Posts Tagged ‘East Harlem’

Isolated by Speaking only an Indigenous Language

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Today marks another in our Summer Agency Series.  The series spotlights some of the 90 agencies in our Catholic Charities federation that, day in and day out, provide help and create hope for New Yorkers in need.

Today, let’s take a look at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service and a recent story written about this Catholic Charities affiliate in The New York Times.

Laura is a Mexican immigrant who lives in East Harlem, a neighborhood with one of the largest Latino populations in New York City, reports Kirk Semple in this recent New York Times article. Yet she understands so little of what others are saying around her that she might just as well be living in Siberia.

Laura, 27, speaks Mixtec, a language indigenous to Mexico. But she knows little Spanish and no English. She is so scared of getting lost on the subway and not being able to find her way home that she tends to spend her days within walking distance of her apartment.

After arriving in New York, most indigenous Latin Americans will learn Spanish before they learn English — if they ever learn English at all. The need has driven demand for Spanish language classes around the city. About a decade ago, the staff at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, an organization in East Harlem that provides services to the poor, noticed that an increasing number of the students enrolling in its English as a second language classes were not only indigenous language speakers from Latin America but were also illiterate.

Reasoning that it would be easier to teach the newcomers Spanish, which they were beginning to pick up at home and on the street, the organization turned the English classes into Spanish classes.

Beyond the critical language and literacy instruction the classes provided, they also helped the newcomers build “a much-needed social support network,” said Rosemary Siciliano, head of communications for Little Sisters of the Assumption. In 2012, however, the organization had to cut the program because of budget shortfalls.

Little Sisters of the Assumption nurses, social workers and aides began working intensively in East Harlem in 1958 and incorporated Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, Inc. ten years later.  This neighborhood-based nonprofit organization delivers a holistic model of human services to the underserved, marginalized and poorest families in East Harlem through a variety of means.  These include home visits, onsite services and support groups to help people achieve the wellness and strength they need to thrive.

 

Find out more about Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service

Read the full story in The New York Times.

Catholic Charities Marches with Puerto Rican Day Parade

Monday, June 9th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Cheered by NYC Hispanic Society Sanitation Department members seated atop a sanitation truck, serenaded by DJs blasting salsa music and wedged between Goya and Coca-Cola floats, Catholic Charities joined the National Puerto Rican Day Parade on June 8, 2014 to celebrate Puerto Rican pride, drum up support to feed our hungry neighbors and promote the vast array of services we provide those in need.

As hundreds of thousands of marchers and onlookers packed Manhattan’s 5th Avenue, Catholic Charities staff distributed prayer cards, fans and memorabilia complete with Catholic Charities phone numbers to draw attention to the growing hunger crisis and let New Yorkers know how to contact us for help.

Like the Puerto Rican community, Catholic Charities is part of the fabric of New York City.  For more than 100 years, Catholic Charities has helped solve the problems of New Yorkers in need, non-Catholics and Catholics alike.  The neglected child, the homeless family and the hungry senior among those who rely on us for help.

But with poverty up and food stamps (now called S.N.A.P.) down due to recent federal cuts, lines are growing at Catholic Charities food pantries across the archdiocese.   Hunger has exploded throughout New York; one out of nearly every two children in the largely Hispanic community of East Harlem lives in poverty.

Our Feeding Our Neighbors Campaign is fighting back with a goal of raising enough funds to provide one million meals for the hungry.  The Goya Corporation made a significant dent in this goal, splitting a donation of 5,000 pounds of rice, beans and specialty foods between Catholic Charities St. Cecilia’s food pantry in East Harlem and a food pantry run by Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

Find your friends in our Puerto Rican Day Parade slide show.

Join us in feeding our neighbors.

Do you need help?

Call

  • Our Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900
  • Our New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS)

Find out more here.

Hungry New Yorkers Get 5,000 Pounds of Food

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

By Alice Kenny
Marta6.3Yesterday was the moment Martinez Benitez had been praying for.  For nearly two decades, this 94-year-old woman has volunteered at Catholic Charities’ St. Cecelia’s food pantry in Central Harlem.  She has watched as lines crowded with hungry children, mothers, and grandfathers with walkers stretched longer each year.  And yesterday, Goya Foods, the largest Hispanic-owned food company in the United States, pulled up a truck filled with 5,000 pounds of food donations.

Catholic Charities and Goya staff along with volunteers such as tiny Ms. Benitez rolled up their sleeves on this 80-degree day and unloaded boxes packed with rice, beans and vegetables.  The donations were split between the food pantries at St. Cecelia’s and at Little Sisters of the Assumption Family Health Service, an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

Goya’s donation marked the kickoff for this weekend’s National Puerto Rican Day Parade and food drive.  The massive gift, enough to feed 4,000 families, will benefit Catholic Charities Feeding Our Neighbors campaign that supports a vast network of food pantries and emergency food programs.  Since the November cuts in the food stamp program (now called S.N.A.P.) hunger is more of a crises than ever in East Harlem where nearly one out of every two children – 37,250 residents in all – live in poverty.

“This will mean that hundreds of families will not go to bed hungry at night,” Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Sullivan said as he hugged Ms. Benitez, then unloaded another box of brown rice.

From Super Heroes to Liturgical Dance

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Looking for Super Heroes Movement classes, African Drum instruction or just good old ballet lessons?  Check out Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Center’s new Project Performing Arts dance programs for children.

Administered by Nina Klivert-Lawson, this former performing arts director worked for 26 years at The Harbor, a well-known community organization in East Harlem.  She and her instructors collaborate with Catholic Charities and the Archdiocese Office of Black Ministry to provide classes to youth registered as members of the center.

Volunteer instructors screened by Catholic Charities’ volunteer division provide skilled instruction each Saturday at Kennedy Center.  Not surprisingly, the various dance classes – that also include drama as well as modern, liturgical, jazz and African dance – have often attracted over 70 participants ages 4 years to 18.

These new classes bring added life to this already active center. They also broaden the center’s reach to middle-school-aged children and their parents, linking them to the numerous social and social service programs offered there.   Perhaps most important, the programs expose neighborhood children to the arts while encouraging life-skill disciplines that help them perform better in school and in life.

 

Parish Spotlight: St. Cecilia’s in East Harlem

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

By Marianna Reilly

November 10, 2011 — If you have ever paid a visit to St. Cecilia’s Parish in East Harlem, you know that it is not your typical national landmark. Far from being merely architecturally astounding, it is one of the most beautiful examples of Catholic service in our community. For more than a century, the parish has been dedicated to helping our neighbors in need in New York.

St. Cecilia's Parish

St. Cecilia's Parish in New York is a National Historic Landmark and an example of Catholic charity in East Harlem. View photos of volunteers helping out at St. Cecilia's food pantry on Facebook.

Originally the church of the Irish community in New York when it was established in 1883, St. Cecilia currently ministers to a diverse parish community from all parts of the world, including Italy, Jamaica, Philippines, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Africa, Germany and Ireland.

Parish community services include a food pantry, Narcotics Anonymous, Justicia en el Barrio, HIV Momentum Project, and more. The Parish Service Center, established in 1972 and funded by Catholic Charities New York, provides counseling, responds to health problems, and assists with family crises. At this service-driven church, the needs of the people of East Harlem are handled with compassion and respect.

A Day Nursery, which cares for the children of working mothers, is still run by the Sisters of Atonement, who first established the program at St. Cecilia’s in 1927, and a summer program, operated in partnership with Catholic Charities and the East Harlem Community Corporation, provides recreational, cultural and religious enrichment opportunities for local youth.

Recently, Catholic Charities was awarded $10,000 by the RealNetworks Foundation to support services at St. Cecilia’s, specifically emergency food and emergency relief services.

Fathers Stevens, Holland, Smith and Brinkmann serve as the current chaplains of nearby Mt. Sinai Hospital, Fifth Avenue Hospital and The Flower Free Surgical Hospital.

Members of the St. Cecilia’s parish community, together with those from Our Lady Queen of Angels, under Father Raymond Hand, O.F.M., Cap., also sponsor a narcotics treatment center called “Enter.” The program offers a soup kitchen, beds, a detoxification program and therapy to all who come for help. Constant clothing and food drives run through both parishes help support of this vast undertaking.

Are you a member of St. Cecilia’s parish and volunteer in one of their ministries? Share your experience with us.

Tell us: Which parish in the New York Archdiocese should we highlight next?