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Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services - Information Session & Free Legal Clinic (Volunteers Needed)


LT. Joseph P. Kennedy Center
34 West 134th Street
New york

In partnership with / En Colaboración Con / En parténariat avec:








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**llame al 347-921-0631 o mande un correo electrónico a CCCSCommClinics@Gmail.Com**

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consultations légales gratuites sur l’immigration pour tous

les services & les ressources pour les familles immigrantes

Comment agir face a un agent d’immigration? (contact avec ICE)




Pour prendre un rendez-vous ou pour plus d’informations, contactez-nous:
**appelez 347-921-0631 ou envoyez un email  CCCSCommClinics@Gmail.Com**

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On-the-Ground Look at Relief & Recovery in Puerto Rico


Assemblyman Marcos Crespo Describes First Relief Flight to the Island

With telecommunication lines down it has been frustratingly hard to find out what’s happening on the ground in Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria.  Thankfully, we scored and are sharing this just-released JustLove radio episode with its inside scoop from Assemblyman Marcos Crespo on his firsthand experience of the storm's devastation.

Born in Puerto Rico, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo represents the Puerto Rican-populated fifth district in the Bronx and East Harlem. He joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the first relief flight to Puerto Rico just two days after Hurricane Maria tore through the island. 

He shares his witness to the crescendoing crisis with JustLove host and Catholic Charities NY Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan.  Also appearing on the show is Edwin Melendez, Ph.D., Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning at Hunter College and Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College.

Here are excerpts from Msgr. Sullivan’s JustLove radio interview with Assemblyman Crespo:

It was a very difficult thing to see the magnitude of the impact of this storm to see communities completely flooded.

We saw families in kayaks checking on neighbors, kayaking through their neighborhood.

We saw power lines down.

We saw trees down.

It’s a very surreal state.

There is no grid.  There’s no electricity.  Everything is running on generators

Without running water in many communities, it is impossible to do business.

Basic necessities become crucial because they don’t have a working infrastructure.

So even if stores can stock up on meat they can’t run the refrigeration

My mother works for the local municipality and City Hall gave her paycheck but there’s no working bank for her to cash it.

Now, one month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island:

  • More than 80-percent of the island’s electric grid is not functioning
  • 100-percent of residents have either no water or need to boil the water to disinfect it
  • 40-percent of sewage-treatment plans are not functioning
  • Telecommunications are down and 40-percent of residents have no cellphone signal
  • The death toll, initially estimated at approximately a dozen people after Hurricane Maria hit, swelled to 48 and is rising

Catholic Charities NY maintains a strong relationship not only with Assemblyman Crespo and Puerto Ricans we serve throughout the archdiocese of New York but also with our sister agencies in Puerto Rico. 

When the disaster hit, we reached out to help.

We are working with Caritas Puerto Rico (Catholic Charities of Puerto Rico) and we are working with our affiliate, the New York Foundling They have 40 HeadStart sites throughout the island that provide food, education and services for Puerto Rican children and families in need.

“New York Hispanic clergy organizations and so many of our church are in the lead in the initiative and there’s been an outpouring of support with thoughts and prayers,” Assemblyman Crespo says.  “I understand fully the magnitude of this, the response that has to match that magnitude and the monumental effort to help Puerto Rico now more than ever.”

Listen to the full interview on JustLove

JustLove airs Saturdays at 10am and Sundays at 5am EST on SIRIUS XM Satellite Radio on The Catholic Channel 129. Featuring interviews with social ministry leaders, thinkers and doers, the program investigates the ideas that shape the Catholic social mission and the deeds that put this mission into practice throughout the country.

Help us help Puerto Rico recover.

Donate by Mail: Make checks payable to “Catholic Charities/Estoy Con Puerto Rico” and address to:

Catholic Charities/Estoy Con Puerto Rico, 1011 First Avenue, 11th floor, New York, NY 10022

Donate Online:  Visit 

On the web form, type “Estoy con Puerto Rico” in the text field below ”Optional: Designate Your Contribution”

Learn more about our recent disaster relief efforts:




80 5th Ave,
New York


NYN Media will honor 50 of New York’s most prominent and accomplished leaders in human services, health care, education and other nonprofits over the age of 50 who continue to make a positive impact on New York through their achievements, leadership abilities, philanthropic efforts, and dedication to the betterment of the State!

Join us for a breakfast at Manhattan Penthouse (80 Fifth Avenue) on November 8th from 8:30-10:30AM.


Congratulations to the Class of 2017 Honorees!
  • Andrew Ackerman, Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Manhattan
  • Cyndie Bellen-Berthézène, Founder and Executive Director, The Time In Children’s Arts Initiatives
  • Greg Berman, Director, Center for Court Innovation
  • Joanne Bernstein-Cohen, Executive Director, The Little Orchestra Society/Orpheon, Inc.
  • Cathy A. Cramer, Esq., CEO, Legal Information for Families Today
  • Ralph da Costa Nunez, President and CEO, Homes for the Homeless and Institute for Children, Poverty, & Homelessness
  • Susan Davies, Senior Vice President and Chief Development Officer, United Way of New York City
  • Gloria DeNard, Executive Director, Manna House Workshops
  • Louis D. Farmer, Program Director, Urban Pathways
  • Beth Finnerty, Chief Executive Officer, Cardinal McCloskey Community Services
  • Laura Fredricks, JD, CEO and Founder, THE ASK
  • Rosa M. Gil, DSW, Founder, President & CEO, Comuilife Inc.
  • Arlene Goldsmith, Ph.D., Executive Director, New Alternatives for Children (NAC)
  • Mark L. Goldsmith, President and CEO, Getting Out and Staying Out
  • David Goldstein, Psy.D., Vice President, Child Health and Well Being
  • Kathleen Halas, Executive Director, Child Care Council of Westchester, Inc.
  • Tony Hillery, Founder and Executive Director, Harlem Grown
  • Alison Hughes-Kelsick, Director of Education Outreach Program, Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York
  • Damyn Kelly, President and CEO, Lutheran Social Services of New York
  • Alicia M. Kershaw, Executive Director, GallopNYC
  • Alisa H. Kesten, Executive Director, Volunteer New York!
  • Bertha Lewis, President and Founder, The Black Institute
  • Dianne Mack, Executive Consultant, Creative Social Solutions
  • Maria Martinez, Director of Client Services, Domestic Violence Project at the Urban Justice Center
  • Elsie McCabe Thompson, President, NYC Mission Society
  • Harriet McDonald, Executive Vice President, The Doe Fund
  • Keith Mestrich, President and CEO, Amalgamated Bank
  • Mitchell Netburn, CEO, Project Renewal
  • Vivian Nixon, Executive Director, College & Community Fellowship
  • Jean OShea, Executive Director, FDNY Foundation
  • Alison Overseth, Executive Director, Partnership for After School Education
  • David M. Pollock, Associate Executive Director & Director, Public Policy and Jewish Security, Jewish Community Relations Council of NY
  • Liz Roberts, Deputy CEO & Chief Program Officer, Safe Horizon
  • Muzzy Rosenblatt, CEO & President, BRC
  • Kathryn Salisbury, Executive Vice President of Strategy and New Business, Mental Health Association of NYC
  • Laurie Sands, Program Director, Graham Windham
  • Neal Shapiro, President & CEO, WNET - New York Public Media
  • Peggy Shepard, Executive Director, WE ACT for Environmental Justice
  • Mary K. Sontheimer, Assistant Executive Director, Astor Services for Children & Families
  • Matt Sturiale, President/CEO, Birch Family Services
  • Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, Executive Director, The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York
  • Suzanne Timmerhans, Associate Executive Director of Management Services, InterAgency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, Inc.
  • Willie Thomas, Program Coordinator, Arches, Phipps Neighborhoods
  • Stephen Tosh, Executive Director/CEO, The Boys’ Club of New York
  • Sarah E. Walzer, CEO, Parent-Child Home Program
  • David J. Woodlock, President and CEO, Institute for Community Living (ICL)
  • Judy Zangwill, Executive Director, Sunnyside Community Services
  • Lew Zuchman, Executive Director, SCAN New York
Chairperson’s Achievement Award
  • Sister Paulette LoMonaco, Executive Director, Good Shepherd Services


Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Dr. Vinton Thompson, President, Metropolitan College of New York

Life on the Frontlines of Immigration Reform


Jumping the High Dive to Rescue Lives

By C. Mario Russell, Esq.
Director of Immigration & Refugee Services
Catholic Charities NY


Just over a month has passed since our last update and, as you will see below, in just a few weeks’ time our work has grown, expanded, and deepened in significant, new, and exciting ways… reflecting prophetic and powerful work, over and above what each of our Catholic Charities staff does each day.

So here it goes:

Reunifying Families Separated for Years

September 1:  Our Director of Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement Department was featured in this episode of Monsignor’s Just Love Sirius XM radio, the Catholic Channel. She discussed the impact of the administration’s end to the Central American Refugee Minor program (CAM), which her team has been working on for a few years, reunifying families sometimes separated for years.

Backpacks, English Classes & More Put Young Immigrants on Firm Ground

Early September: UNICEF donated backpacks and school supplies for the upcoming school year to Terra Firma participants/Catholic Charities clients. The donated backpacks were distributed at the “graduation” of the Terra Firma summer programming, in which unaccompanied minors received English classes, soccer/recreation, and photography workshops and lessons that culminate in a presentation of their photos, their message, their meaning.


Closing the Achievement Gap

September 8:  Montefiore and Terra Firma sent a heartfelt thank you to the International Center staff for the successful completion of the summer English program. This successful, popular, and superbly run program operates during the summer and helps to close “the achievement gap” by providing English language education to unaccompanied children at Terra Firma.


Thank You for Supporting Young Immigrant Women and Mothers

Related great news, the New York Community Trust awarded the Unaccompanied Minors Program substantial two-year funding to support young immigrant women and mothers in their deportation defense, a tie-in to Terra Firma and the work being done there, which, until this October, had been generously funded and supported by the Porticus Foundation. Great work on the part of our staff for pulling this together just in time!! The New York Community Trust has supported Catholic Charities for over 20 years.


Excellent Work Jumping the High Dive

September 12:  One of our Catholic Charities immigration attorneys appeared on BronxNet’s Dialogo Abierto, to discuss options for DACA recipients after cancellation of the program.


Effects of Cancelling DACA

September 13: Catholic New York ran this article about the effect of the cancellation of DACA


Bringing Regulatory Details into a Human Frame

September 13: Our ActionNYC attorney appeared on BronxNet to discuss the end of DACA and options for Dreamers.


Lending a Voice of Calm and Care to the Community

September 15 and 21: One of our staff attorneys  did his weekly summary segment on Univision, these times focusing on scholarships and funding assistance for DACA applicants  and the DACA Day of Service. Well done!


International Food and Arts

September 22 -24: Our Refugee Resettlement Department participated in the Refugee Food & Arts Festival reported here in The New York Times.


The Best at Organizing & Delivering Legal Services

September 25:  Our Immigration legal team led a successful DACA Day of Service.  We served 51 people, 28 of whom were DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) renewals and consults. The day was kicked off by a press event with the Commissioners of NYC’s HRA and MOIA, who appeared with our Catholic Charities Executive Director Monsignor Kevin Sullivan. Thank you to all who helped coordinate the event and appeared and spoke to media making Catholic Charities a centerpiece for the city that day – and simply showed how we are the very best at organizing and delivering legal services. 

Watch coverage on NBC4 from TVEyes

Watch coverage on NY1 from TVEyes


Match-Making Good with Good

September 26:  Our International Center trained a group of HSBC Bank  volunteers to be Conversation Partners and have thus far successfully paired 9 of them with the Center’s immigrant ESOL students. This is about relationships—HSBC and Catholic Charities, and immigrants with volunteers—with special thanks to our special International Center leader who knows the subtle arts of matching-making good with good.


Refugee Cooking Class

September 27: Refugee Resettlement client, “Boubacar”, was featured in this story about cooking showing the beautiful work of integration at its best.


Right Place at the Right Time

September 29:  Speaking of being in the right place and time, our Special Projects team led a successful Community Legal Clinic in Putnam, further refining an already excellent production. The clinic was able to serve 80 immigrants and over 30 were found to have immigration benefits. An especially special “Special Projects Thanks” to our Special Projects team and the many, many, many volunteers and staff, who are present and contribute time and energy and care, time and again. To date, our Community Legal Clinic program has screened over 400 immigrants, finding about 150 eligible for relief.


If You Build It, They Will Come

Early October:  Our International Center was awarded $100,000 by the NY City Council for this fiscal year, to provide English as a Second Language services that Catholic Charities had been offering without support.


Dreamers Need You More than Ever

October 3: Our Immigration Hotline led a DACA phone bank, opening a new relationship with Telemundo and with NBC TV, its parent. Our staff was on hand—again, in less than a week!—for interviewing and for outlining deadlines and policy questions to this vulnerable community. Big thanks to our staff for their presence and support for the Dreamers, children brought by their parents to the United States, who need you more than ever.


Indonesian Dad Dragged on Plane, Leaving Child with Down’s Syndrome Behind

October 5: [Developing Update]: Several of our Catholic Charities attorneys and staff, mobilized through our Enforcement and Emergency Response Team, took on the challenging case of an Indonesian man who was about to be dragged on a plane for deportation but resisted because he was leaving behind four US Citizen children under 9 years (one with Down’s Syndrome) and his undocumented wife. After sustaining injuries by ICE officers, he was brought to a hospital in New Jersey and is now in Hudson County jail. We filed a Motion to Reopen and Stay request, seeking to reassert a claim of persecution in Indonesia based on the family’s Christian practice and affiliation. Also, the New York Civil Liberties Union will consider filing a civil case against ICE flowing from the assault and injuries. Our staff is working to coordinate human services support to the mother and children. More to come, but we are grateful for these important first interventions and efforts. This is where we must be.


Parishes Co-Sponsor Refugee Families

And finally, some exciting news from Refugee Resettlement: three parishes have agreed to become “community co-sponsorship groups” and will complete the process to sponsor three refugee families in FY17 and another four groups are being engaged with to prepare them for potential cases.


Take this all in. Pretty amazing and good stuff!



Introducing the Latest NY Times Neediest Cases Campaign


Catholic Charities First Profile: A Father Figure Dies, & the Bills Pile Up

Jashua Valentín woke up to his mother’s anguished cries. She usually helped him navigate his one-hour trip to elementary school in the Bronx, but on this day she sent Jashua, then 9, alone. The man who had been like a father to him was lying next to her, not moving.

Jashua’s mother, Herodidta Valentín Martínez, remembers that April morning in 2016 well. It was her partner’s first in a series of strokes that took away a little more of him each time.


This is how Catholic Charities 2017-2018 New York Times Neediest Cases Fund campaign kickoff story - that ran in newspapers today - begins.  When Jashua’s stepfather, the family’s primary breadwinner, died, Jashua and his mom suddenly grappled not only with profound sorrow but poverty and homelessness as well. 

(Then) one day, waiting for Jashua outside school and overwhelmed by loss, Ms. Valentín broke down in tears. Jashua’s teacher saw her crying and referred her to Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, one of eight organizations supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

Ms. Valentín came to Catholic Charities with her eviction notice in March, and the organization’s HomeBase staff represented her in housing court. That month, the Human Resources Administration forgave $3,205.60 of the debt, and Catholic Charities covered the remainder, allowing Ms. Valentín to keep the apartment. We then used $325 from the Neediest Cases Fund this summer to buy a single bed for Jashua (who, until then, had to sleep with his mom after his own bed broke.)

Jashua’s story marks the 2017-2018 Campaign beginning of Catholic Charities’ nearly century-long partnership with The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund campaign. 

We are honored to share these profiles of courage and resilience, characteristics of so many we are priviledged to serve at Catholic Charities. 

A Father Figure Dies, and the Bills Pile Up - New York Times


Jashua Valentín woke up to his mother’s anguished cries. She usually helped him navigate his one-hour trip to elementary school in the Bronx, but on this day she sent Jashua, then 9, alone. The man who had been like a father to him was lying next to her, not moving.

Jashua’s mother, Herodidta Valentín Martínez, remembers that April morning in 2016 well. It was her partner’s first in a series of strokes that took away a little more of him each time.

Her partner, Ciriaco Bernandez, 55, spent the next month at Montefiore Family Care Center in the Bronx and had two more strokes, just days apart. The first stroke left him blind, mute and unable to recognize some visitors. In his last weeks, Mr. Bernandez could communicate “yes” with a hand squeeze. Every day, Jashua and his mother would make their way to the hospital after school.

Mr. Bernandez could still laugh, but he would not come home. He died that June.

Ms. Valentín, 50, described her partner as “a good man, the man of the house, always working.” They met in 2008, four years after Ms. Valentín immigrated from Limón Honduras.

There, she led a comfortable life, selling food and clothes in a shop. Speaking no English, she came to America hoping to provide a better life for Jashua’s three older siblings, who are now adults living in Texas. Jashua was born two years after Ms. Valentín moved to the United States, and for part of his early childhood he lived with his grandmother in Honduras, while his mother got settled in New York. When they reunited, he did not recognize her.

In the Bronx, Ms. Valentín met Mr. Bernandez, also from Honduras, through a mutual friend.

After that, “whenever I was going out to work I’d always see him,” she recalled in Spanish. “I’d take a different street and I’d always bump into him. He’d say, ‘Hi, how are you?’ And I’d say, ‘I’m fine.’ Wherever I’d go I’d see him. And that was that,” she added, laughing.

At the time, Mr. Bernandez was in good health, aside from high blood pressure. Ms. Valentín and Jashua were financially dependent on his steady job at a shipping and packaging company in Mount Vernon, N.Y., just north of the Bronx, to pay the bills and to meet the $1,070 monthly rent for their one-bedroom apartment in the Soundview section of the borough.

Ms. Valentín continued working as a home attendant throughout her partner’s decline, a job she has held for eight years. But her $11-an-hour wage, once used to supplement food, clothes and school supplies, could not cover even their rent. She tried to get additional work hours but was limited by Jashua’s school schedule and his long commute. She quickly fell behind on payments.

To save money, they used natural light and turned on the air-conditioning only at night, but their electric bill was $78 a month. By March 2017, Ms. Valentín owed $4,398 in rent arrears and faced eviction. She had gone to New York City’s Human Resources Administration for help, but her claim was denied at first. Then, Jashua’s bed broke. Unable to afford another one, his mother shared hers.

One day, waiting for Jashua outside school and overwhelmed by loss, Ms. Valentín broke down in tears. Jashua’s teacher saw her crying and referred her to Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York, one of eight organizations supported by The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund.

Ms. Valentín came to Catholic Charities with her eviction notice in March, and the organization’s HomeBase staff represented her in housing court. That month, the Human Resources Administration forgave $3,205.60 of the debt, and Catholic Charities covered the remainder, allowing Ms. Valentín to keep the apartment. Catholic Charities then used $325 from the Neediest Cases Fund this summer to buy a single bed for Jashua.

Sitting across from a portrait of Mr. Bernandez — mustachioed, his arms by his side — Ms. Valentín’s voice trailed off as she remembered him. “He was like a father to my son,” she said, bowing her head and pinching her eyes as tears came.

Mr. Bernandez’s absence is still felt more than a year later. Jashua spends little time with his birth father, who also lives in the Bronx. He called Mr. Bernandez “Dad” or “Uncle,” and they played soccer together in the afternoons at a nearby park.

With the family dynamic greatly altered, Jashua clung to the normalcy of his school routine. “When I’d go to school, I’d forget about everything else,” he said.

Always a good student, Jashua lost himself in his studies, particularly his favorite subject, math. His grades gained him admission to Bronx Mathematics Preparatory School, where he started sixth grade in September. With funds from Catholic Charities, he was able to get a new red backpack, a blue lunch box and most of his school supplies. “I’m set for school,” Jashua said, smiling.

Looking to her own future, Ms. Valentín imagines greater independence, perhaps going to college or finding a better job. But all of that will wait, she said. For now, she will focus on her son. “He is my first priority,” she said.

Read More on the New York Times

Latest in Puerto Rico Recovery: No Water, No Power & Trailers Stuck at the Port


First-Hand from New York Foundling in Puerto Rico

Check out this just-updated Puerto Rico hurricane recovery report from New York Foundling, a Catholic Charities affiliate that typically cares for nearly 1,500 children at more than 42 Head Start programs throughout island.

By Carmen Jirau-Rivera
Chief Program Officer
The New York Foundling

Msgr. Sullivan present Hurricane Recovery donation to
Carmen Rivera & Bill Baccaglini at NY Foundling

It’s dire out there. Our island is still very much in need of assistance.  Hurricane Maria blew off daycare center roofs, broke windows, and tore out air conditioners, leaving our sites surrounded by downed trees and power lines, water-sodden walls, branches inside classrooms and classroom equipment and supplies that need to be replaced. 

We had to clean and decontaminate the premises in order to resume services in as many of our daycare centers as possible because children we serve are hungry and parents are in need of respite and need to return to work themselves. 

We are literally operating without power, with little water and food supplies are limited.  So far, we reopened 17 of our 42 daycare centers in the municipalities we serve. 

We are so appreciative to Msgr. Sullivan at Catholic Charities for the $25,000 check he gave us last week on behalf of Catholic Charities NY and to Caritas, Catholic Charities’ sister agency in Puerto Rico, for the $20,000 they gave us to provide vouchers for the families and to secure food for the centers.

Our center staff has initiated the cleanup necessary to resume services, and we relied on our local contractors to remove debris and ensure entrances and playground areas for the children are safe.  Our staff, 37 of whom lost their own homes or sustained such damage that they had to vacate, have returned to work and engaged in the tasks necessary to clean and decontaminate centers to ensure the centers comply with and adhere to the health and safety regulations.

We open our centers between 7 and 8 a.m. and keep them open until noon to provide each child with breakfast and lunch, and a much needed sense of normalcy during this time of upheaval in the lives.  We ask our parents to stay so we may provide them with a light meal as well and much needed respite.

Our nutritionists are running around the island to secure food supplies. This means they have to keep refueling and waiting on line. Thankfully, the lines for fuel have decreased. 

But waiting for food can take a full day and not every vendor has an ample supply of food.  Our nutritionists have to wait hours in their cars just to get into food distribution sites’ parking lot.  Then, for crowd control, they have to wait in lines to get into the stores.  Inside, the food supply is limited. 

There is almost no access to fresh fruit and meat, just carrots, peppers and some dried food.  We cook everything we get and deliver it to our daycare sites. We know there are these huge trailers sitting at the port yet supplies are not getting into supermarkets fast enough.

Nowhere on the island do our daycare sites have power, not even at our main office.  Some of our centers have gas and they are able to cook a simple hot meal.

We keep our daycare sites open until noon because by then it becomes unbearably hot and the children and staff can’t stand it. 

The most pressing need, however, is water.  We have running water in our centers but supplies are so low we‘re running out. We use all the gallons of water we have to flush toilets. We met with businesses to see if we can get water and have it delivered straight to our central office so our staff can disseminate water to our daycare centers.

Without water we’ll have to shut down.

Thanks to our partner and affiliate, New York Foundling, along with our sister agency, Caritas Puerto, Catholic Charities NY is on the ground, helping Puerto Rico rebuild and is serving as a conduit for donations for Puerto Rico Relief and Recovery efforts.

Help us help Puerto Rico recover.

Donate by Mail: Make checks payable to “Catholic Charities/Estoy Con Puerto Rico” and address to:

Catholic Charities/Estoy Con Puerto Rico, 1011 First Avenue, 11th floor, New York, NY 10022

Donate Online:  Visit 

On the web form, type “Estoy con Puerto Rico” in the text field below ”Optional: Designate Your Contribution”

Learn more about our recent disaster relief efforts:



We Built a Playground!


Volunteers Create Fun Space for Children with Special Needs


By Fanny Gomez

Catholic Charities Social Media Specialist


I volunteered with Catholic Charities on October 5th to help KaBOOM, Astor Services and Disney build a 2500-square-foot playground for pre-school children with special needs served by Astor Services in the Bronx. I signed up to help because I’ve always liked to volunteer, but I had no idea what to expect.

I picked this particular volunteer project because Astor Services is one of Catholic Charities’ biggest affiliates. The work they do to help children with special needs is amazing and truly inspiring. As the Social Media Specialist at Catholic Charities, I was tasked to promote this project on our social media channels and encourage followers to volunteer with us. Familiarizing myself with this project enticed me to sign up myself.

For this particular project, they teamed up with KaBOOM!, a national non-profit dedicated to ensuring that all kids get a childhood filled with the balanced and active play needed to thrive. Between Disney and KaBOOM! they’ve built over 80 playgrounds in New York already.

I arrived at the site at 8:15am worried about being late. I was driving into the Bronx from New Jersey and parking isn’t always easy, but I got there 15 minutes early. It was beautiful outside that day, but I still wondered if I was dressed for the weather. I’ve never built a playground or volunteered outside for 6 hours before.

At registration I received an Astor Services water bottle and t-shirt and walked over to eat some breakfast: bagels, muffins, orange juice and coffee were served.  Volunteers – over 100 of them - were excited and cheerful. We danced to the music the DJ was playing, anything from hip-hop to the Bee Gees, and talked to fellow volunteers.

At around 9am, all the volunteers were called over to the grassy area next to where the playground would live. To get to know each other, we played two ice breakers: rock, paper, scissors tournaments and the human-knot game. This was a great way to get to know each other and I met two other volunteers from Catholic Charities.

After getting to know a few of the other volunteers, we were split up into different groups. Some groups painted murals, other groups mixed cement, other groups built benches and picnic tables and my group assembled pieces to the playground. We truly had to work together to figure out where every bolt went.

We built slides, a dome and other pieces. After building those pieces, our team split up and helped other groups.

I went over to help assemble little picnic tables for the children. This was my favorite project because I noticed that building a bench isn’t as difficult as it seems. There’s a science to it that makes it easy to learn. I don’t think I can ever build it again without the pre-cut pieces, but I definitely learned the basics.

Our Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined us for the ribbon cutting along with other officials.

In 6 hours we built the playground for the school children.  It was incredible to see the how much work was accomplished in so little time. Together, in a single we were able to do so much!

 Looking back at the playground from the entrance on my way out, I thought about all the children who would come back to school and look at the new playground. I imagined all of the joy on their faces while they run out to play and slide down the slides. It was a great event and I hope I get to do something like this again.

Missed building the playground and want to join the fun?

Check out tons of fun volunteer opportunities Catholic Charities offers!

Gov. Cuomo Announces Crackdown on Opioid Abuse


Gov. Mario Cuomo -- joined by Catholic Charities Staten Island CEO Vincent Ignizio and fellow leaders -- visited Staten Island, the epicenter of New York City’s opioid storm, to introduce at Catholic Charities in Mt. Loretto a major crackdown in the battle against opioid abuse.

Gov. Cuomo chose Staten Island for this announcement because of the overwhelming number of opioid-related deaths here.  While New York City underwent a huge increase in the past year of opioid-caused deaths - 310% - the number in Staten Island spiked by 700%.

Losing the battle against opioids 

During his visit, Gov. Cuomo pointed out that more people died from the opioid fentanyl than from

  • The AIDS epidemic at its peak
  • Gun deaths
  • The Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq wars combined

And while heroin has become synonymous with death, the opioid fentanyl is 50 times more powerful.  Three milligrams of fentanyl – compared with 30 milligrams of heroin - can kill.

Dealers and drug makers manned with heavy artillery
  • Since fentanyl is an illegal chemical compound, dealers who manufacture and sell these opioids add new chemicals to avoid the latest definitions for illegal substances.

  • Many insurance companies enact dangerously low reimbursement limits for Naloxone, a heroin antidote that saves lives.
Fighting back, Gov. Cuomo is promoting legislation to
  • Add 11 types of fentanyl to the controlled substance list
  • Allow law enforcement to crack down harder on drug dealers
  • Direct Insurers to cover reimbursements for appropriate Naloxone opoid reversal drugs
Catholic Charities joins Gov. Cuomo, taking opioid addiction head on 

Our new Heroin Epidemic Archdiocesan Response Team,  “H.E.A.R.T,” partners with Staten Island University Hospital to provide NARCAN training for CYO coaches, referees, and any parish seeking assistance, as well as Carl's House, a Staten Island recovery center to refer those in need of treatment to a proper facility. 

The program also offers referrals for counseling services through Catholic Charities Parish Counseling Network.  This includes up to six counseling sessions for families in need for $10 per session. 

“We have to cut off the head of the snake,” Gov. Cuomo says. “This is about protecting New Yorkers from a scourge.”

View Catholic Charities resources on addiction and substance abuse.

Catholic Charities, Others Launch ‘Estoy Con Puerto Rico’- Catholic New York


On Sept. 27, Teresa Santiago, a Hispanic media and community consultant for archdiocesan Catholic Charities, gratefully learned that her 99-year-old grandmother was OK in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.

The next day, Ms. Santiago, a New York-born daughter of Puerto Rican parents, played a leading role during a relief-effort news conference at the New York Catholic Center in Manhattan.

The news conference, conducted in English and Spanish, launched the Estoy Con Puerto Rico (I am with Puerto Rico) hurricane relief effort—a multi-agency project designed to bring food, water, clothing, generators and other household essentials to hurricane victims quickly and efficiently.

Along with Catholic Charities, the lead project groups include Comite Noviembre, a consortium of Puerto Rican leaders and organizations, and the New York Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, the National Association of State Latino Chamber of Commerce and the National Supermarket Association.

“When we heard that the hurricane was going to hit, we knew we had to mobilize,” said Ms. Santiago, who is also chairwoman of Comite Noviembre.

“We’re not getting a lot of information, and they’re getting desperate,” said Ms. Santiago, speaking of owners of restaurants and other businesses in Puerto Rico.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of archdiocesan Catholic Charities, also addressed the gathering. “Puerto Rico is part of New York; New York is part of Puerto Rico. There is just a natural relationship, partnership,” Msgr. Sullivan told reporters. “It is necessary that we are here to partner with Puerto Rico, we are in solidarity…We are delighted to work with Comite Noviembre and our other partner organizations to deliver critical funds and essential items to the people suffering in Puerto Rico.”

Msgr. Sullivan noted that Catholic Charities would serve as a fiscal agent, making sure all donations go directly to hurricane victims.

Also speaking were Frank Garcia, outgoing chairman of the New York State Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, and Anthony Peña, a board member of the National Supermarket Association.

Brian Sanchez, 11, made the first donation to the Estoy Con Puerto Rico effort, organizers said. He is president of the New York Kids Chamber of Commerce and a seventh-grader at Immaculate Conception Catholic Academy in Queens. He has led an extensive fund-raising effort among his peers, and his relief efforts through social media are receiving growing support from businesses. Brian was accompanied by his mother, Idalis Bailey.

Brian thanked everyone involved in the relief effort. “And I would also like to thank God, because without him nothing is possible,” he said.

Information: Catholic Charities, (212) 371-1000.

Read More from Catholic New York

Latest Update on Puerto Rico Hurricane Recovery


From Caritas Puerto Rico

Every day Catholic Charities NY staff continue to text and call, and text and call again, not giving up despite downed telecommunication systems until we reach our sister services in Puerto Rico for regular recovery updates on how we can help .  Fortunately, we have well-established relationships with Caritas Puerto Rico (Catholic Charities Puerto Rico) as well as with our New York Foundling affiliate that serves nearly 1,500 children at 42 sites throughout the island.  

 “I have spoken with them and heard the sadness, hurt and concern for “our families” and also the immediate response and action they are taking,” says Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan.

Photos shared with us today by Caritas Puerto Rico Executive Director Father Enrique Camacho, depict not only devastation but also resilience and determination to recover.  Three weeks after Hurricane Maria slammed into Puerto Rico islanders still have almost no electric power, telecommunications or clean water.

  • Only 16% of Puerto Rico has power
  • 63% have “potable” water yet Puerto Rican EPA Director Carmen Guerrero urges everyone to boil all water used for drinking, brushing teeth, cooking and washing dinner
  • 75% of cell service is down

The need to serve and reach out to those dealing with the aftermath of these disasters is critical. Catholic Charities is taking a leadership role providing disaster recovery and relief. Catholic Charities of New York is serving as a conduit for donations for Puerto Rico Relief and Recovery efforts.

Help us help Puerto Rico 

Catholic Charities of New York is serving as a conduit for donations for Puerto Rico Relief and Recovery efforts.

Donate by Mail: Make checks payable to “Catholic Charities/Estoy Con Puerto Rico” and address to:

Catholic Charities/Estoy Con Puerto Rico, 1011 First Avenue, 11th floor, New York, NY 10022

Donate Online:  Visit 

On the web form, type “Estoy con Puerto Rico” in the text field below ”Optional: Designate Your Contribution”

Learn more about our recent disaster relief efforts:

Beacon of Hope Christmas Party


Church of the Epiphany
375 2nd Ave
New York


Catholic Charities Community Services Beacon of Hope House operates residences and a day program in Staten Island and the Bronx for approximately 400 individuals for persons with serious and persistent mental illnesses.

We are looking for compassionate volunteers to assist staff during our annual Christmas party. Volunteers are needed to:

  • Assist with set-up and break down

  • Serve food and drinks

  • Photograph groups and print and assemble photos into frames

  • Man and organize our raffle items

Sign up

Watch this video to learn more

Thanksgiving Turkey Distribution


LT. Joseph P. Kennedy Center
34 West 134th Street
New York


The annual Catholic Charities Thanksgiving Meal Distribution, which occurs the Monday before Thanksgiving, is a much anticipated event in Harlem that feeds families in need throughout the Archdiocese of New York.

Volunteers will be needed in a variety of roles:

  • Serving a boxed meal while the families wait online
  • Line Control
  • Set Up/Break Down

Sign Up

Learn More About Feeding Our Neighbors

TCS NYC Marathon: Volunteer to Cheer for Team Catholic Charities NY


2031 5th Avenue
New York


Energetic volunteers are needed to help cheer on Team Catholic Charities NY in the upcoming TCS NYC Marathon! Volunteers will be given cheer shirts and hats.

Volunteers are asked to use social media to stir up additional excitement. Be sure to like us on Facebook: CatholicCharitiesNY; Twitter: @CathCharitiesNY; and use #TeamCatholicCharities 

Sign Up

Inside Peek into Back-to-School Parties in Hunts Point


The Beautiful Thing About Learning:  No One Can Take It Away

From Staten Island to Sullivan County and on both sides of the Hudson River, Catholic Charities co-hosted Back-to-School events throughout the New York Archdiocese to prepare children we serve for success.  For a birds-eye view of these fun, sometimes life-transforming events, here is a first-person account by three of our staffers-turned-event hosts from our Preserving Housing program serving Hunts Point, one of the poorest congressional districts in the nation.


By Jasmine Sanchez, Outreach Coordinator
Amy Cabrera-Bland, Outreach Coordinator
Elba Deleon Lopez, Employment/Benefit Specialist

There’s no greater gift than giving back to the community you serve. Together we helped create a stronger, more unified community by giving school supplies to underprivileged children in need. Over 1,500 free book bags filled with supplies were distributed as well as toys, books and clothing.

Every child deserves a successful start at school and what better way than to kick it off than at our event.

The Beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you.

We hosted the Back-to-School event right before the new school year started at Bill Rainey Park in the Hunts Point neighborhood of the Bronx. Along with our local Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr., the NYPD 41st Precinct, a variety of organizations and parents and children from the community we came together as one.

The children had an amazing time enjoying the many activities we made available. We had two ice cream trucks that gave out free ice cream, an interactive game theater, a DJ, drummer, FDNY truck, Zumba instructor, and face painters.

The highlight of our event was when our Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan and Councilmember Rafael Salamanca Jr. gave out book bags to the children. The smiles on their faces were priceless.

At Catholic Charities we are very grateful to have received many donations from Stop and Shop Supermarket who gave out healthy snacks throughout the event and also donated gift cards we raffled to families. Coca-Cola also donated Mets tickets and Women’s Liberty Basketball tickets which were also raffled.

In addition, we had many organizations that attended and provided free resources such as YMCA, Girls Scouts, Workforce 1, Hunger free America, The HRA Department, The New york Public Library and more.  Also, a representative from Mayor Bill De Blasio’s office came to our event to show support to our community and organization.

Unity is strength… When there is teamwork and collaboration, many great things can be achieved.

No event is every successful without the support of the staff. We have an amazing team and we want to thank everyone for their tremendous effort in making our Back-to-School event always a success.

To those who wonder what next year’s event will hold, we say imagination has no limits. Expect the unexpected as we will always rock!

All children deserve the opportunity to develop social skills, gain confidence and develop lasting values that will serve them as adults. Catholic Charities' network of services aims to address the physical, emotional and psychological needs of children and their families.

Find out more about Catholic Charities services for children and families.

Need Other Help?

Catholic Charities Help Line:

Catholic Charities Main Office:
1011 First Avenue
11th Floor
New York, NY 10022