Posts Tagged ‘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.

Keeping Faith, Even When Home Is an Uncertain Place

Monday, December 9th, 2013

By John Otis

When asked to tell the story of his life and of the circumstances that left him homeless, Eugene Manu, 21, tripped over his words, his testimony stalled by moments of nervousness and trepidation, filled with false starts and constant backpedaling.

It is no wonder his thoughts could not find purchase. Mr. Manu’s meandering speech seems to reflect the fact that he’s never known any sense of stability or permanence. He is a young man who, despite a strong faith in God, and the guidance offered by certain family members, finds himself better acquainted with doubt and feelings of abandonment.

“I have never considered any place home,” he said.

Three months into Mr. Manu’s life, his mother, unmarried and barely scraping by at a minimum wage job, sent him to Ghana to live with his grandmother. He remained there for seven years before coming to the United States to join his mother in New York, where he would end up shuffled between an array of homeless shelters and foster homes, before he was returned to his grandmother’s care in Ghana at age 15.

Last spring, while living at Create, a Harlem shelter affiliated with Catholic Charities, he acquired his G.E.D. and was accepted at the Borough of Manhattan Community College. But at about the same time, he was hospitalized with pneumonia, caused by complications from the hereditary sickle cell anemia he was born with, and nearly died. “I felt like I was drifting away,” he said. “If it wasn’t for God, I would have lost my life.”

Read Mr. Manu’s story in The New York Times. Learn how Catholic Charities is helping him rebuild his life.

When the First Hurdle Is Remembering

Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013

Her memory ravaged by damage done to her brain, Nikkiya Simmonds, 32, returned to an apartment that might as well have belonged to a stranger. It was a cozy dwelling, strewn with cute knickknacks and calming artwork that she was tickled to learn that she had chosen, that she was, indeed, home.

But learning the identity of the adorable, yet utterly unfamiliar infant who greeted her was haunting. The child was Ms. Simmonds’s 2-year-old daughter, Nikalia Harrison.

“I remembered being pregnant, but I didn’t remember her,” she said. “I felt real guilty.”

In March, Ms. Simmonds, with no prior history of epilepsy or convulsive episodes, was stricken by a grand mal seizure. The injury to the frontal lobe of her brain was so severe that her mind was purged of every memory of the previous two years, including the entirety of her daughter’s life.

After two months of hospitalization, Ms. Simmonds returned to a new life and a new reality; an eviction notice slipped under her door.

Thanksgiving Approaches but NYC Children Do Not Have Enough to Eat

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

Catholic Charities Turkey & Trimmings Food Distribution

The New York Times reports  that one-fifth of New York City children and one-sixth of the city’s residents live in homes without enough to eat.

These rates of “food insecurity” have not improved over the past three years, despite the steady recovery of the city’s economy, said Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger that compiled the report.

“There is a great disconnect between the broader economic indicators and the fact that there is absolutely no recovery in any meaningful way for low-income New Yorkers,” Mr. Berg said in an interview. “At no time since the Gilded Age has there been a greater disconnect.”

The most dire change has been in the Bronx, where more than one-third of residents (36 percent) and nearly half of the children (49 percent) could not consistently obtain balanced meals from 2010 through 2012. Those three-year averages were up from about 29 percent and 37 percent during the three-year period that led up to the financial crisis — 2006 through 2008 — the study states, based on data from the United States Census Bureau.

But even in Brooklyn and Manhattan, two boroughs where real estate prices have risen to record highs, the number of people without enough money to feed their families is on the rise, the report shows. That trend was evident from the line snaking down Fulton Street last week outside the pantry Dr. Samuels runs.

Read the full story in The New York Times.

Contact Catholic Charities if you are hungry and need help.

Join Us in Our Feeding Our Neighbors campaign, an archdiocesan drive to replenish food pantries supporting non-Catholics and Catholics alike.

13% Spike in Number of Homeless New Yorkers

Monday, November 25th, 2013

By Alice Kenny

The homeless population increased by 13% in New York City at the beginning of this year, reports this recent article in The New York Times.

The shelter population reached levels not seen since the Depression era; a record 64,060 homeless people were counted on the street and in shelters this past winter according to an annual survey by HUD.

Nearly a quarter of all homeless people – 23% – are under 18.

A rise in families who could no longer pay their rent — a problem that is more acute in areas where affordable housing is scarce and rents are especially high – has driven the increase, according to federal officials. The group of very poor renters who pay more than half their income in rent and are struggling to hold onto their homes has grown by 43% nationwide since 2007, housing officials added.

If you are facing homelessness and need help, please call us at Catholic Charities. We support a vast network of emergency shelters, temporary and transitional housing and permanent affordable housing to help homeless families and individuals.

Eviction Prevention

Families and individuals who, for whatever reason, are facing the loss of a home or apartment are assisted by highly trained Catholic Charities caseworkers to prevent eviction and homelessness. Staff will assess the situation and create a comprehensive plan to respond to the immediate emergency and help avoid future crisis. Caseworkers will work with landlords, legal services, and financial management programs to help access rent subsidies and other government programs to assist families and individuals relocate to a new home.

Emergency Shelters

Parishes and other community organizations provide temporary shelter and respite for people living on the street. Operated mainly by volunteers, Catholic Charities provides assistance to these shelters and can help those in need access their services.

Temporary and Transitional Residences

Transitional, supported housing is an important component to the network of housing resources provided by Catholic Charities. Dedicated religious women have often taken the lead in developing and operating these housing programs. Some residences are specifically designed to serve the needs of women and their children, while others are available to the general population. Most offer a variety of services to assist the homeless in moving towards permanent housing and independence.

Permanent Affordable Housing

Affordable housing developed by Catholic Charities and other parish’s decades ago remain a precious, yet precarious resource. Catholic Charities has worked to make the Association of Catholic Homes an important vehicle not only for preserving existing housing but also for developing new affordable housing in the Archdiocese. All of these housing units have specific eligibility criteria, and many have significant waiting lists.
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