city without proper identification. My husband and I work hard every day; we have children and the security that something as simple as an ID card will give us cannot be overstated.” This is not an extravagant request; just a basic wish we all share and will benefit from.

Read this recent post in Spanish in “El Diario” now.

 

C. Mario Russell is Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane, NY, NY 10038. He teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.