Posts Tagged ‘Staten Island’

You Come Into This World with Nothing and You Leave with Nothing

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Wincing as he walks, Donald Marcus, 70, surveys what is left of the eight bungalows he once rented out in Midland Beach, Staten Island, that provided affordable housing for friends and strangers.

“People live paycheck to paycheck,” he says, explaining why he rented out the one-bedroom homes just blocks from the beach for as little as $400 per month.

“I believe you come in this world with nothing and you leave with nothing.”

This is proving true for him.  Three of his bungalows destroyed by Superstorm Sandy have already been demolished by the city, including one where his tenant Jack Paterno, 65, drowned in the storm.

Two more, including the one he rented out to an elderly woman who shared her home with her mentally challenged brother so he would not have to live in an institution,  have been gutted right down to the salt-water soaked beams.

The final three he uses to demonstrate degrees of rebirth thanks to donations of time, materials and services he received by networking with everyone he meets, from the man he met that morning in line at McDonalds to the Catholic Charities Disaster Case Manager, MaryEllen Ferrer, who coordinates disaster recovery services for him.

Still, Mr. Marcus recognizes that his days of providing housing to the down and out are gone forever.  His former printing business up the street on Midland Ave that for 38 years printed everything from Pops Baseball cards to politicians’ bulletins and CYO flyers washed away in the storm as well.

“Not one dry sheet of paper was left,” he says.

Seventy years old, with no flood insurance and ineligible for FEMA loans to restore the bungalos because FEMA helps with primary residences, Mr. Marcus asks rhetorically “what am I going to do?  Start over?”

Catholic Charities cannot replace his former life, his Disaster Case Manager Valeriya Osipova says.  But it can help him get back on his feet, she adds.

As a disaster case manager, Ms. Osipova serves as advocate and expediter for Mr. Marcus and others whose lives have been upended by Sandy.  She created an individualized disaster recovery plan to advocate for access to needed services, coordinate benefits, and make referrals that range from obtaining sheetrock for Mr. Marcus’ houses to linking him to connecting him to volunteers to help repair his home.

Grateful for the assistance, Mr. Marcus tries to remain upbeat.  After all, Superstorm Sandy left his own home on Augusta Avenue in Staten Island undamaged, he said.  And his wife of 45 years who fell, broke her femur bone and was put on life support two months after the storm, is now recovering at home.

Yet the reality, he says, cannot be escaped.

“This is going to happen again,” Mr. Marcus says.  “Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow.  But again.”

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan Teams with Clergy and Immigrant Leaders to Call for Immigration Reform

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

By Alice Kenny

As part of a national month of prayer and action, Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined yesterday with Staten Island Catholic, Evangelical, Jewish, Muslim, mainline Protestant clergy and immigrant leaders to reflect on the lives of new immigrants.  The crowd gathered at St. Margaret Mary ’s Church in Midland Beach, Staten Island, with the church’s pastor, Fr. Erno Diaz, to pray for immigrants’ full inclusion through just and humane comprehensive immigration reform.

They held the event during the August Congressional recess, Director of NYS Interfaith Network for Immigration Relief Diane Steinman said, to persuade House of Representatives members to do the right thing for immigrants and our nation at large,

Among the many speakers was Maggie Kawas, an immigrant who spoke about her father’s deportation and, similar to many immigrant families, the tragic toll it took.

Msgr. Sullivan then spoke about witnessing firsthand the pain and suffering of undocumented immigrants forced to live in the shadows, many who live in fear of deportation or whose families have been shattered by deportation.

Learn more about what he said and the event in SILive.

Catholic Charities helps immigrants reunite legally with their families, obtain proper work authorization, learn English and civics, and prepare to pass citizenship exams. Catholic Charities also assists immigrants in avoiding exploitation by unscrupulous practitioners by providing correct information and realistic counsel about immigration status.

Looking for immigration assistance?  Call us at the New York State (NYS) New Americans Hotline: 1-212-419-3737 or 1-800-566-7636 (Toll-free in NYS)

For help finding other services you need please call us at the Catholic Charities Help line at: 888-744-7900.

Donors and Devastation: Connecting the Dots

Monday, August 5th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Driven in on flatbed trucks, dropped off from backpacks and carted in on wagons, donations for Sandy survivors began arriving in Staten Island after Super Storm destroyed nearly everything in its wake.

As donors pulled in, many making their first visit ever to this island floating between Brooklyn and Bayonne, they faced the same key question.  Where could donations be safely stored so they would be disbursed quickly to those most in need?

Catholic Charities stepped forward immediately to offer its cavernous gym at Mission of the Immaculate Virgin Mount Loretto in Staten Island.  Now serving as a makeshift warehouse and distribution center organized and staffed by Catholic Charities, the gym is stocked with heaters, dehumidifiers, tools and supplies. Most resources are limited as donated stock can change daily.

The donation center illustrates yet another support system cobbled together by social service and government agencies, corporations and private donors to help Sandy survivors rebuild their homes and lives.

“What’s available today may be gone by tomorrow,” says Catholic Charities Community Development Coordinator Lourdes Ferrer. “With Disaster Case Management things are constantly evolving.”

Statewide, more than 5,000 of Sandy survivors receive disaster case management services.  Managed by Catholic Charities, the New York State Disaster Case Management Program whittles down the complex system of disaster support by providing survivors with a single point of contact to access a broad range of resources.

Catholic Charities hired two full-time staff members to oversee the donation center and ensure fair distribution of its wares.  The agency also partnered with other Staten Island bases organizations to assure that all residents affect by Sandy, have access to the donated items and materials.

“When disasters happen, people just want everything fixed so they can get back to life as it was, but sometimes that’s not possible; sometimes there are no quick fixes,” Ms. Ferrer says.  “Disaster case managers play a very important and difficult role in the recovery process.  They have to maintain people’s confidence and keep them calm while walking them through a recovery process that can take years.”

  • If you were affected by Superstorm Sandy or know someone who was, contact your Case Manager to access needed materials.
  • If you do not have a case manager, contact the Sandy Referral Line at 855-258-0483.

Catholic Charities on the Move

Monday, June 17th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Several key departments are moving this summer out of the Catholic Center at 1011 First Avenue and into local neighborhoods.

The changes are part of Catholic Charities’ focus to provide localized, streamlined support for persons in need.

Eviction Prevention and Emergency Food Services, for example, moved to the Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Memorial Center at 34 W. 134 St. in Harlem.

This move adds to specialized services Catholic Charities already offers in local neighborhoods stretching from Staten Island to the Catskill Mountains and throughout the Archdiocese of New York.

Stay tuned for information and updates.

Looking for help?

Catholic Charities provides a wide range of specialized assistance.

  • Call Catholic Charities Help Line — 888-744-7900 — to find services and support at a location near you.
  • Click here for an A-Z Agency Directory
  • E-mail us through our contact form

Building Bridges by Feeding Our Neighbors

Monday, March 18th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Feeding Our Neighbors, an Archdiocesan effort throughout 10 counties to fight hunger, celebrated the tremendous participation of Catholic schools among others during its second annual campaign with an Art Exhibition and Awards Presentation at the New York Catholic Center on East 55th Street in Manhattan on March 13.

Catholic Charities Executive Director Monsignor Kevin Sullivan joined with Dr. Timothy McNiff, Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese of New York, and Dan Ahouse, Cablevision Area Director of Government Affairs, to welcome participants and announce awards.

“As we celebrate this wonderful transition and election of Pope Francis, we remember that one of his titles is called Pontifex, a word that simply means the builder of bridges,” said Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan at the event.

“The pope builds bridges,” Msgr. Sullivan continued. “The Catholic Church builds bridges. And Feeding Our Neighbors has built bridges because of the participation of so many.”

Students at local Catholic schools competed in the Feeding Our Neighbor Art Contest. Awardees included Syleste Alexander, a student at St. Teresa School in Staten Island, Omar Reyes, a student at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx and Anna Nicotra, a student at St. Augustine School in Ossining.

High School students also competed in the Cablevision Power to Learn Competition that raised food and funds for hungry New Yorkers. Students representing Cardinal Spellman High School in the Bronx won the competition. They donated their $6,000 award to their favorite charities; $5,000 to their high school and $1,000 to Catholic Charities.

The Feeding Our Neighbors Campaign is a response to Timothy Cardinal Dolan’s call that we all do our part to replenish the food pantries and soup kitchens that growing numbers of families and children in our communities rely on to survive. Sponsored by Catholic organizations throughout the Archdiocese of New York and managed by Catholic Charities, contributions to the campaign support local food pantries that serve New Yorkers non-Catholic and Catholic alike. Now in its second year, Feeding Our Neighbors joined forces this season with UJA Federation of New York to fight hunger and need.

  • In New York City, approximately 400,000 children rely on soup kitchens and food pantries for food.
  • In New York State, more than 3 million people rely on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, or Food Stamps) to meet their basic food needs.

Join us in Feeding Our Neighbors.

Click here to do your part to make sure no hungry neighbor is turned away.

  • $11.16 helps feed a child for one day.
  • $45 helps feed a family of four.

People Say Hurricane Sandy Is Over. It’s Nowhere Near Over.

Monday, March 11th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Thirty-foot-high waves crashed through Evelyn’s street “so high, so fast that if we’d stayed another minute we would have been trapped inside,” she said, still breathing fast four months later as she related the event.

Never had Evelyn imagined seeing the ocean out the windows of her Seavers Avenue home, she said.  After all, the two-story semi attached brick and shingled house she  shared with her sons, Christopher, 14, and Nicholas, 18, was surrounded by fellow semi-attached homes that stretched more than a mile to the nearest beach.

But on the evening of October 29, Hurricane Sandy whipped the mighty Atlantic as it commandeered Staten Island roads, washed away homes, trucks and businesses and destroyed nearly everything Evelyn and her family owned.

“People think it’s over,” she said, recalling that night and all the tough days that have come since then.  “It’s nowhere near over.”

She, her sons, and their two dogs, Pluto and Poppy, fought their way through the waves.  They dove into their 2000 Ford Explorer.  And they escaped, literally, with nothing more than the clothes on their back.  Salt water, dead fish and debris filled the basement and first floor of their former home.

If it were not for help from volunteers who drove nearly 1,000 miles from Tennessee to lend a hand coupled with donations from St. Margaret Mary Church and Catholic Charities, she could never have rebuilt her home, she said.

Fortunately, St. Margaret Mary Church in Staten Island gave her sheet rock, insulation, doors, compound, nails, and tape.  They also gave her a $500 gift card to Home Depot from Catholic Charities.

“I now had everything needed to set me up,” she said.

But it was only a start.

This single mom had no money to pay for the rehab.  When she returned to work a week after the storm, her employer, an insurance billing company, told her not to come back, she said.  She could not qualify for unemployment benefits, she added, because the company denied firing her, telling the New York State Unemployment Office that they instead told her to “take all the time she needs to recover.”  Meanwhile, her flood and homeowners insurance still have not processed her claims.

So, while she and her sons squeezed into a one-bedroom apartment paid for, temporarily, by FEMA, she went online seeking help.  On a Facebook site set up for Sandy Survivors she came across five men from Tennessee.  They were looking, they wrote, for a dry place to stay in Staten Island so they could volunteer their rehab skills.   Although the basement and first floor of her Seavers Avenue home had been destroyed, the second floor was dry, she wrote back, and they were welcome to it.

When the Tennessee volunteers arrived – “three guys in their 40s and two guys old enough to be my father” – they discovered that she was one of the only neighbors to have the rehab materials they needed to get to work.  So they chose her home.

For more than a week they worked 12-hour days, tearing out sodden insulation and sheet rock and mucking out flooring.  Then they rebuilt the walls and floors using the brand new building supplies that St. Margaret Mary Church and Catholic Charities had given her.

Her story, however, is far from finished.

“People are scavenging for building materials, people who have it much worse than me,” she said.  “It’s a community; it’s not just me.”

Would you like to help?

Text SANDY to 85944 to make a one-time $10 donation.

Calling all CYO basketball players, cheerleaders, runners — and families and friends to cheer them on.

Friday, March 8th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Check out these upcoming events:

Saturday 3/9 and Sunday 3/10 - First Round of Archdiocesan CYO Basketball Playoffs

Ulster County:  John A. Coleman Catholic High School.  Games begin at 10:00 am on 3/9/13.

Staten Island:  CYO-MIV Center.  Games start at 9:00 am on Saturday, 3/9/13 and 1:00 pm on Sunday, 3/10/13.

Bronx:  Our Lady of Mount Carmel School. 3/10/13. Game times TBA.

Orange County: 3/9/13. Game times TBA.

Saturday 3/1657th Archdiocesan CYO Cheerleading Competition at Fordham University 

The competition begins at 10:00 am

Saturday 3/16 - CYO Developmental Track Clinic and Relays at Fordham Preparatory School *

Clinic will be held with four-time Olympic Athlete (and CYO Board Member) Aliann Pompey.  Registration begins at 8:45 am


Saturday 3/16 and Sunday 3/17Second Round of Archdiocesan CYO Basketball Playoffs

Rockland County:   Pearl River High School and Dominican College.  3/16/13. Game times TBA.

Staten Island: CYO-MIV Center. Games start at 9:00 am on Saturday and 1:00 pm on Sunday


Saturday 3/23 - Archdiocesan CYO Basketball Championships

Held at the CYO-MIV Center and St. Joseph by the Sea High School in Staten Island.

Games at the CYO-MIV Center start at 9:00 am.

Games at St. Joseph by the Sea High School start at 11:00 am

Events are held for existing players on existing teams EXCEPT for the Track Meet/Clinic on 3/16.

*The track meet/clinic welcome athletes of all experience levels, with the focus strongly placed on education and participation.  The event is open to all CYO Teams throughout the Archdiocese of New York, and individuals may register and represent their parish.  All age levels and abilities are encouraged to attend.

Need more information? Call Sarah Masterson at 646-794-2062

Would you like to volunteer?  Click here.

Boos for Hurricane Sandy; Cheers for Its Victims

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

 By Alice Kenny

Synchronizing flying Dutchmen’s with back flips and shouts, cheerleaders raised spirits and funds for a good cause at the 2013 Cheerleading Competition held on Saturday, March 2, at the largest youth sporting event staged every year on Staten Island.

This year marked the 57th annual Cheerleading Competition held by Catholic Charities Catholic Youth Organization, CYO, in Staten Island.  But in the wake of Hurricane Sandy that destroyed the homes and businesses of families and friends throughout much of this borough, the cheerleaders decided to do something different.  Instead of competing, high school cheerleaders performed in a Cheer for Sandy exhibition that donated proceeds to benefit victims of the storm.

Nearly one thousand parents, grandparents and friends filled the stands at the College of Staten Island’s Sports and Recreation Center in Willowbrook.

“This is like the Super Bowl, the World Series for Staten Island,” said Kristine Romano, cheerleading coach with our Lady of Queen Peace.

Elementary-aged cheerleaders held their regular annual competition earlier in the day.  Winning teams – including Our Lady Star of the Sea that placed first for both the Elementary Varsity and Deb Regular competitions – then performed their routines with high school cheerleaders during the afternoon Cheer for Sandy performance.

“We try to teach our kids that there is a connection; that it’s not just sports,” said Joe Panepinto, executive director of Staten Island Catholic Charities.  “And they’ve been wonderful.”

Click here if you missed the competition but still want to help

Watch the video on NY1.

Read more in the Staten Island Advance.

“We got nothing,” He said. “We’ll take anything you can give us.”

Friday, January 4th, 2013

By Jeanne McGettigan, Catholic Charities Director of Emergency Food Services

On New Year’s Eve, Catholic Charities Emergency Food Services Department enlisted our Mobile Food Pantry staff and volunteers to distribute 6,000 meals in Midland Beach, a Staten Island neighborhood devastated by Hurricane Sandy.

Three staff and four volunteers rose early in the morning to pack bags at our delivery location in the Bronx, while another staff member waited for 26 cases of frozen chickens to be unloaded at the distribution site in Midland Beach, St. Margaret Mary Church.  In addition, one staff member stopped by our Staten Island office at Anderson Avenue to pick up 100 children’s books to distribute to children who stopped by. By 11am, the Mobile was parked in the lot of the parish, at 560 Lincoln Avenue.

A steady stream of residents arrived. Some had heard from their pastor, others from fliers given out at the nearby Restoration Center.  One woman said that she had just gotten a small electric oven, and she would cook her first meal in it with some of the items.  Residents who were still not able to cook were glad for ready-to-eat items such as apple cider, tuna, cream cheese, bread, romaine lettuce, and oranges.

Jim Reagan, head of the parish St. Vincent de Paul Society, offered to drive staff around to some of the still-devastated areas to check in and offer help.  It was sad to go block after block and find so many houses empty, their former residents staying elsewhere.  However, when we did find occupants at home, they were very grateful for assistance.

One man invited us into his humble bungalow, stripped down to the studs.

“We’ve got nothing” he said.  “We’ll take anything you can give us.”

Another family of six sent their two teenagers out to carry in armfuls of food.

One resident said, “I’m ok.  Give it to someone who needs it.”  A few minutes later, he was back. “I have a friend I can bring this to.  I’ll take a bag.”

By mid afternoon, over half of the bags had been distributed and the numbers of recipients had slowed.

Staff then contacted Tony Hall, of STAR (Small Town America Recovers) with a restoration hub set up at Midland and Kiswick.  Tony has been running a grass roots effort since the earliest days after the hurricane.  He agreed to take the remaining food and distribute it from his tent.

By the time we arrived to do the drop-off, a line had already gathered.  There was a family there: mother, father and child who had lost everything and were so grateful for the food that they received. They let me know that they had to abandon their home for the time and were living with their father in-law. A home of one suddenly became a house of four and food and money were scarce so they were happy to take some of the ‘burden’ from their father, if only for a few meals. When we checked in with Tony a few days later, he confirmed that all of the remaining food had been distributed on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day to residents of Midland Beach.

Providing Help and Creating Hope One House at a Time

Monday, December 31st, 2012

Damaged homes by Hurricane Sandy on Patterson Avenue Staten Island NYBy Alice Kenny

Catholic Charities volunteers Jim and Deborah Deats know firsthand of the destruction Sandy caused throughout New York.

While Deborah’s house is on a hill in Concord and escaped undamaged, when she witnessed the devastation across the island, she knew she had to do something. Immediately after the storm, she traveled by car to friends and families to offer help.

Deborah said she drove around “giving hugs, smiles, anything we could, just to tell these people that we’re here for them—that there is hope, that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”

Deborah’s father, Jim Deats, was in Florida at the time of the hurricane, but he drove up as soon as he could to offer help to the community on his native Staten Island. Teaming up with his daughter, he started volunteering with Catholic Charities to clean up houses on the island that had nearly been destroyed in the storm.

Working with Catholic Charities’ Staci Bruce and Damian Buzzerio, along with over 100 generous and devoted volunteers, Jim and Deborah have now cleaned up nine houses. After assessing what work needs to be done, Jim provides instructions for the volunteers, making sure everyone has a specific job. In addition to mucking out the houses, Deborah also visits with the residents and offers emotional support.

“One house at a time, one family at a time, we’ll get through it together,”Deborah said.

To hear more on how Catholic Charities volunteers give hope and strength to people who are rebuilding after Sandy, listen to Deborah and Jim Deats’ conversation with Monsignor Kevin Sullivan on JustLove.