L-R: Shannon Kelly Director of Catholic Charities Community Services Hudson Valley Services; Beatriz Diaz Taveras Executive Director of Catholic Charities Community Services; Adriano Espaillat; Myself; Luz Tavarez-Salazar Director of Government and Community Relations
I, along with a few other Catholic Charities staff, went to D.C. last week for the inauguration not of the President that takes place January 20th but of the new 115th Congress on January 3rd. The media made so little of this swearing in of 52 new members in the legislative branch of government, you almost could have ignored it. I went because I was invited to two of these swearing in ceremonies – one for a Republican from the Hudson Valley, John Faso, and one for a Democrat from Washington Heights, Adriano Espaillat.
I delivered one of the invocations at Congressman Espaillat’s swearing in event. My view on invocations and political events is simple: Engage often, endorse rarely, and pray always. When it comes to politicians and elected officials, they and we - their constituents- can always use a prayer for God’s help. I might add that the more problematic they are and the more we disagree with their policies, the more prayer is needed. But that is just my opinion. So when invited to pray I do so. I’ve done it for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Enough about invocations.
Let me pause for a moment to discuss these two new members of Congress – very different – and yet both committed to represent their people and their concerns. John Faso has a long history in New York State government from the Republican side of the aisle. He is well respected for his competence as an elected official. He seems positioned to continue this record of service in D.C.
JustLove Celebrates Martin Luther King Jr. & National Migration Week
L-R: Laura Garcia & Br. Tyrone Davis
On this week's episode of JustLove, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan speaks with Br. Tyrone Davis, Director of the Office of Black Ministry of the Archdiocese of New York and Laura Garcia, Racial Justice Program Manager of the YMCA in Orange County, New York. On the show, Br. Tyrone talks with Monsignor about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and particularly what young people today know – and in some cases, don’t know – about this Civil Rights icon. In light of National Migration Week, Laura Garcia will be talking about her and her family's experiences with immigration and DACA's (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) future.
To learn more about the topics of the show, visit the following links:
On JustLove, in order to review 2016 and look forward into 2017, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan will be speaking with two guests: Mary Poovey, Ph.D, Samuel Rudin University Professor in the Humanities at New York University and Fr. Jim McDermott, S.J. a Jesuit of the Wisconsin Province and Los Angeles Correspondent for America Magazine. On the show, Ms. Poovey focuses on the history of “facts”, and how social media – among other factors – has eroded trust in “experts” by the public. Fr. Jim McDermott, S.J. will be talking about pop culture celebrities who passed away in 2016 and how they are considered as sort of “secular saints.”
On JustLove this week, Monsignor Sullivan speaks with two guests: Pat Keay of Director of Community Engagement of Heifer International and Professor David A. Croteau, Ph.D. of Columbia International University in South Carolina. On the show Pat Keay speaks with Monsignor Sullivan about Heifer International – a charity that donates livestock as well as environmentally sound agricultural training to families in need around the world. Heifer International also partners with Churches and other faith based and civic organizations to support their mission and how JustLove listeners can also contribute. Professor Croteau discusses his book “Urban Legends of the New Testament: 40 Common Misconceptions” and popular beliefs regarding Jesus’ Nativity.
Scot Tatelman with wife, Jacqueline & Sterling McDavid
On this week's show Monsignor Sullivan will be speaking with two guests about Christmas shopping and socially conscience items to consider. On the show is Sterling McDavid CEO and Founder of The Starling Project – a Brooklyn-based “social good” candle line. A portion of the proceeds goes to providing solar energy to rural communities in the developing world. Sterling talks with Monsignor about her work with The Starling Project, what inspired her to start the company, and the success they have had so far in providing rural communities in Chad with solar power to provide light, energy and pump clean water to their villages. Also on the show is Scot Tatelman – who is the Founder and Owner along with his wife Jacqueline of STATE. STATE is a “benefit corporation” that produces bags and backpacks for men, women and children. Scot will be talking about his company and how it gives back to youth; as well as how the company is forming partnerships with organizations like Beyonce’s #BeyGood charitable movement.A special offer for JustLove Listeners:Receive a 15% discount on any candles. Visitwww.starlingproject.org and use the discount code: starlinglovesyou
On JustLove Monsignor Kevin Sullivan focuses on Fidel Castro and World AIDS Day and with guests Ada Ferrer Professor of History of Latin American and Caribbean Studies at NYU and Katherine Marshall, Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs. On the show Ada Ferrer discusses Castro's historical legacy is, and what his passing might mean for the Island nation. Katherine Marshall speaks with Monsignor about the impact that HIV/AIDS has had on economic and development issues in the developing world, and how anti-retroviral treatment has enable countries adversely impacted by HIV/AIDS to recover not only medically, but economically and socially as well.Listen Now:
On this week's JustLove episode, Monsignor Sullivan will be speaking with two guests about Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Barbara Turk who is Director of Food Policy for New York City’s Office of the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services will be talking about the work of the of the New York City Office of Food Policy and what her Office is doing to ensure that every New Yorker has access to affordable and nutritious food. Also on the show is Christopher Cox who is Campaign Manager of The Human Thread - a Catholic advocacy organization dedicated to fostering Catholic awareness of labor and safety issues effecting garment workers in the developing world promoting solidarity between consumers of clothing and the people that produce them. He will be speaking with Msgr. about his organization's current postcard campaign urging consumers to encourage Macy's and Kohls add fair trade clothing items to their stores. The campaign began on Labor Day and concludes on this Friday – Black Friday - November 25th
On JustLove, three guests speak with Monsignor Sullivan about their thoughts on the 2016 Election. Anthony Davis, Team Leader of Material Logistics Management at Jeep Automotive and Roberto Welch, a Baker at a start-up pie company talk about expectations, hopes and direction after the November 8th. Welch provides thoughts from a millenial's perspective whereas Davis provides his perspective from an older working-class generation. Also on the show is Mayerlin Almonte, Esq. who is the Co-Founder of Immigration Counsels, LLC. She also talks about the recent election and its impact on immigration
Catholic Charities is well known for extensive high quality services that touch almost every human need. Another part of mission is probably less known: partnering to build a just and compassionate society through economic and community development.
Today we focused on this lesser known part of our mission. We partnered to raise our awareness and show solidarity to one of the most troubled barrios of San Juan, La Perla. Its reputation for drugs, poverty, violence and lack of opportunity is infamous. A Franciscan priest, decades ago, began to organize to address these issues. Catholic Charities took the lead in organizing a moving walking tour of this historic barrio with approximately 50 SOMOS participants led by a current community organizer Angel Marcano and a volunteer, former NYC Housing Commissioner Bill Alicea.
This neighborhood has such strong emotional reverberations for many Puerto Ricans. It was the birthplace and home of NYS Assemblyman Jose Rivera who joined us on the tour. He pointed out his home and school. He showed us the part of the beach he swam in after school.
This is just a glimpse of our visit. I will probably write more in the future.
Currently, many positive changes can be seen in this barrio with a checkered history and bad reputation, natives and tourists alike were discouraged from visiting. We were told that within the past 3 years much of the drug trafficking has been cleaned up and a renewed sense of the community is emerging. But this positive story comes with threats.
Continue reading →
This year on "Election Day + 1, as our nation focused on the results of this brutal election, Catholic Charities brought our Feeding Our Neighbors program to help one of the most economically hard hit parts of our country, Puerto Rico. Catholic Charities staff and volunteers from the SOMOS annual conference in Puerto Rico provided thousands of meals to families served by The New York Foundling's Cardinal O'Connor Head Start program in the area of Santurce among others.
Under the leadership of NYS Assemblyman Marco Crespo and Assemblywoman Maritza Davila, the annual SOMOS conference now includes a volunteer service project in a community in Puerto Rico. Catholic Charities has been proud to be a lead partner in these projects that demonstrate solidarity between the people of New York and Puerto Rico. Luz Tavarez, Catholic Charities’ Director of Government and Community Relations has effectively taken the lead in developing these partnerships and coordinating these projects.
This year's project highlighted the approach of Catholic Charities agencies to always be attentive to the needs of the families we are serving. In 1973, about a century after its start, one of the oldest and highest quality Catholic Charities agencies, The New York Foundling extended its services to Puerto Rico to help a significant number of families in New York who were returning to the island. In the 1980's and 90's The New York Foundling established and expanded its Head Start programs so that today they are at 23 different sites in four different communities that serve almost 1,000 children and their families each year. This impactful work in Puerto Rico is done under the capable leadership of Carmen Villafane and her staff.
The creativity and quality seen at these programs is emblematic of the overall high quality and creative programs of The New York Foundling throughout the neighborhoods of the NY metropolitan area under the leadership of Bill Baccaglini. This work continues the compassionate and professional legacy of the Sisters of Charity in serving those in need.
This modest "Election Day + 1" volunteer service project is an important reminder that the overwhelming obsession with politics that has dominated the media needs to now make room for seeing and reaching out to our neighbors and better understanding their concerns and needs.