Posts Tagged ‘Neediest Cases’

Fighting to Keep the Life She Built

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

By Alice Kenny

Seven years old when her family moved her from Mexico to Yonkers, Beatriz Rivera, now 31, does all she can to achieve the American dream.

At age 14, she began her career at the bottom rung as a bagger at a local grocery chain store.  Quickly she was promoted to cashier, then supervisor, then customer service rep, then junior accounting clerk.  Ultimately she worked as the manager’s executive assistant.

However, the work permit she received at age 17 expired years ago.  So, while she has a valid social security number and driver’s license, she also counts herself among the “Dreamers” who live both openly and in the shadows of American society.

This impacts her life in small and large ways.  For example, although she has been paying state, local and social security taxes for more than a decade, she would be ineligible to receive social security benefits.

Fortunately, Catholic Charities attorneys are helping her obtain a two-year, renewable work permit by filling out a Deferred Action Plan for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application.

Now, while working full time, she is also pursuing her associate’s degree to become a registered nurse.

Read her full story in The New York Times.

Taking Responsibility for a Child, Then Raising Five More

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Bridgett Webb, 47, took in her niece, Shanequa, as a newborn. Ms. Webb, who had a daughter six years ago, also helps Shanequa, who has developmental delays, raise her four children. James Estrin/The New York Times

Twenty-three years ago, in a hospital maternity ward, Bridgett Webb made a pivotal choice.

The health of her newborn niece, Shanequa Webb, was precarious, jeopardized by the actions of Ms. Webb’s sister, the girl’s mother, who had used crack cocaine during her pregnancy. Foster care for the newborn was imminent.

“They asked me if I could care for her, and I said, ‘Can I do this?’ ” Ms. Webb, now 47, recalled. “I was standing there and the lady said, ‘I’ll give you a week.’ I decided I shouldn’t even wait a week. This is my blood, this is my niece. I walked up and the Lord just told me, ‘Take her.’ ”

The baby became a beloved daughter to Ms. Webb.

Raising her was no easy feat. Shanequa has contended with depression and developmental delays all of her life.

The rockiest moment in their relationship occurred six years ago, when they realized Shanequa, still a teen, was pregnant with twins.

Now “I look at them as if they were my very, very own,” Ms. Webb says of the dominant role she plays in bringing up her grandchildren.

Read their story in The New York Times.

Find out how Catholic Charities is helping this family thrive despite the challenges they face.

 

After Surviving Slaughter, A Deep Instinct to Survive

Monday, December 30th, 2013

By Hannah Murphy

The New York Times

When Epiphanie Musabiyemaria was growing up in Rwanda among two tribes, Hutu and Tutsi, teachers would ask each student “what they were.” She could not answer, she said, because her father had never told her. We are all just people, he insisted.

When she was 23, at the beginning of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the government decided for her. Her mother was tall, which was considered a Tutsi trait. The family’s friends were Tutsi. Her fiancé, the father of her unborn son, was Tutsi.

So every day, the Hutu-led government threatened to kill them.

“Three o’clock was a very special hour for our family,” she said. “That’s when they gave you the notice that you were going to be killed.” It was rumored that anti-Tutsi forces were waiting for her to give birth, to kill her infant as well.

By the end of the war, her brother, her fiancé and her youngest sister were dead.

Read her story in The New York Times.

Find out how Catholic Charities is helping her rebuild her life.

Defrauded Widower Rebuilds Life

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Eugenio German sold ice cream from a pushcart. Anita Villalongo left her building each day to buy a cone.

Their friendship blossomed into a marriage. Their marriage blossomed into a family; two daughters and a son.

But cancer and corruption almost wiped it all away.  Ms. Villalongo-German, a Puerto Rican American citizen, died of cancer – multiple myeloma – and renal failure on March 26, 2011.  Meanwhile, attorneys the couple had hired to process Dominican-born Mr. German’s application for citizenship defrauded them, leaving Mr. German in danger of deportation.

Fortunately, the Catholic Charities Immigration department stepped in to help.

Read the full story in today’s New York Times.

Pressing on for the Children

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

By Alice  Kenny

For more than a decade, Marjorie Suarez worked as a sergeant at New York University Department of Public Safety.  She supervised a staff of 80 officers and earned enough to provide a comfortable life for herself and her young son, Eugene.

But a freak accident that began with a fall and sprained ankle morphed into a chronic condition, complex regional pain syndrome, CRPS, left her wheelchair bound, unemployed and in constant pain.

The New York Times profiled her and the help she received during last year’s Neediest Cases campaign.  This year, it caught back up with her in this online video along with two other women helped by the campaign.

“This entire situation made me humble and opened my heart,” Ms. Suarez said.  “I see now that even a small gesture like saying “good morning” to someone – “how are you doing; how can I help you” — can change a day and turn a life around.”

A Widow Struggles to Pick Up the Pieces

Monday, November 26th, 2012

By Alice Kenny

Beaulah Smith sat on a hospital bed beside Isaac, her husband of 40 years, as a team of doctors explained the grim state of his health.

Terminal colon cancer. Inoperable.

Mr. Smith died three weeks later, on Feb. 2, 2012.

While grieving, Ms. Smith simultaneously fought her own life-and-death battle with ovarian cancer.  The two contests broke her heart and depleted her savings.

Click here to read her story published this past Sunday in The New York Times and learn about support and intervention that Catholic Charities provided.

Beaten, Blinded and Homeless, Young Man Rebuilds Life

Friday, November 16th, 2012

By Alice Kenny

Carlos Castro does not remember the last thing he saw before losing consciousness on March 7, 2003. He collapsed onto a sidewalk in Flushing, Queens, after one of the five attackers he had been fleeing stabbed him in his chest, shoulder and stomach.

But the memory of what Mr. Castro, then 16, first glimpsed when his eyes opened next is indelible. “It was black,” he said. “I had no sight.”

Click here to read about his struggle to recover his sight and care for his elderly mother and the crucial help he received from Catholic Charities Guild for the Blind.

Pregnant and Homeless, Teenage Mom Finds Help. Read her story in The New York Times.

Tuesday, November 13th, 2012

By Alice Kenny

The New York Times Neediest Cases Campaign kicked off its 101st year of profiling the people Catholic Charities serves.

Lataja James, 18, for example, planned to attend an all-expense-paid volunteer program in Nicaragua the summer before her senior year of high school.  But when she went to her doctor for the required vaccinations, a simple blood test revealed that she was pregnant.

The following day, Lataja’s mother bought her a suitcase.  But it was not for the trip Lataja had planned.

“‘I don’t know where you’re going,'” Lataja recalls her mother saying, “‘but you’re going to get out of my house.'”

Click here to read about the home and help Lataja found at Catholic Charities affiliate Elinor Martin Residence for Mother and Child in New Rochelle, NY and the future she and her baby son, Dillyn, have begun to build.