Posts Tagged ‘The New York Times’

Meet Ted Staniecki, Catholic Charities’ Unsung Hero

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Old women with walkers shuffled towards the Catholic Charities Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. Center in Harlem last month through a foot of snow and ice.  Moms with hungry children in tow herded towards its food bank.

Ted Staniecki, the center’s facilities manager, grabbed a snow shovel with Kennedy Center Director Rodney Beckford,  fellow staff Hector Estrella and Jose Crisostomo, and dug and scraped until they cleared a path.

Times like these are what Ted says he likes most about his job.

It’s Ted’s low key, hands-on approach facing down hurdles that make him a hero among those who know him best.

“I don’t think enjoying my job is work,” Ted says, “so I haven’t worked a day in my life.”

The son of a Waldorf-Astoria doorman, Ted, before transferring his talents to Catholic Charities, worked his way up from middle school teacher and coach to Washington Heights Incarnation School principal.

This was “back in the days,” wrote a Daily News reporter “when the streets outside were so dangerous team members would have to dive to the sidewalk when gangsters pulled out Uzis.”

Challenges Ted braved were so extreme that news outlets across the city covered them.  The Wall Street Journal wrote about how Ted, the founder, driver, assistant couch and all-around godfather of the Incarnation Angels girls CYO basketball team, brought them to city championship in 1997.  Meanwhile, the team shared their home court, the Fort Washington armory shelter, with 1,400 homeless men.

The same year, The New York Times covered a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling allowing public school teachers to provide remedial instruction to students in Catholic school classrooms.  Sounds logical now, but for the prior 12 years, federal law forbid public school teachers from instructing students with special needs on Catholic school property.

So 200 of Incarnation School’s 520 students grades K – 8 would traipse out of the school for remedial help.  They studied in three trailers parked nearby as drivers idled the vans for power and lights.

“We finally got some common sense,” Ted told The Times.

After retiring from Catholic schools, Ted worked as director of the West Bronx CYO Center.  Then, five years ago, he came to Catholic Charities Kennedy Center.

Similar to its Harlem neighborhood, the Center, he says, needed reviving.

“Kennedy Center needed a paint job; it needed pictures; it needed people,” Ted says.

Deacon Rodney Beckford took over as Kennedy Center’s director, joining Ted and a host of supportive staff and administration to transform the once-sleepy center to one now exploding with activity.  From sunrise to sunset, seven days a week, activities ranging from Harambee dance to gospel choirs, from basketball games to social service programs, fill the four-story building with song and action.

Harlem, in turn, is undergoing a similar revival.  The famous Lenox Lounge reopened along with the Red Rooster restaurant.  Congressmen Charlie Rangel lives across the street from Kennedy Center.  Governor David Patterson and former Mayor David Dinkins live nearby.

“Kennedy fits in well helping the neighborhood heal from the tough times it’s been through,” Ted says. “Our staff is balanced – all nationalities – and people who come here just see someone who is here, who is going to help them, going to respect them.”

Read more about Ted in the New York Times.

Read more about Ted  in the New York Daily News.

Mourning the Death of Philip Seymour Hoffman

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Gabriel Buoys Agence France - Presse - Getty Images

Catholic Charities joins in mourning the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the most widely admired actors of our time, who died on Sunday at the age of 46 of a heroin overdose.

Thanks to appearances in such movies as “Capote”, for which he won a best actor Oscar, The Big Lebowski and The Savages, his ease at combining a somehow laid-back intensity with an offbeat sense of humor made millions of us viewers identify with him as Mr. Everyman.

Unfortunately, Mr. Hoffman was also known for his struggle with addiction.  He said on a 2006 “60 Minutes” interview that he had given up drugs and alcohol when he was 22, according to his obituary in The New York Times.  Then last year he checked into a rehabilitation program for about 10 days after a reliance on prescription pills resulted in his turning again to heroin.

He is survived by numerous family members as well as his three young children.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction there is no need to struggle alone.

Catholic Charities affiliated agencies offer specific programs to help treat and overcome addiction.  We helped treat 8,677 teenagers and adults last year for substance abuse.

Please contact us at:

 

Slide Show:  Remembering Philip Seymour Hoffman:  The New York Times

New York Times Reports Increased Demand for Food Banks as Donations Decline

Friday, January 24th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Exacerbating cuts made last November in food stamp programs that feed the hungry, Congress is now eying significant additional reductions, reports The New York Times on Wednesday, January 22.

“Food banks across the country,” reports The New York Times, “are increasing efforts to prepare for the increased demand even as donations decline.”*

It is crucial now more than ever to join with us in Feeding Our Neighbors, our united effort to fight hunger.

Now in its third year, Catholic Charities will be joined by UJA/Federation to make Feeding Our Neighbors 2014 an interfaith campaign on behalf of New York’s hungry.

Starting January 26th, we’ll be leveraging our collective reach and already expansive networks for even greater impact — with the goal of collecting and distributing a combined one million meals to feed the hungry throughout New York.

Too many children and families struggle every day with hunger.

Feeding Our Neighbors, An Interfaith Response unites Catholic Charities and UJA-Federation of New York, two of the largest faith-based, not-for-profit organizations, to combine efforts to help fight hunger and replenish dwindling supplies.

You can be part of this united effort.  Help us collect and distribute food packages across pantries and shelters throughout the New York area.

Because ultimately, we do the most when we do it together.

Please join us!

Click here to donate – and write “Feeding Our Neighbors” in the comments field.

Reading this on your smart phone?  Text CCHOPE to 85944 to make a one-time $10 donation.   (Standard text rates apply.)

*Read the full story in The New York Times.

 

Fighting to Keep the Life She Built

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

Robert Stolarik for The New York Times

By Alice Kenny

Seven years old when her family moved her from Mexico to Yonkers, Beatriz Rivera, now 31, does all she can to achieve the American dream.

At age 14, she began her career at the bottom rung as a bagger at a local grocery chain store.  Quickly she was promoted to cashier, then supervisor, then customer service rep, then junior accounting clerk.  Ultimately she worked as the manager’s executive assistant.

However, the work permit she received at age 17 expired years ago.  So, while she has a valid social security number and driver’s license, she also counts herself among the “Dreamers” who live both openly and in the shadows of American society.

This impacts her life in small and large ways.  For example, although she has been paying state, local and social security taxes for more than a decade, she would be ineligible to receive social security benefits.

Fortunately, Catholic Charities attorneys are helping her obtain a two-year, renewable work permit by filling out a Deferred Action Plan for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) application.

Now, while working full time, she is also pursuing her associate’s degree to become a registered nurse.

Read her full story in The New York Times.

Hungry, Cold and Out of Options

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

By Alice Kenny

Hungry, cold and out of options, children and families are turning to Catholic Charities for help.

The numbers of hungry New Yorkers are frightening. One-fifth of New York City children and one-sixth of the city’s residents live in homes without enough to eat, according to statistics compiled by The New York Times.

Help us help our hungry neighbors. Please join us in our third annual Feeding Our Neighbors campaign.

With your help, our 2014 Feeding Our Neighbors campaign will replenish food pantries and soup kitchens throughout the Archdiocese. This year, the campaign will take place Sunday, January 26 – Sunday, February 2, 2014.

“I am delighted that we are partnering with old, as well as, new friends. Archdiocesan Catechetical department and Catholic Schools, The Catholic Charities Junior Board, CYO, The Knights of Columbus and the Office of Youth Ministries are among those who responded and embraced Cardinal Dolan’s call to action,” says Msgr. Kevin Sullivan. “Thanks to all!”

To fight growing hunger, we are prepared to collect food and funds for an additional 1,000,000 meals. The first year of our Feeding Our Neighbors campaign we raised 500,000 additional meals. Last year, with help from donors like you, we raised close to 750,000 additional meals.

See a full list of pantries and soup kitchens to be supported.

Join us in fighting hunger by Feeding Our Neighbors.

Taking Responsibility for a Child, Then Raising Five More

Monday, January 13th, 2014

Bridgett Webb, 47, took in her niece, Shanequa, as a newborn. Ms. Webb, who had a daughter six years ago, also helps Shanequa, who has developmental delays, raise her four children. James Estrin/The New York Times

Twenty-three years ago, in a hospital maternity ward, Bridgett Webb made a pivotal choice.

The health of her newborn niece, Shanequa Webb, was precarious, jeopardized by the actions of Ms. Webb’s sister, the girl’s mother, who had used crack cocaine during her pregnancy. Foster care for the newborn was imminent.

“They asked me if I could care for her, and I said, ‘Can I do this?’ ” Ms. Webb, now 47, recalled. “I was standing there and the lady said, ‘I’ll give you a week.’ I decided I shouldn’t even wait a week. This is my blood, this is my niece. I walked up and the Lord just told me, ‘Take her.’ ”

The baby became a beloved daughter to Ms. Webb.

Raising her was no easy feat. Shanequa has contended with depression and developmental delays all of her life.

The rockiest moment in their relationship occurred six years ago, when they realized Shanequa, still a teen, was pregnant with twins.

Now “I look at them as if they were my very, very own,” Ms. Webb says of the dominant role she plays in bringing up her grandchildren.

Read their story in The New York Times.

Find out how Catholic Charities is helping this family thrive despite the challenges they face.

 

Torture Survivor Rebuilds Life

Friday, January 10th, 2014

Angel Franco/The New York Times Angele Nogue and her son Brandon, 9.

A once-successful business person who ran a multi-million dollar interior design firm in Cameroon, Angele Nogue was stripped of nearly all she possessed.  She lost it all, she said, in retaliation for caring for orphans and organizing marches that protested their increasing numbers caused by the country’s chaotic dictatorial policies.

Today an asylee and participant in NYU/Bellevue Program for Survivors of Torture program, Ms. Nogue lost the business she built.  She lost her home and homeland.  Worst of all, she lost friends murdered by the government.

When Ms. Nogue tries to describe those who, unlike her, were unable to escape, survivor’s guilt leaves her sobbing.

Catholic Charities Refugee Social Services Program is helping Ms. Nogue rebuild her life.  It provides her with counseling, social service support and job-readiness and placement services.  Catholic Charities also provided her with metro cards to attend job interviews.  And it provides her family with coats, clothes and essential housewares through its St. Nicholas program and food through its pantries and holiday programs.

She and her children currently live in a shelter.  Her Catholic Charities case manager is helping the family find permanent housing and will provide further support when they move into their new home.

Now feeling stronger, Ms. Nogue has begun studying to become a registered nurse at Hostos Community College.

Read Ms. Nogue’s profile in The New York Times.

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.

Preserving Human Dignity of Workers in Bangladesh and Beyond

Monday, January 6th, 2014

David Suter/New York Times

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, responded to The New York Times update on the tragic aftermath of world’s worst garment industry disaster in Bangladesh that killed more than 1,100 workers and maimed and impoverished countless more.

Check out their letter below.

Join us in ensuring “that the dignity of working people doesn’t end up on the clearance rack.”

“We recently traveled to Dhaka, Bangladesh, to meet with survivors of the Rana Plaza factory collapse and their families,” Msgr. Sullivan and Mr. Applebaum wrote in their recently published New York Times Letter to the Editor.

“Your article echoes what they told us. They emphasized the need for greater financial compensation for their suffering. And they warned that unsafe conditions in garment factories could lead to more tragedies.

Americans regularly buy apparel made in Bangladesh. Responsible shopping here can create solidarity with workers there. Consumers can support retailers and brands that have joined the Accord on Fire and Building Safety to improve Bangladesh’s garment factories.

Workers who make the clothes Americans buy and wear cannot just be viewed as costs to control. That race to the bottom could only result in more lost lives.

All of us must help minimize the human casualties of our global economy and ensure that the dignity of working people doesn’t end up on the clearance rack.”

After Surviving Slaughter, A Deep Instinct to Survive

Monday, December 30th, 2013

By Hannah Murphy

The New York Times

When Epiphanie Musabiyemaria was growing up in Rwanda among two tribes, Hutu and Tutsi, teachers would ask each student “what they were.” She could not answer, she said, because her father had never told her. We are all just people, he insisted.

When she was 23, at the beginning of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the government decided for her. Her mother was tall, which was considered a Tutsi trait. The family’s friends were Tutsi. Her fiancé, the father of her unborn son, was Tutsi.

So every day, the Hutu-led government threatened to kill them.

“Three o’clock was a very special hour for our family,” she said. “That’s when they gave you the notice that you were going to be killed.” It was rumored that anti-Tutsi forces were waiting for her to give birth, to kill her infant as well.

By the end of the war, her brother, her fiancé and her youngest sister were dead.

Read her story in The New York Times.

Find out how Catholic Charities is helping her rebuild her life.