Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

Disabled Teens Take Their Turn Changing Lives

Friday, March 14th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

In a classroom decorated with primary-colored posters detailing how to tell time, multiply and “Follow Your Conscience,” teens with various disabilities from St. Dominic’s School packed boxes with donated food to support Catholic Charities “Feeding Our Neighbors” campaign.

“A lot of these children feel disconnected,” said St. Dominic’s Principal Paul Siragusa. “Helping feed the hungry makes them feel they have an impact on society that they never before could have dreamed of.”

And the 80 students, ages 5- 21, had a major impact. Together they took on the entire food drive, from making posters to studying foods’ nutritional values to soliciting donations to preparing food for distribution. All told, the students collected 500 pounds of food, enough to provide the hungry with 625 meals.

Some of the financially less fortunate children contributed as well, which, Mr. Siragusa said, “was worth more than an adults bringing in an entire bag.”

Located in Rockland County’s rolling hills, St. Dominic’s School provides targeted learning for children with special needs. Its intimate size, including two instructors for every eight students, is balanced by its large reputation. St. Dominic’s draws children from New York City, Westchester, Rockland and Orange counties whose needs are too great to be met by their local schools.

The school is part of Saint Dominic’s Home. This nonprofit Catholic social welfare agency affiliated with Catholic Charities is dedicated to meeting the educational, physical, social, emotional, medical, vocational and spiritual needs of 2,300 individuals who are developmentally disabled, socially disadvantaged and/or vocationally challenged.

Founded in 1878, Saint Dominic’s Home began as a safe haven for immigrant children who had been abandoned on the streets of New York City. Today, St. Dominc’s Home provides person-centered care for individuals with developmental disabilities in the Bronx, Orange and Rockland counties so they can live their lives with hope and dignity in a family-like setting. It prepares and supports foster parents so they can give children, who often have been neglected, abused, or abandoned, a brighter future and a loving home and family. It delivers a continuum of care to adults with mental illness and provides them the greatest level of independence. It grows the minds of disadvantaged preschoolers so they are motivated to excel. It gives children and youth with developmental disabilities and serious emotional disturbance living at home the opportunity to live in a more stable family environment.

And, through St. Dominic’s School, it enables children facing emotional and educational challenges to reach their potential.

The food drive, Mr. Siragusa said, has served as a springboard for a variety of activities. Students now participate in “Letters to the Heroes” where they write letters to soldiers thanking them for their service. They also take part in “Operation Goody Bag,” sending candy and homemade Valentine’s Day cards to first responders.

Despite their personal challenges, the students have learned, Mr. Siragusa said, that “there is always something they can do to help someone else.”

Learn more about St. Dominic’s School and Home.

Irish Consulate Teams with Project Irish Outreach

Tuesday, October 15th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Thanks to significant support from the Consulate General of Ireland, Project Irish Outreach has offered the Irish community settled in New York City and Westchester County frontline advice, counseling and support services for more than 26 years.

Catholic Charities staff are located in Aisling Irish Community Center in Westchester County and at the Catholic Center in Manhattan. Project Irish Outreach provides specialized services to address the needs of disadvantaged and vulnerable Irish emigrants.  Services include information and referral, immigration legal assistance and/or representation, social services casework, pastoral services, maternity services, ministry to Irish prisoners,  healthcare information and referral and general support services for individuals, families and the elderly.

Are you an Irish emigrant looking for help?

Please call us at 914-237-5098 or email us at Sr.Christine.hennessy@archny.org

Excessive Heat Warning Issued

Friday, July 19th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Forecasting hot, humid weather today that will feel like 106 degrees, the National Weather Service issued an Excessive Heat Warning. This is the sixth day of a long and dangerous heat wave that threatens our most vulnerable residents. Catholic Charities is teaming up with fellow social service agencies and New York City to help keep you cool.

PLEASE JOIN US BY WATCHING OUT FOR YOUR NEIGHBORS IN NEED:

  • Check in on vulnerable relatives, friends and neighbors.
  • Make a special effort to support seniors, young children, and people with special needs to get to a cool place or medical attention if they need it.
  • Remember that free Cooling Centers are in and near your local neighborhood and there are many ways to stay safe during the heat.
  • Sign up for Notify NYC to receive Office of Emergency Management (OEM) notifications (call 311 or go to www.nyc.gov/oem)

FIND A COOLING CENTER NEAR YOU:

  • Call 311 or enter your address in the Cooling Center Finder on www.nyc.gov/oem.
  • Be sure to call and confirm the center is open before traveling in the heat.
  • Agencies providing Cooling Center facilities are:
    • NYC Department for the Aging
    • New York City Housing Authority
    •  NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Brooklyn Public Library
    • New York Public Library
    • Queens Library
    • The Salvation Army

 QUICK HEAT-BEATING TIPS:

  •  If possible, stay out of the sun.
  •  When in the sun, wear sunscreen (at least SPF 15) and a hat to protect your face and head.
  •  Use an air conditioner if you have one. Set the thermostat no lower than 78 degrees.
  •  If you do not have an air conditioner, keep rooms well-ventilated with open windows and fans. Consider going to a public pool, air-conditioned store, mall, movie theater, or cooling center.
  •  Fans work best at night, when they can bring in cooler air from outside.
  •  Seniors and others who may be sensitive to extreme heat should contact friends, neighbors, or relatives at least twice a day during a heat wave.
  •  Drink fluids – particularly water – even if you do not feel thirsty.
  •  Avoid beverages containing alcohol, caffeine, or high amounts of sugar. People with heart, kidney or liver disease, or on fluid restricted diets should check with their doctors before increasing fluid intake.
  •  Wear lightweight, light-colored, loose clothing that covers as much of your skin as possible.
  •  Never leave children, pets, or those who require special care in a parked car during periods of intense summer heat.
  •  Avoid strenuous activity, especially during the sun’s peak hours – 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you must engage in strenuous activity, do it during the coolest part of the day, usually in the morning between 4 a.m. and 7 a.m.
  • Cool showers or baths may be helpful, but avoid extreme temperature changes. Never take a shower immediately after becoming overheated – extreme temperature changes may make you ill, nauseated, or dizzy.

 WORRIED THAT YOU MAY BE SUFFERING FROM HEAT RELATED ILLNESS?

 Seek help if you feel these symptoms:

  • Heat cramps are muscular pains and spasms, usually in the leg or stomach muscles, resulting from heavy exertion during extreme heat.

Although heat cramps are the least severe of all heat-related health problems, they are often the first signal that the body is having trouble coping with the heat and should be treated immediately with rest and fluids. Stretching, gentle massaging of the spasms, or direct, firm pressure on cramps can reduce pain. Seek medical attention if pain is severe or nausea occurs.

  • Heat exhaustion occurs when body fluids are lost through heavy sweating due to vigorous exercise or working in a hot, humid place.

Blood flow to the skin increases, causing blood flow to vital organs to decrease. Symptoms include: sweating, pale and clammy skin, fatigue, headache, dizziness, shallow breaths, and a weak pulse. Heat exhaustion should be treated with rest in a cool area, sipping water or electrolyte solutions, applying cool and wet cloths, elevating the feet 12 inches, and further medical treatment in severe cases. If not treated, the victim’s condition may escalate to heat stroke. If the victim does not respond to basic treatment, seek medical attention. Heat exhaustion usually occurs when the heat index is between 90 and 105 degrees.

 Heat stroke — also called “sunstroke” — occurs when the victim’s temperature control system, which produces perspiration to cool the body, stops working. The skin is flushed, hot and dry, and body temperature may be elevated. In fact, body temperature can rise so high that brain damage and death may result if the body is not cooled quickly. The victim may also be confused, develop seizures, breathe shallowly, and have a weak, rapid pulse. Heat stroke is the most serious heat-related illness and people exhibiting its symptoms should seek emergency medical attention.

  •  Hot summer weather can increase ozone levels.

Ozone, a major component of smog, is created in the presence of sunlight by reactions of chemicals found in gasoline vapors and emissions from cars and industrial smoke stacks.

WHAT ABOUT AIR QUALITY?

When ozone levels in the unhealthy range are expected, New Yorkers are advised to limit vigorous outdoor physical activity during the afternoon and early evening hours when ozone levels are at their highest.

If you have asthma or other respiratory problems, stay in an area where it is cool and the air is filtered or air-conditioned. Outdoor exercise should be scheduled for the morning hours whenever possible.

Children are generally more at risk to the effects of ozone, especially in the summer as children tend to spend more time outdoors.

People who exercise moderately (such as jogging) are also at risk, because breathing rate increases with exercise and the amount of ozone delivered into the lung per minute increases.

Additionally, ozone can have a dramatic effect on people with asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or those sensitive to ozone.

 Symptoms associated with unhealthy levels of ozone include:

  • Chest pain
  • Coughing & wheezing
  • Lung & nasal congestion
  • Labored breathing
  • Nausea
  • Eye & nose irritation
  • Faster breathing
  • Sore throat

High ozone levels can also decrease lung function, increase susceptibility to respiratory infection, and aggravate asthma and other chronic lung diseases. Schedule outdoor exercise and children’s outdoor activities for the morning hours. Individuals who experience respiratory symptoms or chest pain should consult their doctors.

 To help reduce ozone levels:

  •  Avoid driving, especially on hot summer days. Use mass transit, walk, or carpool instead.
  •  Be careful not to spill gasoline and fill your gas tank during the cooler evening hours.
  •  Keep your car properly tuned and maintained.
  •  Seal containers of household cleaners, solvents, and chemicals to prevent evaporation of chemicals that can contribute to ozone formation.

 NEED MORE INFORMATION about heat safety and how you can prepare for emergencies?

Call 311 or visit www.nyc.gov/oem

Looking for free staff plus a chance to help teens this summer? Sign me up.

Monday, April 29th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Looking for free staffing plus a chance to help teens this summer?
Check out Catholic Charities Community Services/Alianza Division’s Summer Youth Employment Program. We are looking for organizations and agencies to partner with us to provide young people with a worksite and great work experience.

What’s in it for you?
All told, we plan to train and place more than 900 teens and young adults, ages 14 — 24, at worksites throughout New York City from July 8th until August 17th. And this is all at no cost to you.

The Summer Youth Employment Program (SYEP) provides New York City teens and young adults with summer employment and educational experiences that capitalize on individual strengths, develop skills, and connect youth to positive adult role models.

SYEP provides six weeks of entry-level jobs at community-based organizations, government agencies and private sector businesses. In past years these have included hospitals, summer camps, nonprofits, small businesses, law firms, museums, sports enterprises and retail organizations.

What’s in it for youth?

The Summer Youth Employment Program is designed to:

  •  Emphasize real-world labor expectations
  •  Increase awareness of services offered by local community-based organizations
  •  Provide opportunities for career instruction, financial literacy training, academic improvement, and social growth

CCCS works in collaboration with the Department of Youth and Community Development and pays participants the minimum wage pay rate of $7.25.

Don’t worry. We provide the salary; you provide the site.

How about some details?

As an SYEP worksite, you agree to:

  • Provide productive and meaningful work assignments
  • Provide training and supervision
  • Communicate regularly with the community-based organization that placed participants to ensure accurate compensation for hours worked
  • Evaluate your participants and provide adequate feedback and mentoring
  • You can choose Group 1: Youth ages 14-15 or Group 2: Youth ages 16-24.
    • The younger group works 15 work hours plus 5 educational hours per week. (No worries: We provide the educational hours.)
    • Group 2 can work 25 hours a week.

Sounds great. How do I sign up?

Click here to learn more and become a worksite.

Click here to learn more.

Good Friday – A Commemoration and a Call to Assist Victims of Today’s Crucifixions

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Photo Credit: Sr. Marylin Gramas, S.U.

By Alice Kenny

At the largest public Christian peace witness in New York City, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York Director of Justice and Peace Thomas Dobbins stood with Sr. Maureen Jerkowski, a member of the Lifeway Network of Religious Against Human Trafficking, as she read at the Catholic Charities of New York-sponsored Tenth Station of the Cross; Jesus is Stripped of His Garments, on Good Friday, March 29, 2013.

More than 500 people joined with them at this thirtieth annual Good Friday Way of the Cross, a modern-day enactment of the Stations of the Cross, to pray for peace and justice on the streets of New York.   The walk began at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza (47th Street at First Avenue) and proceeded along 42nd Street to Ninth Avenue.  Participants were encouraged to reflect on “How do I do for others what Jesus is doing for me? How am I called to live in this world?”

Catholic Charities and the LifeWay Network chose the tenth station of the cross to raise awareness of human trafficking.  LifeWay Network’s mission is to provide safe housing for survivors of human trafficking and to offer educational opportunities for the general public.  Catholic Charities helps immigrants reunite legally with their families, obtain proper work authorization, learn English and civics, and prepare to pass citizenship exams. The organization also assists immigrants, non Catholics and Catholics alike, to avoiding exploitation by unscrupulous practitioners by providing correct information and realistic counsel about immigration status.

The Good Friday Way of the Cross is organized each year by Pax Christi Metro New York, a regional section of Pax Christi, the international Catholic movement for peace.

“The Pax Christi Good Friday Way of the Cross has become an important part of my Good Friday observance over the past few years,” Mr. Dobbins said.  “It helps me to remember that Good Friday is not only a commemoration of events that took place 2,000 years ago, but more importantly is a call for us as Christians and people of good will to reach out and assist the victims of today’s crucifixions – the poor and the marginal, victims and refugees of war and violence, trafficked persons and others in desperate situations who don’t know where to turn – that, through our services, we at Catholic Charities seek to assist not only on Good Friday, but every day.”

Sandy Recovery: So Much Going On You Need a Road Map

Friday, November 30th, 2012

By Alice Kenny

After Hurricane Sandy tore through Staten Island, visits to this, the least populated and accessible of all New York City’s five boroughs, have multiplied in ways not seen since the Verrazano Narrows Bridge connected it to the rest of the city

“There is so much going on at the same time that you need a road map,” said Joe Panepinto, who, as director of Catholic Charities Staten Island Services is helping lead the hurricane recovery response.

Yesterday, US Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis flew in from Washington DC to visit with day laborers who are assisted by Catholic Charities and have been active in hurricane cleanup efforts. Mayor Michael Bloomberg drove over from Manhattan to announce interim property tax relief for storm-battered homeowners at the Staten Island Disaster Relief Center manned by Catholic Charities staff and others every day, Monday through Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.  And Staten Island Borough President Guy Molinari along with FEMA hosted a town hall meeting attended by Catholic Charities staff and packed by residents still reeling from the super storm.

Now as the immediate shock from Sandy’s devastation lessons, government leaders, local residents, Catholic Charities, parishes and communities are rolling up their sleeves to focus on the difficult issue of ensuring long-term recovery.  Catholic Charities is manning the front lines.

Want more information? Contact us at cccontactus@archny.org.

People come to Catholic Charities to learn what can be done fast and what can be done now.

Friday, November 16th, 2012

By Alice Kenny

More than 400,000 people whose homes were damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy are lining up for help with the federal FEMA program, the local New York City Rapid Repair program and other first responders.  They come to Catholic Charities to find out what can be done fast and what can be done now, said Michelle LaVignera, director of Staten Island Social Services for Catholic Charities, who, along with staff and volunteers, is helping them navigate the process.

In Staten Island, one of the hardest-hit areas by the super storm, Catholic Charities set up an information booth at the New York City Restoration Center at 1976 Highland Blvd, a main hub established so that hurricane victims can get services and support from first responders at a single site.

Catholic Charities is also offering food and supplies through its mobile food pantry and information and support at the Staten Island Catholic Charities agency MIV / Mt. Loreto.  And now, as temperatures drop and mold becomes an increasing concern, Catholic Charities is obtaining infrared heaters to distribute among those in need.

“Our main focus now is serving people in crisis,” Ms. LaVignera said.  “But we are also planning for the future.  Since we are an agency with locations in Staten Island we will be here long term.”

Remembering 9-11

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Tragedies and disasters take a horrible toll on those impacted.
In addition, they provide the opportunity for great compassion and solidarity.
Catholic Charities was privileged to help thousands of New Yorkers of all religions affected by 9/11.
The long term impact of that assistance in helping families to rebuild their lives continues to this day.
Our prayers remain with those victims and also for a world in which such acts of terrorism are no more.

Best Regards,
Msgr. Kevin Sullivan

Our (Invisibly) Homeless Neighbors

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012

By Marianna Reilly

Photo from the New York Times

February 7, 2012 — Think you know who the homeless are? You might be surprised by the New York Times special feature on the “invisible homeless.” They don’t live on the streets, or in doorways – they are families enduring a day-to-day reality that often includes hours-long subway commutes, day care, food pantries and shelters.

In our community, there are a staggering 40,000 homeless children and adults currently living in shelters. This is an all-time high for New York, and—picture this—enough to fill the stands in Citi Field.

You probably see these individuals every day without even knowing they are homeless. They turn to shelters because of unemployment, loss of income, eviction or domestic violence. Some work multiple jobs and long hours but still remain entrenched below the poverty line.

The Times describes these families, which make up three quarters of New York’s homeless shelter population, as “cloaked in a deceptive, superficial normalcy”:

“They do not sleep outside or on cots on armory floors. By and large, their shoes are good; some have smartphones. Many get up each morning and leave the shelter to go to work or to school. Their hardships — poverty, unemployment, a marathon commute — exist out of sight.”

 In the past few years, local charities have seen the need for eviction prevention assistance and other housing related services increase dramatically. In the 2011 year, Catholic Charities prevented eviction for more than 4,800 families, and helped an additional 17,000 families find emergency shelter, transitional housing or permanent affordable housing.

Learn more about Catholic Charities services for those in danger of homelessness, and contact us for help.

What I Discovered in the Bronx During New York’s Homelessness Survey

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

By Richard Bertin

February 1, 2012 — On the night of Monday, January 30, I took part in NYC’s 10th annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate (HOPE) — a citywide survey administered by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and dependent upon thousands of volunteers to count the homeless found in public spaces. I had mixed feelings in the days leading up to this volunteer project, but when I returned home, at around 4am, I brought back with me a profound sense of gratitude for everyday things that many take for granted.

This year, the volunteer team from Catholic Charities New York was dedicated to the Bronx. Along with hundreds of fellow volunteers, we gathered at one of two sites — Lehman College or PS/IS 194. I chose Lehman College since it was closest to my apartment and because of my familiarity with the area. After being rounded up into “teams” and receiving a detailed training session from DHS reps, we were given neighborhood walking maps and finally set off into the night at half past midnight.

My team was assigned the Riverdale section of the Bronx, an affluent enclave known more for its beauty than its homeless population. My teammates and I were a bit puzzled over this assignment but still took our orders seriously.

The eight of us resembled a civic-minded variation of “The Apprentice,” as we spent the first 30 minutes trying to determine who had the best strategy for canvassing the 10-block radius of sidewalks and alleys. My team was composed of very different and colorful characters, each passionate about the HOPE project. There was Willy B., a large, affable man who talked about how he “does this for a living” each night for a local homeless shelter named The Living Room; Allison, a young off-duty police officer who came all the way from upstate to take part in the survey; Netti, an older Turkish cab driver who was our best “wheel-man”, and many others I will not forget.

Our first area was the most difficult. A Google Map print out with arrows pointing us into different walking directions served as our guide. By the time we got to our location it was after 1am. In such a quiet, secluded area, we were the only souls moving around the stillness of the neighborhood. It was so quiet that someone opened their window and shouted at us “Shut up already! It’s almost two in the morning!” I shot back, “Sorry Sir; we are on official city business here!”  After an hour-long search of the area, we moved on to the second and third maps.

Truth be told, I learned more about homelessness from my team members than anything else. Willy B. explained to me the crucial importance of affordable housing, since many people often don’t realize they are only one pay check or illness away from homelessness. Allison shared stories of “code blue” nights, when police officers perform rescue missions to save those stranded on the streets during life-threatening frigid temperatures and snowstorms.

These stories and these people are what will stick with me most from the evening of HOPE.

As we roamed from sidewalk to sidewalk, alley to alley, and bench to bench, we didn’t find anyone. If we did, we were instructed by DHS to ask them the questions of the survey and ultimately direct them towards a nearby shelter. I didn’t think this was the most accurate method for determining the homeless population, but HOPE is designed to be more of a homeless program evaluation method than a census.

Similar to the infamous “mystery shoppers” that anyone who has ever worked retail is familiar with, the HOPE survey serves as a snapshot to determine how well New York Homeless Services is doing in keeping people off the street.

By 3:30am we were finished but hadn’t found any homeless in our assigned areas. With the exception of a stray alley cat, our tours indicated that Riverdale doesn’t seem to have any homeless problems.  When we returned to Lehman College we found out that most teams, 10 in total, had similar results.

I did wonder – what would these results look like on a warmer night?

As New Yorkers, we are familiar with homelessness. We see it as we bustle through the sidewalks on our way to work. We ignore it when we burry our heads into our tablets on the train while someone pleads with an entire subway car for help.  It’s just one of those harsh realities of living here that we come face to face with each day and yet manage to keep from intruding on our lives. As we roamed the streets, I couldn’t help but think about my warm bed waiting for me. When I finally got back home and dove head first into my mattress I thought how fortunate I was to have this luxury.