Posts Tagged ‘Yonkers’

Little Jocelyn Farms for Food & Freedom

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

jocelynBy Alice Kenny

As a light breeze brushes freshly tilled soil, Jocelyn, 5, picks up a hammer to help her dad build a family garden.

It’s a magical moment for her family, a time when Jocelyn, her mom, dad, and big brother Steven, 7, think about working the soil and enjoying the sun, about picking tomatoes, peppers and beans.  Best of all, it’s a time when they don’t think about growling bellies or the daily search for work.

Jocelyn’s father belongs to Obreros Unidos de Yonkers, a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area served by Catholic Charities.  Here they learn about employment rights to prevent their exploitation and abuse, receive assistance collecting unpaid wages, get help accessing healthcare services, participate in English and computer skills classes and receive emergency food to supplement their gardens’ bounty.

Most importantly, Catholic Charities helps Jocelyn and families like hers become independent.  The community garden on Oak Street in Yonkers where Jocelyn helps her family is one of two community gardens maintained by and for day laborers.

The land, donated by the Greyston Foundation, an integrated network of programs that help families move toward self-sufficiency, had been littered with plastic bags and rotting garbage.  The laborers tossed out the garbage, built a fence to keep out future litter and are hammering together 22 boxes so that Obreros Unidos de Yonkers  families can  reap the harvest from  their own plots of land.

This community garden is one of two maintained by Obreros Unidos. The second, tilled right in front of the Catholic Charities offices on Hawthorne Avenue in Yonkers represents a joint effort between Catholic Charities Community Services, the Greyston Foundation, YMCA of Yonkers and Habitat for Humanity of Westchester.

“The gardens enable families, many who worked as farmers in the South and Central American nations where they were born, to share this tradition with their children while teaching them the importance of hard work and community,” says Catholic Charities Day Laborer Organizer Janet Hernández.

Cardinal Dolan Visits Holy Rosary & Don Bosco Community Center in Portchester

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

 

During Cardinal Dolan’s visit to Holy Rosary parish and its Don Bosco Community Center in Port Chester on Friday,  he spoke of the strong collaboration of Catholic Charities with both the parish and the center.

Catholic Charities social worker Mariana Duenas has been providing professional services for almost a decade.  The Don Bosco Community Center was the site of a recent Feeding Our Neighbors service event.

Our immigration services have provided informational sessions at the parish.  There is a connection being developed with day laborer programs at the Don Bosco Worker Center and the Obreros Unidos de Yonkers at St. Peter’s parish in Yonkers.

Welcoming Newcomers From Cardinal Dolan

Friday, October 18th, 2013

Cardinal Dolan hits the mark in the WSJ piece today on immigrants in the United States and the concern and role of the Catholic Church. Read it here: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702303918804579107131431541914?mod=djemEditorialPage_h

Cardinal Dolan points out three important ways that Catholic Charities works with immigrants: the dissemination of good information to thousands of immigrants each year through the New Americans Hotline, English and civic classes at the new International Center and support to day laborers in Yonkers. Right now, prayer combined with hard work is needed ensure that those rumblings in Washington, D.C. about possible immigration reform and a good Farm Bill will happen. This Farm Bill addresses the need for supplemental meals that so many families rely on. The immigration bill must address a broken immigration system with fair policies that address family unity, a pathway out of the shadows, border security and a legal option for businesses to hire the workers they need. For the individuals and families that Catholic Charities serves, both of these are critical.

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.

Battling for Bishops and Pawns, Day Laborers Face Off with Friars at Family Day Celebration

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

By Alice Kenny

Day laborers’ children battled to capture bishops, kings and pawns at chess competitions held with Franciscan Friars at a family day celebration on May 19th.  For the first time ever, St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers opened its doors to Obreros Unidos and their families on Pentecost Sunday.  City of Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano joined in the festivities.

The Catholic Charities-sponsored Family Day brought together more than 150 local day-laborer family members with seminarians, friars and Catholic Charities staff.  It was part of Catholic Charities’ 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 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.

The midday event began with Pentecost Sunday mass to celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Next, at an indoor picnic pulled together in response to the pouring rain outdoors, participants feasted on tacos, churros and flan.  Then they partied together as they faced off at chess matches, danced in Zumba exercise classes, painted faces and dabbled with arts and crafts.

Check out our Facebook page for more photos of the event.

Would you like to join Obreros Unidos de Yonkers?

Call (914) 375-6729/48 or visit the office at St. Peter’s Church basement, 91 Ludlow Street, Yonkers, NY  10705

Call the Catholic Charities Help Line — (888) 744-7900 — to find services you need.

Day Laborers Celebrate Their Heritage With Three Kings Party

Monday, January 7th, 2013


 

By Alice Kenny

On Saturday, January 5th, Obreros Unidos de Yonkers held their annual Three Kings Party to celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany. Timothy Cardinal Dolan joined over 300 members and their families for an Epiphany Vigil Mass at St. Peter’s Church and a celebration afterward.

The Feast of the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day, is widely celebrated in the Hispanic community with parties, gifts and a special pastry called rosca de reyes (kings’ ring). Catholic Charities staff and volunteers, including the Sisters of Charity, helped at Saturday’s party by serving dinner, distributing toys to children and giving gifts to the registered workers.

Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director of Catholic Charities, Janet Hernandez, the community organizer who staffs the Obreros Unidos program and Father Lino Otero, the pastor of St. Peter’s parish, all participated in the celebration, along with Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano.

“This is a great opportunity to celebrate the contribution that immigrants are making,” said Monsignor Kevin Sullivan. “Their faith, industriousness and commitment to family are values that inspire us all. Catholic Charities is both proud and privileged to be part of this community and provide needed help that creates a future of hope for these workers and their families.”

Obreros Unidos (Workers United) is a group of approximately 300 day laborers in the Yonkers area that works with Catholic Charities on projects throughout the year. For example, after Sandy hit, Obreros Unidos members volunteered to remove crumbling sheet rock and pull out ruined furniture from Staten Island houses destroyed by the storm. Catholic Charities also provides multiple services for the group, including educating workers on employment rights and responsibilities in order to prevent exploitation and abuse.

Day Laborers Served by Catholic Charities Begin Christmas Season with Blessing of Virgin of Guadalupe Statue

Tuesday, December 4th, 2012

By Alice Kenny

Fr. Elio blessed La Virgen de Guadalupe statue on Sunday, December 2, 2012, at St. Peters Church in Yonkers after day laborers served by Catholic Charities collected funds to purchase it.

The laborers plan to bring the statue of the Blessed Virgin to the homes of neighbors during Posadas, a Mexican tradition during the Christmas season that dramatizes the search of Joseph and Mary for lodging.