Update on Relief and Recovery Efforts in Puerto Rico

I would like to provide an update on the relief and recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, which is so dear to the hearts of many New Yorkers. 

One of our reasons for concern is the damage and hurt suffered by the families of the Head Start programs run by the New York Foundling at 41 sites throughout the island of Puerto Rico.  I know of the dedicated work being done by the leadership of the New York Foundling in NY, especially William Baccaglini, Jr. and Carmen Jirau-Rivera, to support these families. These efforts will continue for many years.

I was able to join Cardinal Dolan a few weeks ago to visit and show solidarity with the people of Puerto Rico.  This very brief trip, captured in the recent issue of Catholic New York, included a stop at the offices of Caritas Puerto Rico to learn of the work they are doing to provide relief throughout the country.  We were told that Caritas Puerto Rico was singled out by FEMA for their efforts because they are the only aid organization reaching out to all 75 of Puerto Rico’s municipalities.  Fr. Enrique Camacho, the Executive Director of Caritas Puerto Rico and his staff are proving extraordinary service.

This Sunday, November 19th, the Mass of Our Lady of the Divine Providence, Patroness of Puerto Rico, will be celebrated at 4:00 p.m. at Saint Patrick’s Cathedral

A special commemoration will be offered for the people of Puerto Rico who are currently suffering the effects of the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.  Fr. Enrique Camacho will serve as the celebrant and homilist of the Mass.

The numbers of persons displaced from Puerto Rico are hard to estimate.  We do know that in the past month, more than 1,100 families displaced have sought services at the New York City Reception Center that Catholic Charities has been staffing, along with City agencies. 

Catholic Charities has provided gifts cards, food, metro cards, and counseling on the services available to those relocating to New York City.  A very high priority is ensuring adequate housing for those unable to stay with family or friends.

Through the generosity of numerous donors, Catholic Charities has already been able to provide funds to both Caritas Puerto Rico and the New York Foundling for their relief efforts.  We anticipate providing additional funds shortly. 

We have also partnered with the Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Comité Noviembre to serve as a conduit for their Estoy Con Puerto Rico campaign.  I intend to accompany this group, along with few other Catholic Charities staff, in early December to visit the distant towns of Puerto Rico and make sure aid is reaching those hard to reach areas.

I ask that you keep the wonderful people of Puerto Rico in your prayers,

 

Veteran’s Day 2017

Vanessa K. Russell, Mathew “Griff” Griffin and Justin Miller

On this week’s episode of JustLove Monsignor Kevin Sullivan speaks with three guests about Veteran’s Day.

Vanessa K. Russell Chief Executive Officer  of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta will be calling into the studio. Vanessa will be speaking to Msgr. about the work that Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Atlanta  does with the significant veteran’s population in Georgia, as well as speaking about their inaugural “Help, Hoppe and Honor Campaign” that they are coordinating with Archdiocesan schools in Atlanta to educate students on the importance of Veteran’s Day, raise awareness of the charities’ Veteran’s Services Programs, and collect donations to support those programs and give back to those who gave in defense of our country. 

Also calling into the studio is Mathew “Griff” Griffin, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the “Combat Flip Flops.” “Combat Flip Flops” is a mission-based business – similar to “Tom’s Shoes” – which is dedicated to helping those in conflict zones to improve their lives through “business and not bullets.”  Griff who is also a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and a former Army Ranger, will be speaking to Msgr. Sullivan about the work of “Combat Flip Flops”, and how through manufacturing footwear in Columbia, scarfs in Kabul, Afghanistan, and jewelry in Laos, Combat Flip Flops is able to help fund girls education in Afghanistan and the removal of unexploded ordinances in Southeast Asia and other former combat zones throughout the world in partnership with Mines Advisory Group” (MAG) 

Justin Miller Co-Founder and the Director of Veterans and Military Affairs of  “Objective Zero” will be on the show. “Objective Zero” is a nonprofit that has developed a mobile app to anonymously connect veterans who may be contemplating harming themselves. The app provides suicide prevention resources and a community of veterans, counselors and other concerned citizens dedicated to listening to veteran’s concerns at their times of crisis.  Justin, who served 11 years in the armed forces including two deployments to Iraq, will be sharing his own personal struggles about returning to civilian life with Msgr. Sullivan. He will also talk about how a conversation that he had with a friend and fellow veteran during a moment of difficulty led the two of them, along with others, to develop  Objective Zero.

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Update on Hurricane recovery in the Caribbean

On this week’s episode of  JustLoveMonsignor Kevin Sullivan talks about the status of Caribbean after Hurricane Maria with two guests .

On the show Fr. Enrique Camacho, Executive Director of Caritas Puerto Rico joins us in the studio. Msgr. Sullivan and Fr. Camacho will talk about the work of Caritas Puerto Rico  and how it is helping the people of the island recover from the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria.

Cathy Howard, Section Chief of the Coordination and Response Division of the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, will be talking to Msgr. Sullivan about those who were severely impacted by Hurricane Maria including citizens of Dominica.

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Halloween 2017

Dr. Michael Oberschneider & Tony, Anthony, and Deanne Alfano

On this week’s episode of JustLove, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan hosts a Halloween themed show with two guests.

On the show, child psychologist and children’s author, Dr. Michael Oberschneider will talk about some of the factors behind a child’s choice of what to dress up as. Monsignor Sullivan will also talk with Oberschneider about the most significant aspects of celebrating Halloween in the US, 

Also joining the show is Deanna Alfano, mother of Anthony Alfano who is known for his elaborate Halloween costumes in the news . Deanna will talk about how her and her husband Tony create costumes that incorporate Anthony’s wheelchair. Her and Monsignor will also talk about how Halloween has become the one day of the year that people can “stop looking at the wheelchair and just see the boy in the costume.” 

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International Poverty

Jonathan Glennie, Tess Hart and Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D. on JustLove

Jonathan Glennie, Tess Hart and Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D.

On this week’s episode, Monsignor Sullivan speaks with three guests about international poverty.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan will be talking to Henry Schwalbenberg, Ph.D. and Tess Hart about Fordham University’s 2017 Pope Francis Global Poverty Index, a multi-dimensional measurement of international poverty. It relies on seven primary indicators of material well-being and spiritual well-being, which itself is based upon measures that Pope Francis proposed in his speech delivered to the United Nation’s General Assembly back on September 25th, 2015.

Also on the show is Jonathan Glennie, Director of the Sustainable Development Research Center at the Ipsos Sustainable Development Research Centre in Londo. Monsignor Sullivan will be speaking with Jonathan about an article that he wrote for The Guardian entitled: “The Saddest Thing in the World is not Poverty, It’s a Loss of Dignity.”

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National Bullying Prevention Month

Bailey Lindgren & John Guenther

This week’s episode of Justlove will focus on observing National Bullying Prevention Month.

On the phone, Bailey Lindgren, PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center Associate, a national training and information center dedicated to bullying prevention located in Minniapolis, Minnesota will be on be joining us. Msgr. andBailey will be speaking about the work of the organization’s, National Bullying Prevention month happening during the month of October. They’ll also focus on what parents, families, and children can do to end the scourge of bullying in their classrooms and communities.

John Guenther, who is Managing Director of Executive Communications at BNY Mellon will be in the studio. Msgr. Sullivan and John will be talking about lessons on bullying and life that John himself learned from reconnecting with someone who had bullied him in high school – 25 years earlier, who now was now in prison, incarcerated for life without parole

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Hurricane Relief in Puerto Rico

Edwin Melendez, Ph.D. & Assemblyman Marcos Crespo

On this week’s episode of JustLove, Monsignor Sullivan speak with two guests focused on hurricane disaster relief in Puerto Rico. 

On the show Assemblyman Marcos Crespo who represents the fifth district in the Bronx and East Harlem is on the show. He shares his experiences with Msgr. Kevin Sullivan on joining Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the first relief flight to Puerto Rico two days after Hurricane Maria hit the island

Also appearing on the show is Edwin Melendez, Ph.D., Professor of Urban Affairs and Planning  and Director of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. Msgr. Sullivan and Prof. Melendez will be discussing the impact that Hurricane Maria has had Puerto Rico as well as the island’s economic struggles 

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This Week: The Glass is More Than Half Empty

 

This week the glass is more than half empty for me!

After the devastation caused last week by natural disasters, Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and by the student stabbings in the Bronx, I, like so many others, am deeply pained.

I spent a good part of this week working on how Catholic Charities of NY might be of support for the individuals and families suffering in Puerto Rico.  Some of my time was spent talking with elected officials and staff in Washington D.C., other time with nonprofit and business leaders. Both the sadness and resolve was intense. 
 
Particularly strong prayer and solidarity goes out to one of our NY Catholic Charities affiliates, the NY Foundling.  The destruction in Puerto Rico hits especially close to home for this agency that serves nearly 1,500 children through Head Start and Early Head Start programs at 42 locations 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. We are committed to figuring out the best way to lend our support.  Fortunately, we have a well-established relationship with Catholic Charities – (Caritas) of Puerto Rico.  While suffering themselves, they are there on the ground and positioned to help. We have talked with them and are arranging help and support through a number of partnerships.

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Closing Riker’s Island and Prison Reform

JoAnne Page & Liza Jessie Peterson

On this week’s episode of JustLove, Monisgnor Sullivan speaks with two guests focused on the Closing of Riker’s Island and issues surrounding Prison Reform:

Calling into the studio, JoAnne Page, President CEO of The Fortune Society a New York City-based non-profit that advocates for and provides services to the formerly incarcerated. On the show Msgr. and JoAnne talk about recent discussions surrounding the closure of Riker’s Island – New York City’s 413 acre facility administered by the Department of Corrections where on any given day 9,500 people – the bulk of the city’s prisoners. They also discuss how feasible the plans to close Riker’s Island are, and what priorities should drive this initiative if it is truly to benefit and rehabilitate those behind bars.

Poet, Playwright, and Educator, Liza Jessie Peterson joins Monsignor in the Studio. Liza Jessie Peterson has dedicated over 15 years of her life to teaching creative writing and poetry to incarcerated youth, including those held on Riker’s Island; Liza is also the writer and performer of the one-woman play “The Peculiar Patriot” – which is now playing at the at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. The story  follows’ the protagonist – Betsy LaQuanda Ross – over a series of visits to incarcerated friends where she shares family milestones and neighborhood gossip while revealing a shrewd indictment of the criminal justice system. Msgr. Sullivan and Liza talked about her inspiration for writing and performing “The Peculiar Patriot” which sprung from her own experiences and observations from working in and around the prison system.

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Responding in Charity to Successive Storms

Kim Burgo & Fred Parrella

On this episode of JustLove Monsignor Sullivan will discuss both the recovery efforts taking place in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, as well in Florida in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. He will speak about the changing context of marriage and family.

Calling in to the studio is Kim Burgo Vice President for Disaster Response Operations for Catholic Charities USA. She will be talking about the impact that Hurricane Harvey has had on coastal Texas and its surrounding areas as well as the impact that Hurricane Irma has had on the Florida how Catholic Charities USA is helping local Catholic Charities agencies respond to the storms, and how listeners can help as well.

Joining in the studio is Fred Parrella,  a Professor of Moral Theology in the Department of Religious Studies at Santa Clara University. Msgr. Sullivan and Professor Parrella will be talking about the changing context of marriage and family.

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