Blog

Meet Katie, Makayla and the Fernandez Families

Posted on April 30, 2019 by Alice Kenny  |  Share

See This Snapshot of Those Helped by Catholic Charities

Mere stairs, as forbidding as a concrete wall, blocked Katie from ever visiting her daughter, Makayla at school.  Trapped in a wheelchair ever since a car sideswiped hers on the New Jersey Turnpike, Katie was paralyzed from the waist down. A stair, even one, proved enough to bar her, year after year, from attending her daughter’s plays, back-to-school meetings and birthday celebrations at her public school.

Fortunately, St. Ignatius School, a Jesuit-sponsored tuition-free middle school in the South Bronx  affiliated with Catholic Charities, welcomed Katie into its student body.  The school offers supports typically associated with elite private schools including before and after-school tutoring, upstate summer camp and one-on-one help getting into topnotch high schools and colleges.

But for Katie, what mattered most was she could see it firsthand.

“The fact that the school is accessible so I am able to go and actually meet the teacher, the principal and other students and go parent-teacher conferences,” Katie says, “for me it was like oh, my God, I can do it!”

Meet Katie and her daughter, Makayla, a miniature version of her mom, in this powerful video shared at Catholic Charities NY’s recent gala.

Looking for more inspiration?  Meet the Fernandez family, a tight trio of dad, mom and teenage daughter, in this video as well.  They fled India after a vicious sectarian attack against them because of their Catholic faith left Mr. Fernandez with a fractured college, Ms. Fernandez with a serious head injury, and their daughter, Aiswarya, 11 years old at the time, partially paralyzed.

Catholic Charities NY immigration staff is helping the family apply for asylum and acclimate to their new lives in New York.  The family, in turn, poor, living in a homeless shelter but empowered by Catholic Charities’ help, travels to Penn Station twice a month to share food with homeless people who congregate there. 

“Like us, they dream of many things,” Aiswarya says.  “Even though they are poor, they also have a big dream in their minds.”