"I Want My Kids to Have a Home"

Posted on April 3, 2017 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

Meet Anissa Introduced at the Catholic Charities Orange and Sullivan Gala

After a fire burned Anissa and her children out of their inner-city apartment, the difference between their family staying together and being torn apart all came down to whether they could rent a ranch so humble that not a single shrub grew on the lot, so small that its single-car attached garage was boarded up to make more living space.

Catch the powerful story she shared in a video debued at the Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County gala last week that honored Catholic Charities’ centennial of serving New Yorkers, such as her family, in need.

“I had a fire four years ago and I’ve struggled every step of the way,” she says about her move from Newburgh plagued by poverty and violence to their small but safe Marlboro home.

I could’ve stayed in Newburgh and I could have made it where I’m paying $900 a month and could’ve had mold in my bedroom where my kids are sick sleeping in one room with an electric blanket,” she says, her blond hair pulled tight in a pony tail and her face taught as she explains why she came to Catholic Charities.  “Or I can have nothing and put my children in a better environment. Those are the choices I have to make.”

Families confronted by a crisis often feel helpless. Catholic Charities provides accurate and timely information and referrals, and will help advocate for the services required by a family. Catholic Charities crisis experts help individuals and families plan long-term solutions to immediate problems through counseling and financial assistance.


Anissa Makes the Tough Choice

“If I make $16,000 a year and where I live now it costs me $15,000 to live that means I have a thousand left for electric, gas, food.  That’s hard,” she says as she greets her young son and daughter when they jump off the school bus and run into their new home.

“I get $200 in food stamps and at beginning of the month when I get it I buy the bulk of my meat. Then I go to (Catholic Charities) pantries to get canned goods. You just find a way.”


Funds So Tight There’s None Left for Beds

“The Department of Social Services told the parents we had to have something adequate for the kids to sleep on so I went to Catholic Charities.  Ally, (the case manager) came up front and she brought me to the back.

“I told her my story she said ‘Oh my God, if you’re going to be the last person we can help this year we’re going to do this.’

She helped. I remember when they did the inspection on the house she said this perfect. She made it all happen. Without them we don’t even know if the kids would’ve been able to come home.  That saved our family.  That was amazing.”


Catholic Charities Saved Her Family

“You know how many times I come to Catholic Charities and they give my kids clothes, books, sheets, blankets. I can’t do that for my children all the time. So to come and get that little bit of help and they help all the time,” she says between breaks helping her son and daughter with homework.

“It’s a blessing and I’m thankful for them.”


A Place to Knock Where the Door Is Always Open

“I want my kids to have a house even if it’s a one bedroom that they can say ‘I have a place to rest my head that’s always going to be there; I know I can on knock on that door and it’s going to open’; to never feel homeless; to never live without that’s what I want just for them.”

That Alissa, her children, all children, and all families always have a home is what Catholic Charities wants as well.

“In order to have a good home you have to have hope,” says Catholic Charities of Orange & Sullivan County Board Vice Chairman and Pepsi VP & COO Tom Strahle. “Hope can be a hard commodity when you’re faced with having to live in a place that’s not safe, or secure, or dry or warm enough. Catholic Charities is important because we’re able to do things when no one else in can.”


Help is a team effort
  • The United States is the richest nation in the world has ever known accounting for over 41% of total global person wealth.
  • Yet 1 in 3 Americans, like Alissa and her family, live close at or below the poverty line


Catholic Charities’ mission to help them get by

“Catholic Charities does not have an endless bank account,” says ShopRite VP  Thomas Urtz. “It’s important to know that they rely on donations.  They rely on every individual doing what they can making a difference.”

At the gala where the video with Anissa’s story was shared, formally called “Catholic Charities of Orange and Sullivan’s 11th Anniversary Celebration of Charity,” more than 400 guests helped make this difference.  Netting over $92,000, the money will be raised to support Catholic Charities anti-poverty programs including emergency food and shelter assistance in Orange and Sullivan Counties for families, like Anissa’s, in need.

“It could be the person at the carwash.  It could be the person at the diner that might be working a minimum wage job 70 -80 hours a week just to scrape by and Catholic Charities comes in to those families and helps them get through the toughest time in their life,” says Catholic Charities Orange & Sullivan Board Member and Senior Mediacom VP Thomas Larson.  “These people (at Catholic Charities) are literally driving the trucks to deliver the furniture.  They are providing the counseling.  They are paying the bills for a lot of families that can’t afford to do so.”

Learn more about Catholic Charities Community Services of Orange County