Posts Tagged ‘homeless’

Alicia, a Foster Parent, Shares Her Pain and Gains

Friday, May 30th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Alicia already had three young children when she and her husband decided to open their hearts and home to a foster child.

So they took in a homeless, pregnant teen. But after the baby’s birth, after Alicia and her family had grown to love the teen and her baby as their own, the young girl was allowed to return to her own family.

In a video interview, Alicia shares how she and her family still miss their foster daughter deeply. And they miss the first smiles, the first words and first steps they will never see taken by their foster grandchild.

Taking in a foster child, a child often battered, bruised and cautious around all those who care, is tough. But the special love that foster parents such as Alicia provide can make all the difference in a child’s life.

To thank Alicia and fellow foster parents we are celebrating National Foster Care Month.

There are 11,000 children living in foster care in New York City, more than 400,000 nationwide. They include children abused and alone, adolescents whose lives have gone off track, families breaking apart.

These children, with troubles undeserved facing crises beyond their capacity to understand and control, find help through special foster parents such as Alicia.

All children deserve a loving, safe, and permanent family. Catholic Charities agencies are committed to reuniting children who are in foster care with their biological families whenever it is safe and appropriate. When working with some families proves unsuccessful, efforts are made to secure an appropriate adoptive family so the child can grow up in a stable, secure, and loving environment.

Learn more about becoming a foster parent.

  • Listen as Msgr. Kevin Sullivan speaks with Grace Poppe, Deputy Director of Social Services for Catholic Guardian Services about foster care on JustLove, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio on The Catholic Channel 129.
  • Find out  about Catholic Charities affiliated agencies that, day in and day out, provide critical support for children and families in crisis.
  • Check out Alicia’s story.

As Businesses Flee, Nuns March in to Restore Burned-Out City

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Photographed by Daniel Case

By Alice Kenny

One, sometimes two brick buildings stand lonely sentry amid rubble and rats in block after Newburgh city block.  Once home to the first Edison plant and the first city to be electrified, this Hudson River community an hour north of Manhattan is now distinguished by gangs and drug-infested violence.

Factories shuttered decades ago.  Rioters frustrated by poverty shattered store windows and burned down buildings. Those who could fled with what they had left.

But in 1983 a group of nuns–Sisters Monica McGloin and Margaret Kilpatrick of the Dominican Sisters of Hope, Monica Galligan and Suzanne LaChapele of the Little Sisters of the Assumption and Irene Freely of the Franciscan Sisters of Peace – put on work clothes, pitched their tent with the poor and founded Newburgh Ministries, an affiliate of Catholic Charities.

Theirs is far from a happily-ever-after story.

“The unemployment rate among this largely Hispanic and black young male population sticks stubbornly at nearly 50 percent,” says the Ministry’s Executive Director Colin Jarvis. “The only jobs seem those born of poverty –police, welfare workers and teachers– almost all of whom commute in from somewhere, anywhere other than Newburgh.”

But the sisters and staff are not giving up. They listen to their new neighbors, march with them down dusty streets lined with buildings ready to be condemned and join in restoring their community.

Newburgh Ministries, housed first in a storefront and later in a former sewing machine factory, began small.  There the homeless, the confused and those with nowhere else to go are still welcomed as guests.  They drop by to sip warm coffee, make free phone calls searching for work and receive comfort.  They shop at a thrift store where shirts, slacks and dresses are “sold” for dimes and dollars, prices they can afford to pay with dignity.  And they let their children build castles from blocks in a playroom safe from bullets outside.

The ministry added “Winterhaven,” a shelter so visitors no longer had to huddle over night in abandoned buildings.  And they teamed with St. Mary’s College and doctors from Christ Health Care to offer a free health clinic where no insurance is needed.

“The goal, however, is not to soften the blows of poverty,” says Mr. Jarvis as folks stop by his office to say hi, “but rather to empower people to transform a community.”

So Newburgh Ministries added Project Jumpstart, a language and tutoring program that keeps youngsters from falling through education’s cracks.

And perhaps, most important, they are building micro businesses.

More than a dozen women, all minority and most unable to speak English, sit at a kitchen table on the Ministry’s second floor, weaving glass beads into earrings, necklaces and bracelets.  Their wares are documented, sold at craft fairs and turned into income for these newly minted jewelers.

Now, with help from a volunteer chef, Newburgh Ministry is kicking off “Baked Goods from the Hood” where local men and women will learn to bake, market and run an industry.

“We’re not looking for the government to solve people’s problems,” Mr. Jarvis says.  “People solve people’s problems.”

New Mom Tweets Big News

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

PCC ImagesmallBy Alice Kenny

In just 140 characters, Maria used the hashtag “Mom” to announce this week the huge news that she celebrated her parenting class graduation from Catholic Charities affiliate, Good Counsel Homes,  just in time for the arrival of her baby.

#mom Maria celebrated her @CathCharitiesNY #parenting class graduation just in time for the arrival of her #baby! pic.twitter.com/gfjRwPJkEK

Good Counsel is more than a shelter for homeless, pregnant women.  It is a supportive and loving home where the needs of the women served are met immediately and for the long term.  Programs each mom has access to are provided with the ultimate goal of leaving Good Counsel, affording each mom with the life skills training she needs to never be homeless again.  Programs include budgeting and vocational assistance, nutrition, guidance and, most important for Maria, parenting classes.

Congratulations, Maria, for graduating from Good Counsel’s Parenting Class.

All our best for you and your new baby!

While this is a happy ending, most come to Good Counsel with very tough starts.

Check out live testimonies from women helped by Good Counsel in this new video.

Every day women are abused, neglected, and lacking in maternity care and support. But there is hope: Good Counsel’s door is always open for any pregnant woman in crisis. Since 1985 it has been a home to more than 6,000 mothers and children.

Learn more about Good Counsel Homes.

Catholic New York Editorial: More Feeling Hunger’s Effects

Monday, March 24th, 2014

Msgr. Sullivan at St. Jerome’s food pantry

The numbers are shocking, writes Catholic New York in this recent editorial:

 In just five years, the number of New York City residents who depend on food pantries and soup kitchens has shot up to 1.4 million. That’s 200,000 more than in 2008      and it accounts for one-fifth of the city’s residents

And contrary to popular perception, the vast majority of those battling hunger are not the homeless.

They’re older women, they’re working families, they’re children and they’re veterans.

The appalling statistics: 1 in 5 city children live in food scarce homes; 1 in 6 city adults live in food scarce homes; 11.5 percent of people over 60 don’t have   enough food, an increase of 33 percent since 2008; 64 percent of people relying on the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens are women; 95,000 food recipients are     veterans.

The hunger crisis, and it is indeed a crisis, was spotlighted in lengthy and detailed coverage this week in the New York Daily News, which also pointed out the strains   placed on the charitable agencies, many of them Catholic groups, who run the city’s network of some 1,000 food pantries and soup kitchens.

   Catholic New York

 

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of the Archdiocesan Catholic Charities, told the paper that people are turning to us for emergency help because it’s so hard for them to find jobs, or decent-paying jobs. Many, he added, don’t have enough to pay rent and to eat.

To lend an immediate hand and get personal insight he can share with legislators, Msgr. Sullivan is making the rounds, rolling up his sleeves and helping out at local food pantries affiliated with Catholic Charities.  Last week he volunteered at St. Jerome’s pantry in the Bronx.

“It’s an astounding surge in need,” he said.

Read the full editorial in Catholic New York.

 

Catholic Charities Helps You Prepare as “Polar Vortex” Grips NY

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

As bitter cold bites New York plunging temperatures to their lowest in decades, Catholic Charities joins with the New York City Office of Emergency Management to help keep you and our fellow neighbors warm.

Warning:  Prolonged exposure to extreme cold weather can be deadly.  The National Weather service forecasts wind chills of near -10 degrees and below-freezing temperatures until Thursday.

Vulnerable populations, such as seniors and infants, are most at risk during extreme weather.  So it’s important to check on friends, family and neighbors if you think they need help getting to a warm place.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages everyone to stay indoors as much as possible.  If your home lacks heat, get to a warm, safe place immediately.

To discourage unnecessary trips outdoors, the NYC Department of Aging asks Catholic Charities and fellow operators of senior centers encourage participants to stay home.  None-the-less, some seniors need meals and a warm place to stay.

  • Catholic Charities opened its senior centers in certain locations including Staten Island.
  • We are also providing extra meals to bring home along with cold weather safety tips to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors.
  • Case managers are calling to check on homebound seniors and high-risk clients during the cold weather.

We urge you to join us in checking on neighbors, friends and relatives.

  • If you are concerned about someone on the street who may be homeless and in need of assistance call 311 and ask for the Mobile Outreach Response Team. The Department of Homeless Services will send an outreach team to the location to assess the individual’s condition and take appropriate action.
  • If your building is cold, check on your neighbors. If you know someone who is vulnerable and lacking heat, help them get to warm places and notify the building manager and/or call 311 to get heat restored. If you see someone with signs of hypothermia such as confusion, shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness call 911 for help and help the person get warm while waiting for help.
  • Landlords and building managers should check their building systems to ensure heat, and check on vulnerable people

Health problems resulting from prolonged exposure to cold include hypothermia, frostbite and exacerbation of chronic heart and lung conditions. Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite:

  • Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition where the body temperature is abnormally low. Symptoms may include shivering, slurred speech, sluggishness, drowsiness, unusual behavior, confusion, dizziness, and shallow breathing. Some people, such as infants, seniors, and those with chronic diseases and substance abuse problems can get sick quicker. Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors who may need assistance to ensure they are adequately protected from the cold.
  • Frostbite is a serious injury to a body part frozen from exposure to the cold. It most often affects extremities like fingers and toes or exposed areas such as ears or parts of the face. Redness and pain may be the first warning of frostbite. Other symptoms include numbness or skin that appears pale, firm, or waxy.

Provide first aid:

  • If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, call 911 to get medical help.
  • While waiting for assistance to arrive, help the person get warm by getting them to a warm place if possible, removing any damp clothing and covering them with warm blankets.

Click here for additional tips on:

  • What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
  • Safe Home Heating
  • Fire safety
  • If You Need Emergency Heating Assistance
  • Shelters and drop-in centers

For more information about cold weather safety and how you can prepare for emergencies call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/oem.

Click here for more information on Catholic Charities emergency food and shelter programs.

Call the Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900.

Invisible Child

Thursday, December 12th, 2013

“She wakes to the sound of breathing,” New York Times reporter Andrea Elliott writes in this compelling new series that shines a light on the growing number of homeless children in New York City.

“The smaller children lie tangled beside her, their chests rising and falling under winter coats and wool blankets. A few feet away, their mother and father sleep near the mop bucket they use as a toilet. Two other children share a mattress by the rotting wall where the mice live, opposite the baby, whose crib is warmed by a hair dryer perched on a milk crate.”

Ms. Elliott’s story follows the life of Dasani, an eleven-year-old who lives in the shadows of New York City’s high rises.  Her life appears more reminiscent of a 19th-century Dickens novel than of New York’s better-known twenty-first century stories of success.

The reality is that hunger and homelessness is growing in New York.

As Ms. Elliott reports:

  • Dasani belongs to a vast and invisible tribe of more than 22,000 homeless children in New York, the highest number since the Great Depression.
  • The ranks of the poor have risen, with almost half of New Yorkers living near or below the poverty line.
  • One in five American children is now living in poverty.
  • Nearly one-third of New York’s homeless children are supported by a working adult.
  • Even with both parents working full-time jobs, on minimum wage they would have combined salaries of only 2,300 per month.

Dasani and her fellow modern-day Oliver Twists have come to be known, among the city’s homeless advocates, as “the lost generation.”

At Catholic Charities we find and help children and families in need.

Thanks to Catholic Charities and our affiliated agencies, this year:

  • 6,600,000  children and their families received nutritious meals in parish & community food programs
  • 9,051   children and their families were provided with emergency overnight shelter
  • 7,254   children are growing and learning in day-care
  • 6,066   children and teens were placed in safe foster care
  • 4,628   youth are participating in sound after-school programs
  • 382      children were adopted by loving families

Do you or does someone you know need help?

Please call the Catholic Charities Help line at: 888-774-7900

For more information about a particular service, click below:

Day Care Summer Camps
Foster Care Community Centers
Adoption Preventive Services
After School / Out of School Time Activities

Can you help?  Join us now during this Christmas season and throughout the year.

 

 

Time Magazine Names Pope Francis “Person of the Year”

Wednesday, December 11th, 2013

L’Osservatore Romano

Calling Pope Francis “The People’s Pope,” Time magazine today named Pope Francis its Person of the Year.

“For pulling the papacy out of the palace and into the streets, for committing the world’s largest church to confronting its deepest needs, and for balancing judgment with mercy, Pope Francis is Time’s 2013 Person of the Year,” Time said in its announcement.

The honor comes just one day after Pope Francis called for a global “wave of prayer” to combat the growing epidemic of hunger.  The Vatican-based federation of Catholic charities, Caritas Internacionalis, organized this global campaign of prayer and action.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined with Pope Francis yesterday to pray for the millions of people who face hunger throughout the world, urging others to do so as well.  

Day in and day out, Catholic Charities helps solve the problems of those in need. The hungry, the homeless, the neglected child –  non-Catholics and Catholics alike – receive help and hope promptly, locally, always with compassion and dignity.

Please join us in celebrating this honor for Pope Francis.

Join us, also, in heeding his call.

 

Donning Plastic Aprons and Delivering Pasta; Catholic Charities Teams with POTS with Their Recipe for Success.

Tuesday, September 3rd, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Donning plastic aprons and matching gloves, 12 volunteers, all staff from Catholic Charities, served 530 lunches last week to homeless, poor and working-poor Bronx residents in POTS community dining room.

“You get the feeling you’re helping people and find a new appreciation for what you have,” said one of the volunteers, Catholic Charities Accounts Clerk Santa Rivera.

POTS, short for Part of the Solution, provides hot, healthy meals to its “guests” seven days a week in a bright, airy space furnished with small tables that give it the feel of a neighborhood café.   The nonprofit organization serves as a “one-stop shop” that provides a wide array of assistance programs under one roof.  Its  goal and success comes from moving its guests from crises to stability and, ultimately, to self sufficiency.  In addition to the community dining room, POTS offers a food pantry, clothing program, hair cuts, health care, mail service, family club, case management services and a legal clinic.

Serving guests at the table as if it were a restaurant, Catholic Charities volunteers participated in POTS’ model of upholding client dignity.  When guests arrived, the volunteers delivered beverages and brought plates brimming with pasta and vegetables. Behind the scenes, volunteers sorted bread, prepped food and washed dishes with POTS staff. And after guests left, they cleared  tables, swept, mopped and took out the garbage.

Meanwhile, fellow Catholic Charities volunteers stocked the POTS Food Pantry, a grocery-store style pantry that invites those in need to walk its aisles and “shop”  for the produce, dairy, canned and packaged items they need to prepare balanced meals in their own homes.

Catholic Charities staff said their volunteer experience made lasting memories.

“We were able to see how great an impact our small amount of volunteering has on people’s lives,” said Catholic Charities Accounts Payable Coordinator Monica Parra. “And we saw how people were so grateful that we were there to help.”

Looking  for help or want to volunteer at POTS?

Click here to learn more.

Run in the World’s Biggest Marathon for the World’s Greatest Cause

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Join Team Catholic Charities for the ING New York City Marathon.

Race numbers are striking:

  • 26.2-mile course winding through all five boroughs in the Greatest City in the World
  • 100,000-plus race applicants
  • 37,000 racing participants
  • 2,000,000 spectators

The need you will be running for is striking as well:

  • 40,000 New York school children have no place to call home
  • 365,000 people look for work in New York City every day but cannot find it
  • One in four families live in poverty
  • 1,400,000 New Yorkers – that’s one out of every six of our neighbors – rely daily on emergency food
  • Tens of thousands of people left  homeless after Hurricane Sandy lost their furniture, clothing and all that they owned.
  • Thousands still struggle to recover

Team Catholic Charities runners train for top physical condition to cross the finish line AND  cut back on our neighbors’ growing need.

Catholic Charities, partnering with  New York Road Runners, is an official Charity partner in this year’s ING New York City Marathon.  Our ten-person team plans to raise $30,000 to directly benefit our St. Nicholas Project.

Catholic Charities’ St. Nicholas Project provides:

  • job training and computer literacy classes to help New Yorkers find work
  • food pantries to make sure hungry New Yorkers have food
  • school supplies so children in need can keep up with their classmates
  • essential items including towels, sheets, blankets, coats, hats, gloves, scarves and pajamas so that New Yorkers stay warm all year.

Find out more

Join Team Catholic Charities

  

Another Family Faces Homelessness. This One Finds Help and Hope.

Monday, March 25th, 2013

Julissa Matias

By Alice Kenny

As housing prices continue rising in New York City while salaries at the low end of the pay scale stagnate, homelessness among working families has hit an all-time high. Augustina and her three toddlers, ages two, three and six, were about to join these homeless ranks.

The young mother’s $50-per-day income from her work as a home health aide had been stretched too thin for too long. Even with food stamps, she could not earn enough to pay for child care, clothing, and her Harlem apartment’s $1100 monthly rent. She owed nearly $12,000 to her landlord.

Homelessness in New York City has reached its highest levels since the Great Depression of the 1930s, according to statistics compiled by the Coalition for the Homeless. January 2013 set an all-time record with 50,100 homeless people. Twelve thousand homeless families including 21,000 homeless children who sleep each night in the New York City municipal shelter system comprise nearly three-quarters of the homeless shelter population. The overwhelming majority of these families holds jobs, such as Augustina, and fall behind in their rent after experiencing sudden medical costs, a death in the family, or loss of a job.

When Augustina first turned for help to the Catholic Charities Eviction Prevention Program she was terrified, she said. She had already been referred from one social service program. It seemed that time had run out.

Fortunately, she met Julissa Matias, site supervisor of the Catholic Charities Eviction Prevention Program at Waverly Job Center.

“It’s very rare that a family comes in that we cannot assist either by getting them FEPs (New York City’s Family Eviction Prevention Supplement) to help cover ongoing rent, obtain funding to cover rental arrears, or help find an apartment they can afford,” Ms. Matias said.

“But paying these families’ arrears is not enough,” she added. “They must be helped on to a sound footing where they can independently meet their future expenses.”

She was determined, she said, to provide this footing for Augustina and her children.

Augustina told Ms. Matias that she had been through hard times throughout her life. She no longer held out hope that anyone would help her.

So when Augustina learned that Catholic Charities would stand by her, she began to sob, Ms. Matias said. Through Catholic Charities Eviction Prevention Program, Ms Matias arranged for Augustina to receive a $2500 grant from a private organization. She helped her successfully apply for $7000 in FEPS funding. She bolstered Augustina’s confidence to ask her extended family for a $4000 loan. And she is using $1100 in Catholic Charities funds to pay back the remaining rental deficit.

Now, thanks to this help, Augustina and her children no longer wake up at night worried they might wind up on the street. They live in an apartment they know is their home.

“I have dealt with a lot of people in human service departments and Ms. Matias is the most professional, helpful, compassionate and kind person I’ve ever encountered,” Augustina said. “She gave me hope when so many gave me despair.”

At Catholic Charities in any given year:

6,981 families are saved from homelessness
1,487 people are placed in temporary or transitional apartments
6,109  families find affordable housing.

Click here to find a Catholic Charities agency that offers eviction prevention services.
Call the Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900 for assistance finding the services you need.