Posts Tagged ‘New York City’

A Manhattan Pilgrimage in What Some Call the City of Sin?

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

By Alice Kenny

A Manhattan pilgrimage in what some call the City of Sin?  You got it.

Carrying wooden crosses, young Catholics sloshed down snow-covered sidewalks and stood in sun-filled pews on Saturday, March 21, 2015 as they participated in the Pilgrimage of New York cosponsored by Catholic Charities Junior Board.

Sure, for centuries pilgrims have toured and prayed in places known as the home of saints – the Holy Land, Rome, and Fatima, for instance.  But this weekend marked the sixth annual pilgrimage in New York City.

This year’s pilgrimage honored Saint Joseph, foster father of Jesus.  So the dozens of participating “pilgrims” hiked from northern to southern Manhattan from morning to night hearing sermons and visiting churches named after Jesus’ foster father – Saint Joseph Church on Monroe Street, the Church of Saint Joseph of the Holy Family and more.

Check out our Junior Board Facebook page for photos and comments.

New York City’s Municipal ID Is a Good for New Yorkers and Good for the City

Thursday, February 12th, 2015

The premier Spanish-language newspaper, El Diario, turns to Catholic Charities Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services C. Mario Russell for regular updates on immigration reform. 

By C. Mario Russell

The week before last, New York City joined with the growing number of cities and communities–like Hartford, Connecticut, San Francisco, California, and, as just announced this week in Newark, New Jersey —a plan that will explore offering all their citizens, residents, and members a municipal identity card. This is something to celebrate as good for city residents and good for our city.

There are about 500,000 undocumented mothers, fathers, and children who live, work, and go to school in New York City. Each day they seek the basics: steady employment, a stable family, hope for the future, and security. For the most part they are unseen and unheard. But, like silent generations of immigrants before them, each day they bring new life to this city whose economic and cultural achievements we take such pride in. Each day they contribute to its magnificent legacy.

The new ID will give these New Yorkers a chance to run their day-to-day lives a little more easily. This is good for everyone. With these IDs people will be able to cash checks, open a bank or credit account, sign a lease, and enter public buildings. Parents will be able to access public schools for parent-teacher conferences. They won’t have to worry about being turned away from visiting their child in a hospital. These are not extravagant rights for the undocumented. Moreover, these municipal IDs make work easier for everyone else including teachers, merchants, and professionals.

One of the most important life-improvements that comes with the ID is legal identification in case of a law enforcement stop, such as an arrest.  When someone is questioned by the police, an officer will often ask to know who the person is. The card makes it easier for that identity check to happen in real-time and the encounter terminates there. Again, not an extravagant right, but it makes work easier for the police and protects people.

As was said by one long-time undocumented resident, “I’m basically invisible in this city without proper identification. My husband and I work hard every day; we have children and the security that something as simple as an ID card will give us cannot be overstated.” This is not an extravagant request; just a basic wish we all share and will benefit from.

Read this recent post in Spanish in “El Diario” now.


C. Mario Russell is Senior Attorney and Director of Immigrant and Refugee Services at Catholic Charities, 80 Maiden Lane, NY, NY 10038. He teaches immigration law at St. John’s University School of Law.

“We Don’t Give Up”

Friday, January 30th, 2015
(L-R) Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn, and Valeriya Osipova

(L-R) Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn, and Valeriya Osipova

By Alice Kenny

New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), the not-for-profit operator of the Sandy Unmet Needs Roundtable that provides private disaster-support funding source of last resort, named Catholic Charities NY its Partner of the Year.  It also honored three of our Staten Island disaster case managers, Jeanne Marshall, Evelyn Wilburn and Valeriya Osipova, for their extraordinary work helping Hurricane Sandy survivors recover.

“We don’t give up,” says Catholic Charities Staten Island Disaster Case Management  Program Manager Amy Silverman, explaining how Catholic Charities earned the awards.

Catholic Charities disaster case managers worked first with federal, state and local government as well as private funding sources to help Hurricane Sandy survivors.  But nearly all of these resources, from FEMA to the Red Cross to insurance carriers, have now completed their work.  The Unmet Needs Roundtables, operated throughout the city by NYDIS, responds to the significant need that remains.

Nursing Home Aid Cherri Puma, for example, needed to quickly restore her Hurricane Sandy destroyed Staten Island home to could care for her wheelchair-bound nonverbal daughter. So she took out loans and put bills on credit to cover the more than $100,000 reconstruction cost.  Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager Jeanne Marshall worked with traditional funding sources to recoup the costs.  When they fell short, she presented Ms. Puma’s case to NYDIS, ultimately scoring the remaining $22,000 Ms. Puma needed to pay her home reconstruction debt and obtain needed furniture and appliances.

“Jeanne will go to bat for her clients and won’t let up until the work is done,” Ms. Silverman says.

She shares this tenacity with fellow “Tenacity Award” honoree Valeriya Osipova.

“Valeriya will fight for her clients until they get what they need,” Ms. Silverman says.

They also share it with Evelyn Wilburn, who was awarded “Top DCM Unmet Needs Roundtable Presenter” for getting NYDIS awards for 20 of her clients. “Evelyn is organized and methodical, going through each case point by point so she is able to present cases regularly, and get them funded.”

In fact, all 91 cases with unmet Sandy recovery needs that were presented by Catholic Charities disaster case managers received awards from NYDIS and dozens more are pending.

“They win by being methodical, tenacious, knowing their cases inside out and getting their clients the help they deserve,” Ms. Silverman says.

By bestowing this award on Catholic Charities, Archdiocese of New York, NYDIS was also acknowledging the work of Catholic Charities in directing the New York State Disaster Case Management Program.  This program provides disaster case managers to families in 13 New York State counties who were impacted by Superstorm Sandy.  With 200 case managers in 17 agencies, this program plays an essential partnership role with private funders such as the Unmet Need Roundtables in New York City, Long Island, and the upstate counties.  According to Helene Lauffer, Catholic Charities’ director of the New York State Disaster Case Management Program, “private funders rely upon disaster case managers to prepare, vet, and present cases for consideration at the unmet needs roundtables.  Through this process, and the partnership with NYDIS, disaster case managers have been able to secure funds to bring hundreds, if not thousands of clients back to stability and self-sufficiency.” 

Check out this Facebook photo album shot at the awards ceremony.

Safety Tips for Today’s Blizzard

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

As Winter Storm Juno cripples commerce and paralyzes traffic, Catholic Charities urges you to:

  • Stay home
  • Stay in
  • Stay safe
  • And watch out for your neighbors

Catholic Charities echoes the warnings of NY State Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio who declared a state of emergency throughout the New York Archdiocese including New York City, Rockland, Suffolk, Ulster and Westchester counties.

They closed commuter rail lines and forbid driving on roads.

Meanwhile, outreach workers are fanning out to bring into shelter anyone exposed to the storm.

  • Help by calling 311 if you spot someone in need
  • Call 911 if you are in immediate danger
  • Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors
  • Help those who need special assistance, including seniors and persons with disabilities

Click for the latest on subways, trains, buses, roads and rail lines.

Click for severe weather updates.

As Sandy Recovery Stalls, Wall Street Journal Interviews Msgr. Sullivan for Solutions

Monday, April 21st, 2014

By Alice Kenny

_DSC1063In the Wall Street Journal’s recent series uncovering shortcomings in New York City’s Sandy recovery programs, Reporter Michael Howard Saul turned to Msgr. Kevin Sullivan for insight. Frustrated Hurricane Sandy storm victims and elected officials, Mr. Saul reports, say City Hall has been heavy on promises and short on results.

“Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, which is helping storm victims, said homeowners’ recovery efforts ‘have been made even more challenging by layers of red tape brought on by the multiple layers of government agencies involved in the process.'”

To counter this morass, Mayor Bill de Blasio told the Wall Street Journal that his recently appointed administration has been working “day and night to hack through the red tape.”

Meanwhile, Catholic Charities continues to help Sandy victims recover.  From the time Hurricane Sandy pounded New York, Catholic Charities has been providing disaster relief to those who need it. 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 has responded to meet the human needs of the victims, providing help and creating hope for rebuilding lives.

The New York State Disaster Case Management Program run by Catholic Charities has provided information, referral and disaster case management to nearly 22,000 households.

“Families and homeowners who are rebuilding from the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy are still facing a complex and long-term recovery,” Msgr. Sullivan said.  “Our long-term case management for these families is critical to navigating some of the unintended consequences that arise such as potentially higher tax bills on their property that they did not anticipate.”

Are you struggling to recover from Superstorm Sandy?

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

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.


  • 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


  • Call 311 or enter your address in the Cooling Center Finder on
  • 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


  •  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.


 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.


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

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.”