Posts Tagged ‘government agencies’

Catholic Charities Joins Forces with Fellow Faith Leaders to Fight Poverty

Friday, May 16th, 2014
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Joshua Scott – FPWA Images

“For the first time, three religious charity umbrella groups in New York are joining forces to study government policies and programs designed to help people living in poverty in the hopes of finding better solutions to the problem and helping really change lives,” reports Theresa Agovino in Crain’s New York yesterday May 15, 2014.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, and the UJA Federation of New York have worked on jointly providing services over the years, but their latest endeavor is taking a new turn. Two months ago, the trio tapped the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based social and economic and policy research group, to review various government poverty programs, with an emphasis on city programs, to learn more about what is effective. They paid $125,000 for the study and hope to have results in two months. The executive said that it was still too soon to say how they would use the results of the study because they aren’t sure what it will uncover.

Together the groups have a network of more than 400 nonprofits that offer a wide range of services including providing food, housing and job training to a total of nearly six million people. Many of those nonprofits receive city funding and work with government agencies on various programs.

‘We may have different theologies, but we each share the tradition of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and housing the homeless,’ said John Ruskay, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the UJA.

Despite all of the good works these groups and others provide, poverty in the city remains stubbornly high. The poverty rate in New York City was essentially unchanged at 21% from 2010 to 2012, but that’s up from 19% in 2008, according to the New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity, which works to fight poverty.

‘We want to see how we can change the outcomes,’ said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. ‘Maybe certain programs need to be scaled up or offered together. How can we do better?’

Jennifer Jones Austin, chief executive officer and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, said she heard about a similar study being conducted in Wisconsin and thought it would be a good idea to create one for the city to help inform public policy. She opted to reach out to her counterparts to amplify her voice.

‘We are all distinguished and respected in our own rights,’ said Ms. Jones Austin, who served as co-chair of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team along with Carl Weisbrod. ‘I believe that with the three of us people will be really listening at city hall.’

It is unacceptable in our wealthy city and nation that one out of five New Yorkers now lives below the poverty line, scrambling to feed and house their hungry children.

“Poverty and its effects afflicts too many of our neighbors in New York,” Msgr. Sullivan said as he discussed this interfaith initiative.

“I look forward to reporting back to you on the Urban Institute’s findings. This study will hopefully serve to enhance our work and our impact on those most in need.”

Follow us here on Facebook and Twitter to stay abreast of the latest findings.

Read the full story here in Crain’s New York.

As Sandy Recovery Stalls, Wall Street Journal Interviews Msgr. Sullivan for Solutions

Monday, April 21st, 2014

By Alice Kenny

_DSC1063In the Wall Street Journal’s recent series uncovering shortcomings in New York City’s Sandy recovery programs, Reporter Michael Howard Saul turned to Msgr. Kevin Sullivan for insight. Frustrated Hurricane Sandy storm victims and elected officials, Mr. Saul reports, say City Hall has been heavy on promises and short on results.

“Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, which is helping storm victims, said homeowners’ recovery efforts ‘have been made even more challenging by layers of red tape brought on by the multiple layers of government agencies involved in the process.'”

To counter this morass, Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Wall Street Journal that his recently appointed administration has been working “day and night to hack through the red tape.”

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities continues to help Sandy victims recover.  From the time Hurricane Sandy pounded New York, Catholic Charities has been providing disaster relief to those who need it. From disaster response professionals visiting parishes to deliver information and resources, to volunteers collecting and distributing food and supplies, to neighbors checking in on neighbors, the entire Catholic Charities community has responded to meet the human needs of the victims, providing help and creating hope for rebuilding lives.

The New York State Disaster Case Management Program run by Catholic Charities has provided information, referral and disaster case management to nearly 22,000 households.

“Families and homeowners who are rebuilding from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy are still facing a complex and long-term recovery,” Msgr. Sullivan said.  “Our long-term case management for these families is critical to navigating some of the unintended consequences that arise such as potentially higher tax bills on their property that they did not anticipate.”

Are you struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy?

Catholic Charities Links Agency Leaders with Newly Appointed City Officials

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities and fellow social service organizations hosted a reception at the Human Services Council on East 59th Street. on Wednesday, March 5th, to welcome newly appointed New York City officials, introduce them to leaders of our affiliated agencies and provide a ground-floor opportunity to share our experiences and priorities serving New Yorkers in need.

Formal and informal discussions focused on establishing strong collaborative relationships between the human services and government agencies to effectively tackle the issues of poverty, illness and barriers to success.

New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, Deputy Mayor for Policy Initiatives Richard Buery and Director of the Office of Operations Mindy Tarlow were some of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s frontline team who spoke with dozens of directors and staff from agencies affiliated with Catholic Charities.

Several other New York City nonprofit leaders including the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, UJA Federation of New York, United Neighborhood Houses, Human Services Council and the United Way helped host and participated in this groundbreaking event.

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.

Hurricane Destroyed Home; Finally Someone “Has Her Back”

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Erin Smith spends her nights at a relative’s house and her days repairing her hurricane–torn home in South Beach.

She said that dealing with different government agencies after the storm was a daunting task.

“It was so overwhelming it made you want to throw in the towel,” Smith says as she walks from gutted to freshly painted rooms in her bungalow during a recent interview aired on NY1.

Catholic Charities announced last week that $38.5 million in federal funding has been allocated to its disaster recovery program with the help of Governor Cuomo. The program is modeled after a similar one run by Catholic Charities in 34 counties across New York State following Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.

The Sandy recovery program will provide more caseworkers who can help local residents on Staten Island and throughout the city tackle a variety of tasks to cope with the hurricane’s consequences.

Eligibility is open to anyone with an unmet need that arose from or was exacerbated by Superstorm Sandy, even those who have not applied to FEMA for assistance.

Two months ago, Smith was referred to Catholic Charities caseworker MaryEllen Ferrera.  The agency has about a dozen caseworkers on Staten Island who provide free assistance to homeowners hurt by Hurricane Sandy. Funds are allocated to the agency through a federal disaster assistance program.

Ferrera helped Smith get supplies and gift cards to rebuild her home. She has also reached out to government agencies on her behalf

“We get to know directors in positions to help and push through applications for our clients,” Ferrera says.

Smith says FEMA denied her applications several times. Ferrera intervened to successfully file an appeal. Finally, Smith received a FEMA grant.

Smith says her caseworker has not only helped her get help, she’s become a mentor and a friend.

It feels that I have somebody that’s going to have my back,” Smith says.

Check out the video on NY1.

 

Looking for help? 

Call 1-855-258-0483

Or visit www.catholiccharitiesny.org.

Electrocuted During Hurricane Sandy, Survivor Struggles to Recover

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Leaning on his black cane, Fujimoto Takashi, 64, struggles to pronounce words that convey the terror he felt the afternoon his basement apartment in Midland Beach, Staten Island, morphed into a whirlpool of chairs, refrigerator, motion and mementos.

Born in Hiroshima four years after the atom bomb was dropped there, Mr. Takashi already knew devastation first hand.  He grew up believing, he said, that if he could make his way to the United States he would find a safe place to thrive.

For a long time, his plan seemed to work.  Mr. Takashi moved to California in 1977.  He developed a career as a photographer.  And he later made his home in Staten Island.

Never did he suspect, he said, that a disaster spurred by nature and not by man would nearly kill him. But when Hurricane Sandy tore through Staten Island, the subsequent flooding inside his basement apartment electrocuted and nearly drowned him.  It destroyed his health, his home and his means of making a living.

“Growing up in Hiroshima I helped other people and felt their pain; now others are feeling my pain,” Mr. Takashi said.  “Catholic Charities gave me the encouragement I needed to not give up.”

Monday, October 29, began like most days, Mr. Takashi said.  He was fixing a camera light plugged into the wall of in his Andrews Street apartment.

Suddenly he noticed water pouring in under his front door.  He grabbed for the camera light plug.

But it was too late.  Electrical currents bore through his right calf.  They shot in one end, out the other and left a hole as their memento.   He suffered a stroke, he recalled, then passed out.

He awoke to the taste of salt water, bouncing on furniture that floated five feet above the floor.  His right arm and leg no longer functioned.

“Help me!” Fuji shouted.

Hurricane winds and neighbors’ panic smothered his screams.  Night came and went. Fifteen hours passed.  Water receded.  His energy waned.

Finally, at 10:30 the following morning, his landlord knocked on his door.

Much of what happened next is blur, he said.  An ambulance rushed him to some hospital – he can’t remember which.  Later he was transferred to Staten Island University Hospital. For 38 days doctors treated burns that covered much of his body and physical and mental repercussions from his stroke.  Finally, he was transferred to Golden Gate Nursing Home where therapists began teaching him how to walk again.

After two months in a hospital and rehabilitation center, he was released to go home.

But everything had changed.  Hurricane Sandy stole much of his memory and mobility.  It destroyed his photographic equipment, stealing his livelihood.  And it tore apart his home, leaving his furniture, clothing – all he owned – rotting and covered with mold.

“When I came back home I had nothing,” Mr. Takashi said.

His landlord gave him a blanket and an air mattress.  But the mattress leaked.

“It was like sleeping on the floor,” Fuji added.

Fortunately, an associate of Fuji’s learned of his plight and called Catholic Charities for help.

Catholic Charities Staten Island has taken a leadership role in partnering with nonprofit organizations to speed services and support to residents of this borough devastated by Hurricane Sandy.  From disaster-response professionals who visit parishes to deliver information and resources, to volunteers who collect and distribute food and supplies, to neighbors checking in on neighbors, the entire Catholic Charities community responded, providing help, creating hope and rebuilding lives.

Since Mr. Takashi’s stroke left him wheelchair bound and confused, Catholic Charities Case Manager Marvin Walker visited him in his home.  Mr. Walker helped Mr. Takashi apply successfully for a variety of grants and subsidies including new furniture from Project Hospitality, appliances from the Staten Island Back to Basics initiative, gift cards to cover necessities from the Siller Foundation, help paying heating bills from the federal Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP), food stamps from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and disaster recovery financial assistance from FEMA.  He helped Mr. Takashi apply for Access-a-Ride, bus rides catered for persons with disabilities.  And he gave Mr. Takashi food from Catholic Charities food pantries along with clothing, pots, pans, utensils and other household necessities.

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities Volunteer Services paired Fuji up with Catholic Charities Anderson Avenue Senior Director Marni Caruso.  She volunteered to drive Mr. Takashi during her personal time to medical appointments and meetings with the numerous government agencies that suddenly play a large role in his life.

Fuji’s road to recovery remains long and difficult.  He has progressed from wheelchair to walker to cane.  Many memories remain hazy.  His finances remain tight.

“I never thought I would have to depend on others,” Fuji says.  “But without Catholic Charities I couldn’t have survived.”