Posts Tagged ‘Alianza’

Haircuts, Pizza and Socks: Back-to-School Basics for These Bronx Boys

Wednesday, September 10th, 2014

haircutBy Alice Kenny

Led by Catholic Charities staff, boys from the low-income Highbridge Gardens neighborhood in the Bronx crossed the East River, hiking over the Madison Avenue bridge that separates them by income, race and expectations from affluent Manhattan.

Their back-to-school adventure included free haircuts — high tops, Mohawks and zigzag parts, whatever they wanted — at the All Star Barbershop in Washington Heights.  It also included pizza and ice cream, t-shirts and socks and tips from barbers who remember what it’s like to struggle.

For many of their Manhattan peers, this may seem like only the basics for expensive back-to-school prep that extends to designer clothing, tutors and college-planning consultants.  But for these Bronx boys, ages 10-18 who mostly hail from single-parent families in a local housing project, it was essential.

The day’s adventure was one of many children participating in Catholic Charities Highbridge Gardens Cornerstone Alianza Division took part in during its free, seven-day-per week summer program. Catholic Charities Alianza Division provides a variety of services for youth ages 5 to 21 years old, promoting a world view that extends far beyond the streets where they live.

Struggling Students Score Scholarships that May Change Their Lives

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Senior Awards Dinner 6-12-14By Alice Kenny

Three students from Washington Heights where the per-capita income is half that of the rest of New York City received a surprise at their Senior Awards Dinner last Thursday, June 12, that may well change their lives.

The students, former participants in Catholic Charities Alianza division GPS program, short for Graduate, Prepare, Succeed, were each handed $20,000 Presidential Scholarships to attend City College in the fall ’14. As the scholarships show, the GPS program designed to provide key support to promote higher education for low income teens clearly succeeded.

Guillermo Rivera, admissions counselor at City College, gave the awards to High School for Media and Communications Seniors Katherine Burgos, Nestor Ramos, and Jordi Caceres, praising them for their resiliency and perseverance.

“The night was filled with pride, joy, and a lot of excitement,” said Catholic Charities Alianza GPS Program Director Pierina De La Cruz. “And the night could not have ended on a better note!”

Volunteers Put Down Their Frying Pans and Had a Feast

Monday, May 6th, 2013

On the very last, most beautiful day of April 2013, 143 tireless workers put down their frying pans, serving trays, aprons, and hand trucks to feast and be celebrated.  From the farthest corners of the Bronx to the Lower East Side, volunteers from food pantries and soup kitchens  supported by Catholic Charities Community  Services gathered at the Triangle Building of Alianza for the first-ever Volunteer Appreciation Event held in their honor.

The same men and women who, earlier that day, were packing 200 bags of food or scrubbing pots, got the chance to sit down to a catered meal while CCCS staff called out name after name of volunteer chefs, food packers, inventory specialists, and data base managers.  In all, 46 program coordinators and long-time volunteers from 14 different programs came up to the podium to receive certificates from Monsignor Kevin Sullivan.  Honors were given for years of service ranging from 20 to 36 years, and for those special volunteers who worked “Above and Beyond”, as their certificates stated.   These included senior Maria Sanchez, founder of St. Anthony’s Soup Kitchen in the Bronx, who has been leading the program for 20 years, and young Walter Martin, who uses his free time in between job interviews to work for no less than 4 different pantries.

“We’ve been wanting to do this for so long” said Jeanne McGettigan, Director of Emergency Food Services.  “Monsignor Sullivan and Staci-Jo Bruce, Director of Volunteer Services were the ones who finally made it happen.  It was so moving to see all of these generous, hard-working people gathered together in one place.  We really are one big team, but we don’t often get to see ourselves that way.”

Ms. McGettigan said the event organizers were particularly pleased that CCCS staff was able to make these activities completely bi-lingual.  Well over 50% of the volunteers in attendance consider Spanish their first language.  To make sure that all felt included, everything from invitations, to program cards and presentations by speakers was carried out in Spanish and English.  Project Manager Lizaura German emceed and translated as needed.  Monsignor Sullivan and Beatriz Diaz Taveras, Executive Director of CCCS traveled comfortably between languages as they thanked the volunteers for their steadfast efforts to beat back hunger in their communities.

Also delivering a rousing speech in two languages was special guest Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez of Washington Heights and Inwood.  Remembering how, during his childhood, his own family had sometimes needed food assistance, he told the volunteers that he “didn’t think twice” about dedicating Council discretionary funds to the busy CCCS pantry nearby his office.

An additional service award was presented to Christopher Melito of Credit Suisse, recognizing the company’s Day of Service, which brought 20 corporate employees to a CCCS food pantry for the day to prepare and demonstrate healthy cooking methods and give pantry customers the equipment to carry out the same practices in their own kitchens.

The feeling in the room was so joyful, and the cumulative effect of hearing story after story of faith in action was so moving, a number of staff and volunteers  stated their conviction that this first-ever event should now be considered an annual gathering not to be missed.

Looking for free staff plus a chance to help teens this summer? Sign me up.

Monday, April 29th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Looking for free staffing plus a chance to help teens this summer?
Check out Catholic Charities Community Services/Alianza Division’s Summer Youth Employment Program. We are looking for organizations and agencies to partner with us to provide young people with a worksite and great work experience.

What’s in it for you?
All told, we plan to train and place more than 900 teens and young adults, ages 14 — 24, at worksites throughout New York City from July 8th until August 17th. And this is all at no cost to you.

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provides New York City teens and young adults with summer employment and educational experiences that capitalize on individual strengths, develop skills, and connect youth to positive adult role models.

SYEP provides six weeks of entry-level jobs at community-based organizations, government agencies and private sector businesses. In past years these have included hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, law firms, museums, sports enterprises and retail organizations.

What’s in it for youth?

The Summer Youth Employment Program is designed to:

  •  Emphasize real-world labor expectations
  •  Increase awareness of services offered by local community-based organizations
  •  Provide opportunities for career instruction, financial literacy training, academic improvement, and social growth

CCCS works in collaboration with the Department of Youth and Community Development and pays participants the minimum wage pay rate of $7.25.

Don’t worry. We provide the salary; you provide the site.

How about some details?

As an SYEP worksite, you agree to:

  • Provide productive and meaningful work assignments
  • Provide training and supervision
  • Communicate regularly with the community-based organization that placed participants to ensure accurate compensation for hours worked
  • Evaluate your participants and provide adequate feedback and mentoring
  • You can choose Group 1: Youth ages 14-15 or Group 2: Youth ages 16-24.
    • The younger group works 15 work hours plus 5 educational hours per week. (No worries: We provide the educational hours.)
    • Group 2 can work 25 hours a week.

Sounds great. How do I sign up?

Click here to learn more and become a worksite.

Click here to learn more.

Congratulations Alianza Class of 2013. You Did It!

Monday, February 4th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan served as keynote speaker at the mid-year graduation of 15 students who received full academic Regents diplomas on January 31, 2013 at Innovation Diploma Plus (IDP.)  This small school devoted to second chances helps teenagers who dropped out of high school, then returned and struggled to receive full academic diplomas.

“I basically grew up here in this school,” said graduate Carlos Guilbe.  “I wouldn’t have done it if it weren’t for the students and staff of IDP and Alianza LTW that motivated me to make it.”

The program’s classrooms, pairing small class size with technological innovations, sit on the top floor of the Louis K. Brandeis campus on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.

“We’ve been  working with these young people for the past two years to make sure they pass and finally graduate from high school and personally, professionally and academically get their lives on track,” says Eddie Silverio, Alianza’s director of youth programs.  “To see them get their diplomas is a beautiful experience.”

Catholic Charities’ Alianza Division partners with youth, families and public and private institutions to revitalize economically distressed neighborhoods.  Its mission is to help children, youth and families break the cycle of poverty and fulfill their potential as members of the global community.

“We are filled with excitement seeing how each one of our young adults has accomplished a great milestone, high school graduation,” said Alianza LTW Director Daiana Castillo.” “Congratualtions Class of 2013!  You did it!”

More News from Alianza

Alianza has been able to multiply opportunities it provides the children it serves.  Thanks to coordination with Catholic Charities CYO programs, Alianza’s Young Men Initiative program brought 11 teens to the Fordham vs. University of Rhode Island basketball game held last month on the Fordham campus.

The trip proved so popular that it is now slated to be the first of many trips to the university campus.

“Our students didn’t realize that there was a school that big and beautiful in the Bronx,” Mr. Silverio added.  “Our trip gave them another incentive to work hard and keep their grades up so that they can go to a school like Fordham.”