Posts Tagged ‘poverty’

Celebrating the Americans With Disabilities Act

Monday, July 29th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities celebrates the anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act signed into law 23 years ago last week. It protects millions of persons with physical and emotional challenges across the United States. It prohibits discrimination and helps to enforce fair laws for the disabled across America.

The senior adjusting to recent blindness, the developmentally disabled child, and the emotionally challenged adult need the intensive care and support provided by Catholic Charities to live with dignity and in safety. Through a network of specialized services, Catholic Charities cares compassionately for the most vulnerable New Yorkers – non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

Click on an individual service to learn more:

Supportive Housing for the Mentally IllResidences for Special Needs • Early Intervention and Special EducationCaregiver Respite Adaptive Services for Deaf and Blind

According to the 2010 Census Data, 56.7 million people in the United States live with a disability, including half of all individuals over 65. Of those under the age of 65, only 1 in 3 are employed. And 23% of those with a disability live in poverty. By comparison, the poverty rate for those without a disability is 15%.

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Summer Means Hunger for New York Children When Schools’ Free Lunch Programs Close

Friday, June 14th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Hunger hurts.  During the summer months hunger hits low-income children particularly hard.

In response, this has been proclaimed National Summer Food Service Program Week, a time to draw attention to concerns that low-income school children may go hungry as their school lunch programs close for summer break.

Throughout New York children’s stomachs are rumbling.  The economic downturn and slow recovery have taken a particularly harsh toll on them, with more than one in four children under age 18 living in poverty without enough to eat, according to an analysis by the Center for Economic Opportunity.  Meanwhile, with cuts in government spending, supplies at food pantries and soup kitchens are running out.

“When school is out during the summer months, many families struggle to feed their children even one nutritious meal a day,” said U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.  “Government cannot address this challenge alone.”

New York City will serve free breakfast and lunch at hundreds of public schools, parks, pools, and other sites from June 27 through August 30, 2013.  Click here for more information. However, the program, is available on weekdays only.

In every season and every day throughout the year, Catholic Charities meets the needs of the poor and vulnerable throughout the Archdiocese of New York.

Help us feed a hungry child today.

Donate now.

Pope Francis: A Home Run for Catholic Charities.

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

Presidência da Republica/Roberto Stuckert Filho

By Alice Kenny

On the eve of Pope Francis’ inauguration, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan went live in a special radio broadcast of JustLove taking in listener calls from across the nation as he reflected on what the election of Pope Francis means for Catholics around the world.

“The election of Pope Francis has focused on the vitality of the Church when we focus on the basics of our faith.” Msgr. Sullivan said. “There is no better time than Holy Week when we celebrate the center of the Catholic faith: death and resurrection of Jesus. We begin these holy days with the example of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples. ”

From New York to Alabama and spots in between, callers, young and old, phoned to register their excitement about Pope Francis and, in particular, his emphasis on serving those in need.

“I’m thrilled that Pope Francis is focused on service to the poor and to outreach to all people,” said Steve, a caller from New Jersey.

Catholic Charities Director of Peace and Justice Tom Dobbins, who co-hosted the show, agreed.

“When he came out saying he wants us to be a church of the poor for the poor,” Tom said, “wow – as someone who works for Catholic Charities – that was a home run.”

Listen to their conversation on JustLove  on The Catholic Channel 129, SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio.

Interfaith Hunger Summit Calls New Yorkers to Action to Fight Hunger

Friday, December 28th, 2012

By Alice Kenny

In New York City, one in five adults and one in four children don’t get enough food. On December 20th, the New York City Interfaith Hunger Summit brought together faith leaders, congregants and concerned New Yorkers from a diverse cross-section to discuss ways to take action to lessen hunger and poverty in our community.

Regardless of a person’s religion, our faith and beliefs call us to serve the poor and help our neighbors. The Interfaith Hunger Summit was organized to promote concrete solutions and develop a “call to action” which asked “elected officials to create jobs and reduce poverty, strengthen the social safety net, and make healthier food more available and affordable in low-income neighborhoods.”

Along with other faith leaders, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities New York, spoke at the summit. He discussed the importance of enabling people to have the food they need in their own homes, as well as the necessity and lasting effects of children under the age of three getting sufficient food.

While the summit was a start, Monsignor Sullivan noted that the conversation needs to expand to the rest of the community to promote meaningful action, and that food, not hunger, should become part of the debate.

To contribute to the Archdiocesan-wide campaign to replenish food pantries, donate to or volunteer for Feeding Our Neighbors and help ensure no hungry neighbor gets turned away.

Rockland County Community Garden Provides Healthy Food for the Hungry

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

View more photos of the Blessing of the Soil and the Youth Art Show on Facebook. http://on.fb.me/Kuaosj

There is something special growing in Rockland County. Catholic Charities Community Services of Rockland (CCSR) is making it possible for the local community to take advantage of fresh, healthy produce grown on-site at the agency’s community garden, named the “Garden of Love.”

For the third year in a row, the growing season was kicked off with hunger awareness art exhibition and a “Blessing of the Soil” ceremony. The ceremony celebrated CCSR’s successful efforts to raise community awareness of hunger and the need to build an integrated, sustainable, and cost-effective response.

Monsignor J. Weber, vicar of Rockland County, was joined by Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities, and Michael Kohut, mayor of Haverstraw. Head chefs from local restaurants, including Guarino’s, Ditto, Union Restaurant, La Hacienda de Manuel, Antoine’s, McGuire’s, and others presented cooking demonstrations focusing on healthy eating and the use of vegetables as ingredients and main courses.

The Youth Hunger Awareness Artwork Project displayed artwork by Rockland County youth focused on the theme of hunger. The public got the chance to learn about the preparation of vegetarian cuisine, meet the young artists and their instructors and learn about the growing problem of hunger in America.

Hear the Voices of Help and Hope

Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

Hear stories of hope — directly from just a few of the people whom Catholic Charities has helped over the past year. This short film premiered at our Annual Gala Benefit on March 21, 2012 in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf=Astoria.

This year’s gala was a record-breaker in terms of both fundraising and attendance. Nearly 1,000 guests helped to raise more than $2.5 million to provide help and create hope in the lives of our neighbors in need.

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.

New York Archdiocese Joins Forces to Feed Our Neighbors

Friday, January 20th, 2012

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By Marianna Reilly

January 20, 2012 — From January 22 through January 29, organizations throughout the Archdiocese of New York will join forces to help address the hunger crisis in our community. The Feeding Our Neighbors campaign is a unified response to Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan’s call to “feed the hungry in the name of Jesus,” ensuring that none of our neighbors are turned away when they look to the church for help. Learn more and join the campaign today.

Join the fight against hunger. Tell us what you will be contributing to our Archdiocesan-wide drive on Facebook.

Looking for ideas? Check out this guide to food donations:

The Archdiocese of New York network needs these nutritious foods:

Vegetables

  • Canned Vegetables
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Vegetable Soups
Fruits

  • Canned Fruits (in juice or light syrup)
  • Dried Fruits
  • 100% Fruit Juices
Proteins

  • Beans- canned or dry
  • Peanut Butter
  • Nuts
  • Canned Meat (chicken, beef, ham)
  • Canned Fish (tuna, salmon, sardines)
  • Canned Stews (chicken or beef)
Grains

  • Rice (white, brown, flavored)
  • Pasta/noodles
  • Dry Cereal and Hot Cereal (grits, oatmeal, farina)
  • Flour/Cornmeal/Baking Mixes
  • Whole Wheat Crackers
  • Couscous
Dairy

  • Dry Milk packets
  • Shelf stable milk
  • Soy/Almond/Rice Milk
Other Items

  • Nutritional Beverages (Boost, Ensure, Carnation Instant Breakfast)
  • Spices
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Personal Care Items

To ensure safety, we cannot use:

  • Rusty or Unlabeled Cans
  • Avoid glass containers and all perishable foods
  • Homemade Items
  • Noncommercial Canned Items
  • Noncommercial Packaged Items
  • Alcoholic Beverages & Mixes
  • Open or Used Items

Increase in Hunger Leads to Overcrowding at New York Job Centers

Tuesday, January 10th, 2012

Nearly 35% of children in the Bronx are going hungry.

By Marianna Reilly

The increase in hunger in our community is leading to a serious overcrowding problem at New York City job centers, reports the Wall Street Journal in the January 3 article, “Welfare Lines Overflow.”

Because many job centers are located in facilities that also provide public assistance benefits like food stamps, and because some of these facilities have been consolidated, it appears that the number of individuals seeking assistance is becoming too large for many centers to manage.

The influx in individuals seeking food stamps to job centers creates lines that are so long and crowds that are so large that many clients are forced to wait outside hours before doors open, just for a chance to be seen, or get to an appointment on time.

The danger, the article says, is that people will opt not receive critically-needed benefits in order to avoid the frustration of long waits. This might already be happening, since records show that the number of food-stamp recipients dropped by 13,000 people in November 2011.

The Journal writes that Speaker Christine Quinn plans to call for hearings to examine the decrease because other indicators—the unemployment rate and food-stamp enrollment statewide—don’t reflect an improvement in the economy.

In the past two years, the number of New Yorkers receiving food stamps has increased by 200,000 – a reality we’ve seen firsthand at Catholic Charities.

As we try to do as much as we can to help those in need, we are reminded that it is our calling and our responsibility as Catholics to help those who have nowhere else to turn.

We also have to ensure that administrative hurdles don’t restrict public assistance from flowing to those in our community who need it most. At a time when so many are facing prolonged unemployment and an unpromising job market, our neighbors need all the help we can provide.