Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

Want to Volunteer but You’re Tight on Time?

Monday, April 14th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

We have tons of volunteer opportunities you can do from home.

Want to flex your artistic muscles? 

We’re looking for volunteers to create paint-by-numbers style images.  We’ll transfer your images to large canvases and get fellow volunteers to fill in the colors.  When we pull the painted canvases together – voila! – we have beautiful murals that brighten our sites serving folks in need.

How about your hospitality muscles?

We need volunteers to pull together hospitality kits for folks newly arrived in the U.S.. Like hotel welcome kits on steroids, they may include in toothbrushes, soaps and other toiletries, cleaning supplies, subway maps, granola bars and other ingredients you want to pop in to welcome and help folks get their bearing.

Similarly, we’re looking for housewarming gift bags to welcome some of the 440 individuals with mental illness we serve who are moving, many for the first time in their lives, into their own supported housing home.

And here’s an opportunity to bring out your inner Martha Stewart.

Help create We-Care cards to express love, support, and encouragement for those who are struggling.  Add your own personal messages of hope and cheer such as “Welcome to New York!” “Good Luck on Your Interview!” or “Happy Easter!”

 

Join us at Catholic Charities and vol-un-teer; [vol-uhn-teer] VERB: 1. TO PROVIDE HELP 2. TO CREATE HOPE

Walking but Broken

Thursday, October 17th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

After a dental hygienist from Connecticut rammed her car into a White House barricade earlier this month and joined a growing list of bizarre attacks by those suffering from mental illness, people have become increasingly aware of the need for access to mental health services.

“It’s really the instability of the world that’s shaking up people that used to have been able to keep soldiering on,” Maria Droste Counseling Services Executive Director Betsy Selman Babinecz tells Msgr. Kevin Sullivan during this recent episode on JustLove.

For decades, Maria Droste Counseling Services, an affiliate of Catholic Charities, has provided thousands of clients from the New York metropolitan area with affordable mental health care, Ms. Babinecz says.

Sponsored by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd, the agency is named for Maria Droste (1863-1899), a Good Shepherd Sister known for her ability to console those who came to her in pain.  Services are provided to individuals (adolescents and adults), couples, and groups experiencing a range of social/emotional stresses due to troubled personal or family experiences, impoverishment or unemployment.

“More and more people are coming in just feeling on edge, keyed up, and not quite sure where their lives are going,” Ms. Babinecz says. “Everybody is walking around with some kind of brokenness.”

Dr. Kenneth Pargament, Psychology professor at Bowling Green State University, joins the conversation, defining what constitutes a mental illness and why its repercussions can affect all of us.

Listen and learn more in this recent episode of JustLove on The Catholic Channel 129, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.

Click here  to contact Maria Droste Counseling Services.

Teaming Up with Corporate Volunteers, Artist Brightens Lives

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Theresa Flaherty turns on a projector and casts her blueprint onto an 18-square-foot canvas divided into six equal sections  temporarily housed in a Terrance Cardinal Cooke Catholic Center conference room.  After pairing her inspiration with hours of painstaking computer design work, this Catholic Charities volunteer’s creation is ready to roll.

Her creativity provides the essential link between corporate volunteers yearning to brighten the lives of persons in need and locations where some of those served by Catholic Charities live and thrive.

Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope, for example, provides supportive housing and vocational transition programs for persons challenged by mental illness.  While providing much needed services, the sites could benefit from brightening.

Meanwhile, corporate volunteers from the financial services company Deloitte LLP and the media company Viacom offered their help to cheer up these sites.

But their know-how was in business, not in art.

So Catholic Charities Director of Volunteer Services Staci-Jo Bruce advertised for a volunteer mural artist to design paint-by-number-type canvases that corporate volunteer groups could complete.  Voila…Theresa saw the ad posted and signed right up.

“A lot of art out now is about self expression,” Theresa says, as she traces her projected design on to the canvases.  “I want to go someplace else, to give something to the viewer to uplift them.”

Once she finishes her outlines, corporate volunteers can dawn aprons, pick up paint brushes and try their hands in a new line of work.

They have already completed six designs — 36 canvases all told — that now brighten Beacon of Hope locations.

“The unusual coupling of artists with corporate volunteers and persons in need creates a dynamic where everyone wins,” says Damian Buzzerio, who assists with the Catholic Charities volunteer program.

For corporate volunteers, it offers a morale booster where artistic clerks and less artistic bosses swap leadership roles as they take advantage of the opportunity to help those in need.

For Theresa, who earns her living as a book and poster illustrator, volunteering provides a stress reliever that offers an opportunity to create according to her own inspiration.

And for Beacon of Hope residents, the donated art serves as an uplifting reminder that people, many of whom they never meet, care enough to brighten their homes and lives.

“I think art should be where you need it,” Theresa says, “for regular people and not just in galleries.”

Artistic or not, you can make a difference.

Check out our comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities.

Come join us. 

Sign up now.

Celebrating Children’s Mental Health

Tuesday, May 14th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

The New York State National Alliance on Mental Illness honored Astor Services for Children & Families’ Early Head Start Program, an affiliate of Catholic Charities NY, on May 7 for their work successfully addressing the issues of children’s mental health.  This includes early identification, outreach, family education, providing mental health awareness in schools, and successfully intervening on behalf of afflicted children and their families. Astor Services received this award during a reception at the 2013 “What’s Great in Our State – A Celebration of Children’s Mental Health Awareness,” at the New York State Museum in Albany.

Astor’s Early Head Start Program serves over 200 infants, toddlers and their families in seven sites across Dutchess County.  Astor has operated the Head Start Program in Dutchess County since 1978 and later assumed responsibility for the Early Head Start Program. Head Start and Early Head Start are federally-funded programs for low-income families.

The children in Astor’s Head Start and Early Head Start Programs receive mental health screening through collaboration with Astor’s Hudson Valley Behavioral Health & Prevention Programs. This program provides early identification and intervention of social emotional problems in children, ages 2 to 18, through the Child and Family Clinic Plus Program (Clinic Plus). This program is a state-wide initiative by the Office of Mental Health to furnish mental health services for children and families.

“On behalf of the children, families and staff, I am delighted to receive this recognition,´ said Mary Sontheimer, Assistant Executive Director, Astor Services for Children & Families, Early Childhood Programs.  “These are the issues at the core of our Early Head Start Program: social emotional development, health relationships and positive attachments for children. All stakeholders in our program play a critical role in ensuring optimal mental health and positive self-esteem.”

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.