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Catholic Charities New York and Guild for the Blind Aid Shop Owner Recover from Government Shutdown

Kamil’s Café, located in the Varick Street Immigration Court in Manhattan, has been in business for over 18 years. However, the recent government shutdown almost put an end to all that. The proprietor Kamil is blind and when faced with 34 days of lost income and spoiled stock, he was about to loose everthing. That is until Catholic Charities of New York, the Catholic Guild for the Blind, and Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight learned about his predicament.

Kamal, who asked that his last name not be published, is one of several visually impaired concession stand owners working in federal buildings in New York State, one of tens of thousands of nongovernmental workers dependent on government contracts or employees not reimbursed for unwanted time off.  Many, scraping by through work at the bottom rungs of the economic ladder like Kamal, became economically devastated when the shutdown cut more than one-twelfth of their annual pay. They fell behind in rent, facing possible loss not only of their business but of their home as well.

Fortunately, New York State Commission for the Blind learned about the blind vendors’ predicament and reached out to Catholic Guild for the Blind for help and looped in  Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight, a grant maker that provides support to organizations working to improve the lives of blind and visually impaired individuals, for funding. A partnership formed. Catholic Charities Guild for the Blind is reaching out to concession stand owners, determining their losses and administering funds.

Read more about Kamil's story and how Catholic Charities is lending a hand in our Catholic Charities Blog.

Learn more about the robust program offerings for the visually and hearing impaired at the Catholic Charities of New York.