Posts Tagged ‘Staten Island’

Six Reasons Cardinal Dolan Blessed Our Immigrant & Refugee Services

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

In a special event held to bless our work with new immigrants and the central site where this work is carried out, Cardinal Timothy Dolan met, greeted and blessed staff, new immigrants and the Catholic Charities Immigrant and Refugee Services Division at its new location at 80 Maiden Lane yesterday, March 18.

The Division relocated to this downtown Manhattan site in December 2013 to accommodate Catholic Charities’ growing immigration services that respond to the expanding needs of this community. This new location — located near immigration courts, the USCIS office, colleague agencies and a transportation hub for those seeking our assistance from all parts of New York City — has proven ideal for clients and staff alike.

It allows us to serve 100s of individuals who come to us for help each month and provides space for meetings and special initiatives.

As staff shared with Cardinal Dolan, our immigration team has a lot to brag about. The team:

 1.  Leads the regional case management, legal and resettlement response and care for the influx of unaccompanied Central American children.

2.  Helped orchestrate the successful “Terra Firma” medical-legal partnership program for unaccompanied children.

3.  Mobilized a team of more than 30 lawyers and support staff to help educate more than 800 immigrants at multiple parish and community centers in area that spans from Staten Island to upstate Kingston, NY about how they can benefit from President Obama’s Executive Action immigration reforms.

4.  Collaborated in the NYC-wide mass screening event for administrative relief (DAPA/DACA) scheduled for April 12, 2015.

5.  Prepared for the upcoming conference, “Responding to the Needs of Immigrants and Immigrant Families in New York State,” scheduled for March 25, 2015 with more than 300 career professionals already scheduled to attend.

6.  Expanded anti-fraud partnerships with district attorney offices and partners in New York City and state.

Cardinal Dolan shared his hallmark hugs, quips and high fives with staff and those we serve as he toured our legal, services for minors, English and Cultural Instruction and phone hotline programs before blessing staff, friends of Catholic Charities and the many individuals and families who come for help.

View this Facebook album of the event now.

“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.

Unpacking Tons of Food to Feed the Hungry

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015

goya fonFox News Latino spotlighted the massive collective effort kicked off yesterday by Catholic Charities staff, volunteers and Goya Foods to feed our hungry neighbors.  Working together, they unloaded a total of 35,000 pounds of food from Goya trucks, heaving it out box by box to pack, restock inventory and prepare bags for distribution to support a vast network of food pantries and emergency food programs throughout the archdiocese.

The colossal event included staff and volunteers simultaneously unloading tons of food at five Catholic Charities sites in Harlem, Washington Heights, the South Bronx, Staten Island and Kingston and a UJA Federation site in Brooklyn.  Thanks to Catholic Charities NY support and Goya donations, food is also being trucked to other areas across the country including Miami, Texas and California to feed unaccompanied minors arriving from Latin America.

“Unfortunately, we have to just look in the media to see that we have tension (around the world),” Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan tells Fox News. “This project is an opportunity to bridge gaps.”

Read the full story in Fox News Latino

Watch this slideshow of the volunteer effort. 

Share your comments here.

Feeding Our Neighbors is an archdiocesan-wide effort to raise food and funds to replenish food pantries and soup kitchens that feed hungry neighbors during the most critical time of year when need is high and giving is low.  Together, Catholic Charities in partnership with Goya aims to maximize impact to realize a goal of collecting 1 million meals to feed the hungry across New York. 

Martin Luther King Jr. Asked “What Are You Doing For Others?”

Monday, January 19th, 2015

By Alice Kenny

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “life’s most persistent and urgent question is ‘what are you doing for others?’”

At Catholic Charities, we have an answer.  Our Martin Luther King Jr. Interfaith Day of Service pulls together a small army of volunteers and staff to help feed the hungry.  Today we are unloading 30,000 pounds of food donated by Goya to stock food pantries in Harlem, Washington Heights, the South Bronx, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Kingston.

With 1 out of 5 New Yorkers now depending on aid for food, our food pantries have never been so strained.  This donation of food by Goya and time by volunteers makes a huge difference helping us feed our hungry neighbors.

“What are you doing for others?” Rev. King asked.

Join us in answering this urgent question.

Christmas Hope for the Mentally Ill

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Decked in Santa caps, plates brimming with food and Christmas carols ringing in the background, mentally ill adults served by Catholic Charities Beacon of Hope Division celebrated the holiday season last week at the annual Beacon of Hope Holiday Party at the Epiphany Parish Hall on East 21st Street.

Some spoke and danced, some rocked and observed and nearly all chuckled as Cardinal Dolan showed off his Irish step-dance moves.

Beacon of Hope staff joined with Catholic Charities board members and volunteers from the national consulting firm, Deloitte, to celebrate the event. The Beacon of Hope Division of Catholic Charities Community Services is a residential program for approximately 436 individuals at 10 sites primarily in the Bronx, and on Staten Island.  Those served are seriously and persistently mentally ill adults; the program strives to enable them to live as independently as possible in their community.

“Beacon of Hope… taught me everything I need to know to basically live … on my own,” says Angela in this holiday video of the event.

Looking for a great way to kick off the holiday?

Watch this video now.

Check Your Mailbox for Your FitnessGram

Friday, February 21st, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Forget Twitter, Tumblr and the other social networks that have your kids sinking deeper into your couches. Now, thanks to a new partnership between Catholic Charities CYO and the Coca-Cola Foundation we are offering FitnessGrams and other fitness services to promote health – not to mention movement – among our parish youth.

The impact, not to mention the number of youth served, will be revolutionary. More than 24,000 children ages 5 through 17 from 225 parishes throughout the Archdiocese of New York will receive regular “FitnessGrams,”* updates that track their improved health thanks to a program funded by the Coca-Cola Foundation and incorporated by CYO. We already have participation in 100 schools stretching from the southern tip of Staten Island to Liberty, NY, 125 miles away.

CYO has provided meaningful, organized activities that engage our children in competitive sports for over 75 years. Now, thanks to this Coca-Cola grant, we have the means to provide feedback to children and their parents that participation in CYO sports serves as a foundation to lifelong fitness/wellness habits. It adds value to participation in CYO sports by making it clear that CYO is more than just sports. It is fitness.

Our participant pool that ranges from kindergarten to high school seniors already shows a meaningful impact in this first year of the three-year program. It proves that it is never too early to start educating about the importance of fitness or too late to make the change to a healthy lifestyle. The program has reinvigorated physical education teachers’ and school principals’ push in stressing the importance of healthy living.

CYO also plans to offer a lifestyle expert to educate 2,000 head coaches, 225 parish coordinators and seven CYO county directors about the key role nutrition on plays on healthy development.

Finally, FitnessGram assessments – already part of the Presidential Youth Fitness Program — will assess participants’ fitness levels, report the results to students, parents and administrators and educate our community on the importance of everyday activity and life-long health and fitness.

Yes a FitnessGram. Don’t be surprised when you hear from us soon.

*Visit the FitnessGram website to learn more.

Catholic Charities Helps You Prepare as “Polar Vortex” Grips NY

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

As bitter cold bites New York plunging temperatures to their lowest in decades, Catholic Charities joins with the New York City Office of Emergency Management to help keep you and our fellow neighbors warm.

Warning:  Prolonged exposure to extreme cold weather can be deadly.  The National Weather service forecasts wind chills of near -10 degrees and below-freezing temperatures until Thursday.

Vulnerable populations, such as seniors and infants, are most at risk during extreme weather.  So it’s important to check on friends, family and neighbors if you think they need help getting to a warm place.

The NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene encourages everyone to stay indoors as much as possible.  If your home lacks heat, get to a warm, safe place immediately.

To discourage unnecessary trips outdoors, the NYC Department of Aging asks Catholic Charities and fellow operators of senior centers encourage participants to stay home.  None-the-less, some seniors need meals and a warm place to stay.

  • Catholic Charities opened its senior centers in certain locations including Staten Island.
  • We are also providing extra meals to bring home along with cold weather safety tips to avoid unnecessary trips outdoors.
  • Case managers are calling to check on homebound seniors and high-risk clients during the cold weather.

We urge you to join us in checking on neighbors, friends and relatives.

  • If you are concerned about someone on the street who may be homeless and in need of assistance call 311 and ask for the Mobile Outreach Response Team. The Department of Homeless Services will send an outreach team to the location to assess the individual’s condition and take appropriate action.
  • If your building is cold, check on your neighbors. If you know someone who is vulnerable and lacking heat, help them get to warm places and notify the building manager and/or call 311 to get heat restored. If you see someone with signs of hypothermia such as confusion, shivering, slurred speech, drowsiness call 911 for help and help the person get warm while waiting for help.
  • Landlords and building managers should check their building systems to ensure heat, and check on vulnerable people

Health problems resulting from prolonged exposure to cold include hypothermia, frostbite and exacerbation of chronic heart and lung conditions. Recognize the signs and symptoms of hypothermia and frostbite:

  • Hypothermia is a life-threatening condition where the body temperature is abnormally low. Symptoms may include shivering, slurred speech, sluggishness, drowsiness, unusual behavior, confusion, dizziness, and shallow breathing. Some people, such as infants, seniors, and those with chronic diseases and substance abuse problems can get sick quicker. Check on friends, relatives, and neighbors who may need assistance to ensure they are adequately protected from the cold.
  • Frostbite is a serious injury to a body part frozen from exposure to the cold. It most often affects extremities like fingers and toes or exposed areas such as ears or parts of the face. Redness and pain may be the first warning of frostbite. Other symptoms include numbness or skin that appears pale, firm, or waxy.

Provide first aid:

  • If you suspect a person is suffering from frostbite or hypothermia, call 911 to get medical help.
  • While waiting for assistance to arrive, help the person get warm by getting them to a warm place if possible, removing any damp clothing and covering them with warm blankets.

Click here for additional tips on:

  • What to Do if You Lose Heat or Hot Water at Home
  • Safe Home Heating
  • Fire safety
  • If You Need Emergency Heating Assistance
  • Shelters and drop-in centers

For more information about cold weather safety and how you can prepare for emergencies call 311 or visit

Click here for more information on Catholic Charities emergency food and shelter programs.

Call the Catholic Charities Help Line at 888-744-7900.

Watch NY1: Find out About Catholic Charities’ New $250,000 Survivor Support Program

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

As we approach the season of giving, Catholic Charities announced Monday a $250,000 program to provide holiday assistance to Staten Island families that are still struggling with Hurricane Sandy.

Catholic Charities will provide gift cards for holiday meals and needed food as well as other warm-weather necessities like coats, blankets and household items through Thanksgiving and the holiday season.  The program is set to begin mid November for families with open disaster case management cases.

“We’re here today and we’re going to be here,” Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr Kevin Sullivan says, “to make sure every family gets the help they need.”

So far Catholic Charities helped over 600 island families cope with the aftermath of the hurricane.

Were you hurt by Hurricane Sandy?

Call the Sandy Referral Line at 1-855-258-0483

Click here for more resources.

Watch the full program on NY1.


From the Shadows to the Light – Undocumented Family Rebuilds Their Life

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

By Teresa Santiago

When Hurricane Sandy began assaulting the Midland Beach area of Staten Island, Jesus Maria Aguilar, his wife Patricia and son Allan did not imagine the devastation that it would leave in its wake.

They lived in Midland Avenue right in the middle of a flood zone area but did not receive any warning or evacuation advisory leading up to the super storm. If warning signs were posted they did not understand because they were not in Spanish. “The day of the storm we were scared because we were feeling the strength and power of the storm. The wind and rain was like nothing we had ever experienced. By the time we decided to leave our apartment the water was already up to our thighs,” recalls Patricia.

The Maria Aguilar family went to stay with a friend on Tompkins Avenue. Less than an hour of being in their friend’s home they received a call from a neighbor informing them that their apartment building was on fire.

The family was not able to see the damage until days later after the flood waters had receded. They were told that the fire department tried to stop the fire but could not get near the building because the flood waters were too high. When the family was able to go back to their home they were totally devastated. “Nothing was left but ashes. We lost everything but the clothes on our backs and the few things we packed to weather the storm,” recalled Jesus.

“I ran into the freezing water towards the building thinking that there was something I could save,” said Patricia. “We work so hard for the few things we have. To see everything that we have worked for gone was incomprehensible. I was stunned.”

The fire occurred when 90 mile per hour winds and rain caused an electrical short in the power line in front of the Maria Aguilar’s apartment building.

For months the Maria Aguilar family lived with their nephew with no help or direction on where to go for help. Since they are undocumented they were not able to receive any federal government aid including FEMA.

“We were desperate. We had no money. I worked when I could find it. Because of my arthritis and diabetes acting up it made it very difficult to find work during this time. A neighbor told my nephew about El Centro del Inmigrante, (El Centro), about the services they provided and that it was all confidential. We immediately went and started our recovery process,” said Jesus.

At El Centro the family met with Catholic Charities disaster case manager Melba Rodriguez and received immediate help, gift cards for food and basic necessities as well as the down payment for their new apartment. What they urgently needed was a refrigerator and air conditioner. The family was using plastic coolers and ice to keep their perishable food cold and edible. In early September, Jesus received $1,300 in Home Depot gift cards to purchase his refrigerator and air conditioner.

El Centro is one of the community-based agencies subcontracted by Catholic Charities to provide a locally-based disaster case manager for each family that have unmet needs related to Hurricane Sandy. El Centro addresses the needs of newly arrived immigrant day laborers and their families. Through immigrant and labor advocacy, educational workshops, labor leadership training, and emergency intervention for hunger, homelessness, health and safety needs, El Centro provides opportunities for economic empowerment, community-building and organizing.

Catholic Charities has a proven track record of managing disaster cases beginning with the 911 terror attack in 2001 then Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in late 2011. The NYS Division of Homeland Security Office of Emergency Management, (OEM), has an existing contract with Catholic Charities to manage the DCM program for the 34 counties that were impacted by the Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee and requested that Catholic Charities expand on this experience and manage the long term disaster case management program for survivors of Sandy.

The program is designed to provide a locally-based disaster case manager for each family in the 13 impacted New York counties that have unmet needs related to Hurricane Sandy. By funding networks of community-based agencies, NYS hopes to provide easy access to support residents seeking help and to avoid duplication of services.

Catholic Charities has subcontracted with 20 locally-based not-for-profit organizations with demonstrated expertise in the provision of case management services to serve impacted communities. El Centro is one of these community-based agencies funded.

Through this program Catholic Charities case manager Rodriguez has laid out a long term plan for the Maria Aguilar family that has assessed their immediate and long term situation. She has assisted them in receiving the aid that they need to get back on their feet. “The Maria Aguilar family has gone through an extremely difficult life altering situation, but they are resilient and hard working people,” said Ms. Rodriguez.

“We finally feel that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, we are feeling better emotionally, physically and finally feeling hopeful for a good future. We are extremely grateful for the help that Ms. Rodriguez, Catholic Charities and El Centro has given us. I don’t know what we would have done without the help” acknowledged Patricia.

“I thank God everyday that we are alive and that we suffered no injuries, material things can always be replaced. We came to this country from Acapulco, Mexico nine years ago with nothing and we have always worked hard. We will continue to build our lives. It is the only thing we can do,” concluded Jesus.

Many Have Forgotten Sandy Survivors’ Struggles; Day Laborers Remember and Volunteer

Wednesday, October 9th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

The truckloads of volunteers that once filled Staten Island streets after Hurricane Sandy struck have dwindled to a halt. But while memories of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation have faded for many, the reality remains stark for Staten Island homeowners still struggling to rebuild.

Fortunately, day laborers have not forgotten.

Better known for their predawn gatherings on street corners as they seek work in gardening and construction, these men and women without legal documentation continue to make the nearly five-hour round trip commute from Yonkers to Staten Island to provide for free their skills and expertise. They tear out five-feet-tall weeds suffocating once-green lawns, repair boilers and strip out mold-laden walls.

Last week, men from Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, a group of day laborers in the Yonkers area served by Catholic Charities, accompanied Catholic Charities staff to install sheetrock for a homeowner in Staten Island’s Midland Beach.

Catholic Charities has an ongoing involvement with Obreros Unidos De Yonkers, a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area. Through this program, Catholic Charities educates workers on employment rights and responsibilities in order to prevent exploitation and abuse. Catholic Charities also assists in the collection of unpaid wages, helps workers get access to healthcare services, provides emergency food, and offers English language and computer skills instruction.

Please join us in helping Sandy survivors rebuild.

Volunteers are needed to work with us on Columbus Day to replace damaged chain link fencing at a homeowner’s yard in the Midland Beach section of Staten Island. We also need folks to help us bundle up the damaged fence and stretch and hang a new one.

All tools and equipment will be provided as well as transportation from Manhattan to the site in Staten Island and back. All we ask is that you bring some muscle and your lunch.

Click here for details.