Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Sandy’

Our Prayers for All Hurt by Massive Colorado Floods; Our Help for Disaster Survivors

Monday, September 16th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Our thoughts and prayers are with all hurt by the massive flooding that already damaged nearly 20,000 homes in 15 Colorado counties and, as of last night, left 1,243 persons unaccounted for.

As New Yorkers who struggled through Hurricane Sandy and Tropical Storm Irene, we know firsthand about coping with natural disasters.

At Catholic Charities, we know firsthand how to help.

Please remember that we are here to help during disasters and every day.

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 responds to meet the human needs of the victims, providing help and creating hope for rebuilding lives.

Many still struggle to recover from Hurricane Sandy. If you need help recovering from Hurricane Sandy,
please click on this link.

Click here for Help.

Click here to Help.

Help is here.

Surviving Sandy; This Year There Are No Roses

Friday, August 30th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Raindrops pour down a battered picket fence dotted with Mickey and Minnie Mouse paintings surrounding Marina Babkina’s two-story attached home in Midland Beach. They serve as faded reminders of a once-thriving international daycare center and home now struggling to rebuild after Hurricane Sandy touched down in this Staten Island enclave.

Ms. Babkina’s Karousel Daycare Center and Fairytale music studio provided crucial support for her predominantly Russian-born neighbors. In addition to allowing parents to work worry free, it helped young children, many of whom spoke no English, acclimate to their new lives in the United States.

“The human brain is set up to distinguish music before it distinguishes speech,” says Ms. Babkina, a U.S. citizen who emigrated from Russia nearly 20 years ago and holds masters degrees in music and economics. So Ms. Bakina, a widow whose husband died of cancer in 2002, used songs and instruments ranging from guitars to keyboards to help her tiny charges, 14 in all, learn language, math and art.

That ended when Hurricane Sandy pushed waves from the Atlantic Ocean that roars just one block away into the basement and first floor that housed her business. Meanwhile, 90- mile-an-hour winds ripped through her second-floor skylights, destroying the walls, floors and furniture that made up her home.

Ms. Babkina evacuated. But her adult son, Ilya, returned to save instruments stored in the finished basement. Instead, he nearly drowned. Forty-degree ocean water filled the lower room. He escaped by pulling himself up the cellar stairs, pushing his way out the front door and swimming nearly 15 blocks up Hyland Blvd. Finally, he reached dry land.

Yet at first, Ms. Babkina seemed like one of the lucky ones. Unlike many of her neighbors, she had flood insurance.

But she used up her flood insurance – $50,000 in all — to replace windows, walls, cabinets and appliances before engineers noticed that her house was shifting. Chocking on scents of mold mixed with sawdust, Ms. Bakina points to cracks zigzagging her windows and walls, salt water still flowing along her foundation and a jagged 12-square-foot gap in cement, a reminder of a cracked pipe that had to be dug up beneath her basement.

Her Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager, Valerya Osipova, is helping this once-independent woman navigate a new world characterized by FEMA and forms, hope and desperation.

It has not been easy.

 

Ms. Babkina’s home is wedged in the middle of five attached houses. Construction engineers now recommend building pillars that would extend from deep in the ground to the houses’ roofs to shore up the now shifting homes. This, however, requires consent and financial support from all five homeowners as well as their insurance companies.

 

Meanwhile, Ms. Babkina is unable to move back into her home, reestablish the business that once paid her bills or provide the daycare that allowed many of her neighbors to work.

 

Ms. Osipova is helping Ms. Babkina negotiate with FEMA and with her insurance company. She obtained a $500 grant to replace the battered fence with a new one to allow Ms. Babkina to reopen her daycare business. She lined up donations that range from flooring to skylights and furniture between. She provided her with food from a Catholic Charities food pantry, helped her apply for food stamps and linked her with other government programs that Ms. Bakina once thought she would never need. And she serves as a comfort and sounding board when the time and energy needed to maintain the struggle seems too much for her to bear.

 

“It’s not easy,” Ms. Babkina says, pointing out a plot of dirt once filled by rose bushes that would bloom on her July birthday. “This year, there are no roses.”


Riding Leprechaun Buses; Running for Team Catholic Charities

Wednesday, August 7th, 2013

By Ed Gallagher

Many lives have been forever changed and even destroyed by Hurricane Sandy and the terrorist attack at the Boston Marathon. It heightened my resolve to live life more fully and not procrastinate on my dreams and goals. These two devastating events, one natural, one man made, exemplified the dichotomy of life:  Life is truly fragile, but it is also amazingly resilient for those that survive.

I have never run a marathon, but it has always been on my “bucket list”. I figured I’d better do it sooner than later as I know it won’t get any easier as each year passes.

I grew up as a competitive swimmer, starting at age 5. I started running cross country in high school to get in shape for the winter swim season. I instantly fell in love with many aspects of running; the challenge both mental and physical, the solitude of training and camaraderie of race day. It gives me time to think about issues at work and home, put life into perspective and be a better husband, father, friend and employer.

I stopped running for many years as I got involved with family business and started a family. I am president of The Leprechaun Transportation Group, a small group of passenger transportation companies providing school bus, transit, commuter and charter motor coach service in the Hudson Valley and beyond. It is a third-generation family-owned enterprise started by my grandfather in 1934. My hope is that it becomes a fourth-generation family business.

My wife, Mary Jane, and I live with our four children; Katie, 15, Caroline 14, Eddie, 12, and Joseph, 9, in Montgomery, NY.  We are members of Most Precious Blood parish and our kids have attended this parish school.

I began running again a few years ago to be able to keep up with my kids, lose my “spare tire” and be fit mentally and physically.

Meanwhile, several years ago Sr. Joann Dress, CEO of Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County, approached me to become a board member. I agreed with little understanding of the full extent of their work.  From day one, I have been thoroughly impressed with the board’s and staff’s dedication, passion, focus and operational efficiencies of this organization. They touch so many lives in this community.  You can’t help but be drawn to help with their mission.

Running as a member of Team Catholic Charities allows me to fulfill a personal goal while also fulfilling a charitable goal.

I truly appreciate this opportunity.

Help support Ed’s ING NYC Marathon campaign. Click here to find out how: www.crowdrise.com/CatholicCharitiesNYC2013/fundraiser/edgallagher

Going door to door, tent to shed, to serve those still suffering from Superstorm Sandy.

Friday, July 26th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Although nine months have passed since Hurricane Sandy pushed ocean waves down the streets of Staten Island’s Midland Beach, upending cars, flooding homes and destroying nearly everything in its wake, some residents of this seaside community still live in makeshift tents and sheds.  Some even sleep on park benches.

Many still need assistance with basic needs such as food and shelter. This includes children, the elderly, and new immigrants. Nine months into this disaster and many believe they have nowhere to turn for help.

A number of local volunteer organizations have been created or expanded to address these needs. “Every night a volunteer goes out in search of those still in need of a meal and a place to sleep,” says Catholic Charities Community Development Coordinator Lourdes Ferrer.

Over three hundred Sandy survivors already receive support from Catholic Charities disaster case managers stationed at Catholic Charities’ office at 120 Anderson Avenue in Staten Island. But rather than just waiting for Sandy survivors to come to Catholic Charities, disaster case managers also go to them.

Catholic Charities manages the New York State Disaster Case Management Program. Designed to streamline support and avoid frustration and confusion, the Disaster Case Management program whittles down the complex system of disaster support by providing survivors with a single point of contact to access a broad range of resources. This allows people still reeling from the loss of jobs and homes to avoid the need to search out multiple organizations that might respond to their various needs. Instead, survivors can relate their experiences and submit their documentation to a single, local disaster case manager who guides them through the recovery process.

Many residents of Staten Island never before had to ask for social service help and were unsure of the value of these services.  They initially hoped they could do everything themselves.

So Catholic Charities teamed up with local “hubs,” ad hoc service centers that sprang up in neighborhoods hit hardest by the hurricane to provide food, water, clothing, supplies and services, educate the community and reach more of those in need.   Case managers from Catholic Charities now help staff the Staten Island Alliance office on Colony Ave, enrolling many new clients into the program and meeting with existing clients.  Case managers are also able to meet with clients in their homes.  To extend these services, Catholic Charities disaster case managers are preparing to staff another hub in the New Dorp neighborhood in Staten Island. By meeting staff at home, in local hubs and Catholic Charities offices, hurricane survivors can feel comfortable in familiar surroundings close to home among people they know.

“People think that because so many months have passed, that everything is back to ‘normal’,” Lourdes said. “But the reality is there are communities in Staten Island that are still recovering and struggling to accept the new ‘normal’.”

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

  

Explore Our Interactive Annual Report Online

Monday, June 10th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

We’re proud to announce our interactive 2012 Annual Report. 

Check out this easy-access gateway filled with videos and multimedia devices.

Learn firsthand about Catholic Charities services.

Hear directly from our clients, donors and staff.

Listen to their stories.

See and hear for yourself what makes the work we do at Catholic Charities so special.  Tell us what you think.

Bridging the Gap between Wealth and Want

Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Looking for a sneak peek inside the lives and work at Catholic Charities?

  • Meet Vladimir, a teenager from rural El Salvador who thought he was the only child born without hearing; the Incognitos, a couple married 50 years now struggling to stay together despite illness and Erin, a cancer survivor whose home was destroyed by Hurricane Sandy.
  • Meet Julia Schafer and MaryEllen Ferrera, Catholic Charities case managers who helped rebuild their lives.
  • Meet Catherine Kinney and Stanley Grayson, leaders on Catholic Charities’ Board of Trustees.
  • And listen as Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and His Excellency Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan explain how Catholic Charities bridges the gap between wealth and want in Stories of Help & Hope 2013, the latest of Catholic Charities’ powerful online videos.

“Catholic Charities builds bridges,” Msgr. Sullivan says, “the bridges needed to connect New York’s great resources – public and private – to provide help that creates hope for each person, made in God’s image and likeness, non-Catholic and Catholic alike.”

It builds bridges inside and out.

“Catholic Charities was like family,” Erin says as she describes the hurricane that stole all she owned. “Finally I had a support system behind me that I didn’t get from anyplace else.  It’s not just rebuilding our house; it’s rebuilding our lives.”

Watch Stories of Help & Hope 2013 now.

 

Our Prayers for All Hurt by the Oklahoma Tornado; Our Help for Disaster Survivors

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Our thoughts and prayers are with all those hurt by the devastating, mile-wide tornado that touched down near Oklahoma City yesterday, killing at least 51 people—including 20 children—decimating homes, businesses and a pair of elementary schools.

As New Yorkers who have unfortunately struggled through Hurricane Sandy, Tropical Storm Irene and the World Trade Center destruction, we know firsthand about coping with disasters.

At Catholic Charities, we know firsthand how to help.

Please remember that we are here to help during disasters and every day.

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 responds to meet the human needs of the victims, providing help and creating hope for rebuilding lives.

Many still struggle to recover from Hurricane Sandy. Please come see your local Disaster Case Manager for help rebuilding your life.

For disaster recovery, click to learn more.

Click here for Help.

Click here to Help.

Help is here.

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.

Immigration Reform: Mass Mobilization “from the Bottom Up”

Monday, April 8th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

As the Senate “Gang of 8″ completes its work on a Comprehensive Immigration Reform bill (CIR) and Congress prepares to debate its provisions, key leaders of New York’s diverse faith communities joined with elected officials at a press conference held at the Community Church of New York, 40 East 35th Street in Manhattan, on April 5. One leader after another spoke to promote just and humane comprehensive immigration reform, urging Congress to use moral values as a guidepost.

Speakers included Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities of New York; Pastor Gilford Monrose, Vice President of CUSH; Imam Talib Abdur Rashid, Mosque of the Islamic Brotherhood; Rabbi Michael Feinberg, Greater NY Labor-Religion Coalition; Congresswoman Yvette Clarke; Congressman Joseph Crowley; Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez; Chung-Wha Hong of the New York Immigration Coalition; along with several young New York City immigrants.

David Lopez, 19, an undocumented resident of Staten Island and victim of Superstorm Sandy, spoke about challenges he faces since the hurricane destroyed the apartment where he lived and the business where he worked. Now homeless, he is ineligible for FEMA assistance because of his immigration status.

“I started working from the bottom up,” David said. “I want to become something to be able to help this country but I am unable to because of my status.”

When Msgr. Sullivan came to the podium he thanked Mr. Lopez for sharing his story.

“Catholic Charities is both proud and privileged to be part of these new New Yorkers that contribute to the growth and well-being of this country, the one they call home,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “We welcome comprehensive reform that provides a path out of the shadows, strengthens and reunites families and provides for fair and humane legal immigration opportunities.”

Immigrants and advocates will make this case in Washington D.C. on April 10th at a massive mobilization and faith community vigil for citizenship. More than 2000 New Yorkers are expected to participate.

“It is both overdue and heartening that the critical issue of immigration reform is moving to the top of Washington’s agenda,” Monsignor Sullivan said. “Immigrants have not only helped build this nation, but so many of our vibrant institutions, including our parishes.”