Posts Tagged ‘Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center’

Freedom Isn’t Free

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Deacon Rodney Beckford, Director of Catholic Charities at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem, took on the tough issues of broken families, estrangement from the Church and the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. Jr. when he shared his personal testimony  at St. Gregory the Great Church in Crown Heights.

Deacon Beckford served as guest speaker at the January 20th event that celebrated the birthday of Dr. King.  The deacon spoke about  growing up in the time of Dr. King and becoming estranged from the Church for a time after the civil rights leader was slain.

The full story is published in this recent issue of The Tablet.

“God always sends a prophet to bring light into darkness,” Deacon Beckford said. “In our time, it was Dr. Martin Luther King.”

 Like many biblical prophets, he said, Dr. King heard the Good News in a dream, and he proclaimed that truth throughout his life. 

“That truth is that freedom isn’t free, that you have to pay the price for your liberty. Dr. King taught us that it is possible to make a way. He made hope our shield and faith our weapon of choice against evil, against sin, against the devil.

“What enabled him to march on?” asked Deacon Beckford. “It was the truth – the truth of knowing that the Lord was his shepherd, the truth of knowing that nothing is impossible for He who walks on water.”

Prayer, he told the congregation, was at the root of everything Dr. King did to bring about social change before his life was cut short.

“But don’t think that because Martin is in his glory that the battle is won,” the deacon said. “The devil is still in the ’hood.”

He spoke about the breakdown of family and society as evidenced by thirty-somethings becoming grandparents, siblings with different fathers, children being raised by grandparents, youngsters wearing improper attire and an overall shift toward self-absorption. 

In these “confused times,” he said the way to “get back on track” is to walk the walk of the One who walked on water, starting with the Word.

He challenged the faithful to learn some Scripture by heart and further memorialize Dr. King by spreading the Good News and volunteering in their local community.

“If you want to honor Dr. Martin Luther King, take what he has done and make something of it,” Deacon Beckford said. “Turn the dream into reality.”

Dinner Theatre Morphs into Magic

Monday, May 13th, 2013

Dennis Scimone, Director of Residential Services for Beacon of Hope House with Denise Bauer Director, Beacon of Hope House

By Alice Kenny

Hosted by and for consumers with mental illness, the Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope annual talent show and dinner theatre– now in its twenty-eighth year — is always packed with creativity, comedy and fun.

But this year’s show held at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem on May 1 went over the top thanks to a last-minute rendition of “God Bless America” belted out by the Harlem Alumni Boys and Girls Choir.

Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center is always a hopping place.  Dance classes, music, theatre and social service programs fill this central Harlem meeting spot day in and day out from its basement to its top floor.

Sometimes the synergy morphs into magic, as it did on Talent Show night.

Ninety consumers along with family and friends from Beacon of Hope residential programs and its vocational club house had already feasted at the dinner theatre event as fellow consumers emceed and regaled them with a fashion show, songs, dances, original poetry, and outstanding music played on the guitar, drums and harmonica.

A special night like this, however, seemed to need something extra, said Damian Buzzerio, who helped coordinate a team of five volunteers that helped at the event.  That’s when the Harlem Alumni Boys and Girls Choir that had been training in their usual rehearsal room, made their surprise appearance.  As their special gift to this special group, the choir trooped on stage and belted out God Bless America.

“It is becoming more and more difficult to find such a special and safe place for events such as these to flourish,” says Debbie Ciraolo, an American Sign Language interpreter with Beacon of Hope who assisted with the show.  “I cherish this experience.”

Join us to find a “special, safe place” that recognizes your talents and creativity.

 Click here to find a volunteer opportunity tailored just for you.

Community Leaders Come Together at the Kennedy Center

Friday, September 21st, 2012

Catholic Charities Associate Executive Director Joseph Buttigieg, Doris R. Conner, and Kennedy Center Director Deacon Rodney Beckford

On Saturday, September 15th, community leaders, artists and Catholic Charities staff gathered at the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center to share ideas, recognize outstanding individuals and discuss future plans for the center.

The first annual event, hosted by the Kennedy Center Advisory Board, was called a mélange, from the French word for “mixture,” signifying both the atmosphere of the mixer and the diverse mix of programs and people involved with the center. Catholic Charities Executive Director Monsignor Kevin Sullivan addressed attendees regarding the organization’s vision, resources, long-term needs and commitment to the Central Harlem community. The center’s Director, Deacon Rodney Beckford, also spoke about plans for exciting new initiatives and programs coming up.

Located in Harlem and administered by Catholic Charities Community Services, the Kennedy Center provides activities and services ranging from performing arts and sports programs, to a senior center serving nearly 200 seniors daily, to The Rusty Staub Emergency Food Pantry serving 300-500 community members in need every month.

Learn more about programs and services offered by Catholic Charities Community Services.

What program or activity would you most like to see at the Kennedy Center?