Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Immigrant Daughter’s Tearful Journey from Guatemala to N.J. Ends with Dad’s Hug

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014

Tyson Trish/Staff Photographer

BY MONSY ALVARADO

STAFF WRITER

THE RECORD

The last time she saw her father was more than four years ago when he bid her farewell for better job opportunities in the United States. On Thursday, 14-year-old Elizita hugged her father tight at Newark Liberty International Airport as tears rolled down both their cheeks…

Whether Elizita will be allowed to stay in the country, and for how long, will depend on the immigration courts and what sort of relief she will pursue to stay. For example, some children seek asylum and must prove why they would be eligible for that status.

The reunion is one of thousands that have occurred in airports across the country since a surge of unaccompanied minors have entered the country illegally through the southwest border.

According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 57,000 unaccompanied children who crossed the border were apprehended by authorities from October 2013 through June 2014. The influx of illegal crossers who are minors has led to a debate as to what the country should do with them and whether they should be sent back home, or be allowed to stay.

Meanwhile, in Newark on Thursday several leaders of community organizations that work with immigrants and members of local churches gathered to figure out ways they can help the newly arrived children being held in temporary shelters who don’t have family in the country and are in need sponsors.

Many of the children, mostly from Central America, are fleeing their countries due to violence, poverty and to join a parent in the United States.

“These kids are really fleeing very real violence,” said Morgan Alen-Schouten, a guest speaker at the event who is a staff attorney in the Unaccompanied Minors Program at Catholic Charities Community Services of the Archdiocese of New York and who said she had met with more than 15 children in the last week. “These kids are fleeing the equivalent of war zones, some very violent places.”

Read the full story in The Record.

Expedited Immigration Hearings in NYC for Minors

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

A federal immigration court in Manhattan that usually deals with fewer than 100 new children’s cases a month is getting a lot busier, reports the Wall Street Journal.

Twenty-nine minors who entered the country unaccompanied by adults appeared Wednesday before Judge James Loprest, Jr., some with attorneys, others with family by their sides. Six-year-old Gabriela and her brother Brandon Lopez, 15, were among the minors hoping to be allowed to legally stay with family already living in the U.S.

The siblings participated in the first day of surge docket hearings at federal immigration court. The “surge docket” is an initiative by the federal government to help expedite the legal process for the more than 57,000 unaccompanied minors who have been processed into the system since October.

The minors are fleeing poverty, gang-violence and death, say advocates from the New York chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.

AILA is one of five groups handling unaccompanied minor cases. The others are the Legal Aid Society and nonprofits Catholic Charities, Safe Passage, and The Door. The groups have been preparing for a surge in cases since they learned 3, 347 unaccompanied minors had arrived in the state since January. New York is second to Texas with the most cases.

Gabriela and Brandon needed to leave their home country to get away from extortionists, said their father, 35-year-old Emerson Lopez.

“I began to hear rumors that they were going start charging rent for each head,” Lopez said, referring to his children.

“In my home country, they call them ‘heads.’ They treat people as if they are cattle, and that’s when my wife and I made the decision to send for them,” he said.

Read the full story in the Wall Street Journal.

Find out more about the help Catholic Charities provides in the Latin Post.

Giving Ex-Offenders a Second Chance

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

By Alice KennyATI & Families Shared Meal Time

The Catholic Charities federation of 90 agencies provides a wide range of human services throughout the Archdiocese of New York. Some are sponsored by religious communities, while others have grown from parish communities. Still others were founded by charismatic clergy, religious, or lay leaders. Together they form the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York: a federation of administered, sponsored and affiliated agencies touching almost every human need.

This summer offers a great time to spotlight their impressive histories and the unique, unparalleled services they offer.  Today, let’s learn about Abraham House.

This Catholic Charities sponsored agency traces its origins to two Roman Catholic clergy, Sr. Simone Ponnet, a Belgian nun of the Little Sisters of the Gospel order and Fr. Peter Raphael, a French priest who volunteered as a chaplain and celebrated mass with inmates at Rikers Island maximum-security prison.

Alarmed by the continuing cycle of repeat offenders, they founded Abraham House in 1993. Located in the Mott Haven neighborhood of the South Bronx, Abraham House offers the incarcerated, ex-offenders and their relatives, regardless of their religion, a place of hope and community where lives can be rebuilt, families mended, lessons learned, and men, women and children deeply marked by crime can receive the spiritual, social and practical tools to become productive citizens.

Their innovative programs include an alternative-to-incarceration program for first-time offenders, especially those convicted of nonviolent crimes. Sponsored by the Catholic Charities Alliance, Abraham House offers extensive services to hundreds of adults and children affected by incarceration or other social factors like poverty, violence and truancy.

Find out more.

Catholic Charities Joins Forces with Fellow Faith Leaders to Fight Poverty

Friday, May 16th, 2014
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Joshua Scott – FPWA Images

“For the first time, three religious charity umbrella groups in New York are joining forces to study government policies and programs designed to help people living in poverty in the hopes of finding better solutions to the problem and helping really change lives,” reports Theresa Agovino in Crain’s New York yesterday May 15, 2014.

Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, and the UJA Federation of New York have worked on jointly providing services over the years, but their latest endeavor is taking a new turn. Two months ago, the trio tapped the Urban Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based social and economic and policy research group, to review various government poverty programs, with an emphasis on city programs, to learn more about what is effective. They paid $125,000 for the study and hope to have results in two months. The executive said that it was still too soon to say how they would use the results of the study because they aren’t sure what it will uncover.

Together the groups have a network of more than 400 nonprofits that offer a wide range of services including providing food, housing and job training to a total of nearly six million people. Many of those nonprofits receive city funding and work with government agencies on various programs.

‘We may have different theologies, but we each share the tradition of feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and housing the homeless,’ said John Ruskay, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the UJA.

Despite all of the good works these groups and others provide, poverty in the city remains stubbornly high. The poverty rate in New York City was essentially unchanged at 21% from 2010 to 2012, but that’s up from 19% in 2008, according to the New York City’s Center for Economic Opportunity, which works to fight poverty.

‘We want to see how we can change the outcomes,’ said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities. ‘Maybe certain programs need to be scaled up or offered together. How can we do better?’

Jennifer Jones Austin, chief executive officer and executive director of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, said she heard about a similar study being conducted in Wisconsin and thought it would be a good idea to create one for the city to help inform public policy. She opted to reach out to her counterparts to amplify her voice.

‘We are all distinguished and respected in our own rights,’ said Ms. Jones Austin, who served as co-chair of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s transition team along with Carl Weisbrod. ‘I believe that with the three of us people will be really listening at city hall.’

It is unacceptable in our wealthy city and nation that one out of five New Yorkers now lives below the poverty line, scrambling to feed and house their hungry children.

“Poverty and its effects afflicts too many of our neighbors in New York,” Msgr. Sullivan said as he discussed this interfaith initiative.

“I look forward to reporting back to you on the Urban Institute’s findings. This study will hopefully serve to enhance our work and our impact on those most in need.”

Follow us here on Facebook and Twitter to stay abreast of the latest findings.

Read the full story here in Crain’s New York.

Struggling Teens Explore Careers in Engineering

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Teens from Washington Heights, where per–capita income is half the New York average, balanced on scaffolding, learned the rudiments of how to build a high rise that won’t fall down and took their first steps towards becoming engineers at Liberty Science Center last Saturday, April 19, 2014.

The event, hosted by Catholic Charities Alianza Division and sponsored by the Society of Hispanic Professionals in Engineering, was designed to motivate minority students to explore the possibility of pursuing careers in engineering. Students from the High School for Media and Communications GPS program – short for Graduate, Prepare and Succeed – that participate in Catholic Charities’ Alianza Dominicana were bused from Washington Heights to the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City. There they met with engineering professionals who answered questions and peeked students’ curiosity as they explored the 300,000 square foot learning center.

Next up for these students is Engineering Day on Saturday, May 10. Also held also at the Liberty Science Center, teens will team up to build their own machines. These engineering immersion experiences fit the mission of Catholic Charities Alianza Dominicana, to assist children, youth and families break the cycle of poverty and fulfill their potential as members of the global economy.

March Is Social Work Month

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

March is Social Work Month, a time to recognize and honor social workers who provide help, create hope and help rebuild lives.

At Catholic Charities we are fortunate to have great social workers, case managers and other leaders dedicated to solving the problems of New Yorker’s in need.

On what we are calling “Social Work Wednesday” we invite you to meet this week another of our case workers, learn about what she does and see why she finds her career rewarding.

Nancy Cabrera – MSW

Q: How long have you worked in the field of social work?

A: I’ve worked in this field for 20 years.

Q: What does “social work” mean to you?

A: Social Work means to me to advocate, empower, empathize and fight indifferences.

Q: What do you like most about your career?

A: What I like most about my career is the satisfaction of making a difference in people’s life.

 

March Is Social Work Month

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

March is Social Work Month, a time to recognize and honor those social workers who help make a difference in people’s lives.

At Catholic Charities we are fortunate to have many compassionate employees, including social workers  and case managers dedicated to providing hope to New Yorkers in need.

On what we are calling “Social Work Wednesday” we invite you to meet some of our case workers, learn about what they do and see why they find their careers rewarding.

 

Milagros Nolasco – Senior Case Manager

Q: How long have you worked in the field of social work?

A: I’ve been working in this field for about 10 years.  

Q: What does “social work” mean to you?

A: I could define social work in so many ways. Yet, most significant is being empathetic towards others’ needs. It’s providing services to the less fortunate and by this I’m not only referring to the poverty level but also to those other needs that remain such as the social environment, empowering individuals to reach out or connect with needed services, helping our client’s become aware of their situations and how to deal with them. Overall, social work involves having the empathy & devotion to assist individuals in need and more so helping stop the injustice which many times takes place within this society. 

Q: What do you like most about your career?

A: What I like most about my career is being able to assist individuals in accomplishing their goals or in many cases just being able to plant that seed of hope or expectation in an individual that’s not feeling too good.   

 

 

One-Legged Dad & Deaf Son Refuse to Let Disabilities Define Them

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Jose Arias did not curse fate when, at age 7, a car side swiped the car where he sat on a road in his native Dominican Republic and tore off his entire right leg. And he did not curse fate when his four-year-old son was diagnosed as deaf.

Instead he took any job he could get from cleaning cars to painting houses in Puerto Rico.  He and his son received legal U.S. permanent residence there nearly 20 years ago.

He also did all he could to help his son work hard as he did to overcome his own disability.  During school semesters, he sent the younger Jose to a school for the deaf in their native Dominican Republic because the school offered him a scholarship and a superior education than similar schools in Puerto Rico.  And during holidays and the summer months, he reinforced with his son the value of working hard to move beyond their life of poverty.

But when the U.S immigration authorities incorrectly took away young Jose’s green card in July 2011, Mr. Arias and his son did not accept this as fate.  Instead, for more than two years they fought back, hobbling from street to street and office to office speaking in Spanish, broken English and sign language to reverse this erroneous immigration decision.

Finally, thanks to free legal support supplied by Catholic Charities, an immigration judge completely reversed the flawed 2011 decision on October 24, 2013.  Now that Jose del Carmen is acknowledged once again as a lawful permanent U.S. resident he plans to complete studies to become a computer technician and land a job that will enable him to support his father as well.

Read their story in The New York Times.

Growing Up Among Addicts & Gangs,Teen Finds Help

Friday, November 22nd, 2013

By Alice Kenny

The journey from home to school is an effortless walk for Xavier Cruz, 14, who just strolls around the corner and down the block. But considering where he is going, he may as well be traveling to another world.

Since the sixth grade, Xavier has attended St. Ignatius School, an educational oasis in Hunts Point, a Bronx neighborhood known for rampant crime and grinding poverty.

Now, thanks to the school’s and Catholic Charities’ intervention, Xavier sidesteps the gangs that surround him. Instead he prepares for high school, then college and finally, he says, a career in computer technology to help him pull his family from these streets.

Read Xavier’s profile in today’s New York Times.

 

 

 

 

 

Series of College Tours Inspires Students to Achieve

Monday, August 19th, 2013

By Ben Ros

“I found a college that I will be comfortable attending. The visit to Ithaca College makesme want to continue working harder, and focus on taking more challenging courses in my school. I will definitely start taking my priorities more seriously.”

—Yeury Amarante, HS for Media & Communications

July 22, promptly at 6 a.m., students from HS for Media & Communications and Innovation Diploma Plus (IDP) High School gathered at George Washington High School and departed for a two day tour of Skidmore College, Syracuse University, Ithaca College, and SUNY Cortland. Catholic Charities Alianza Division initially contacted parents about the upstate tour, stressing the importance of higher education as a means of breaking the cycle of poverty.

Alianza is a division of Catholic Charities that provides comprehensive community support through a number of programs spanning from domestic violence assistance to immigrant advocacy — and at a time when the New York Times reports that elite colleges are lagging in their efforts to recruit students from financially challenged backgrounds, Alianza is rising to the challenge.

Students from IDP and HS for Media & Communications have been to Alianza-coordinated college fairs and career days before as part of the program’s larger mission to encourage youth to finish school and think about their future. Seeing the actual campuses, however, they were able to picture themselves going to college in a way that fairs and brochures simply can’t emulate.

“Attending this trip gave me the opportunity to meet new people and to look beyond my expectations. I did not think that college was for me, but now I know that I have the potential to enroll in college and major in my area of interest, which is music.”

— Steven Arias, Innovation Diploma HS.

For more information on the good work that Alianza does visit their website alianzaonline.org.