Bringing Light & Hope to Refugees & Victims of Human Trafficking

On this week’s episode of JustLove, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan focuses on supporting Refugees & Victims of Human Trafficking with Alice Min Soo Chun

Alice  is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Solight Designs – a for-profit company based in New York that manufactures the “Solar Puff” – a portable/ foldable two-ounce flat-packing solar powered light.  

Msgr. Sullivan and Alice will be speaking to us about her invention of the Solar Puff, what inspired her to invent it, and how the Solar Puff has proven to be an incredibly useful tool for providing reliable, safe and affordable lighting to people and families experiencing humanitarian crisis such as the earthquake in Haiti (where the Solar Puff was first used), to its current use of providing lighting – and therefore safety – to Syrian and other refugees in Europe and elsewhere.

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Villa Altagracia – Apparel Factory & Workers – Day 4

The day began with three generations of the Hodge family, 11 of us, and luggage, crowded into a mini-bus for a two and a half hour trip from La Romana to Villa Altagracia in San Cristobal, located outside of Santo Domingo. The driver had an interesting approach that included driving ten miles in the wrong direction, slowing down on open highways and speeding up in crowded city streets. Oh well. 

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Our Visit to Hogar Niños de Cristo – Day 3

Today, we spent the day with 36 boys and young men who now call Niños de Cristo and their dedicated staff their home.  We were joined by Donnie Hodge and his wife Ana.  Donny is the owner of Altagracia Apparel.  I’ll write more about this tomorrow after we visit his “fair wage and working conditions” factory in Villa Altagracia and talk with some of the families whose lives have been changed because of these jobs. 

Sadly, some children cannot be raised and nurtured safely with their own families for many different reasons.  Niños de Cristo provides the “family” for about 40 of these youth in the Dominican Republic.  This home is located in the countryside of La Romana, about 1 hour west of Punta Cana.  The home is only 4 years old and took the place of a much more crowded and outdated facility.  This one is simple, clean and warm with a great amount of open outdoor space.  (This is not what we New Yorkers are used to.) Speaking of New Yorkers, the facility’s current psychologist, Karina, is a transplanted New Yorker – Dominican Republic born, but New York raised and educated. Two years ago she returned to the Dominican Republic and is now the on-site psychologist trying to help these youth that have experienced hurt and scars rebuild lives.  Karina guided us through the facility and she demonstrated knowledge, competence, and compassion. These same qualities were present in the home’s program director, Franklin, who oversees the day-to-day life of the home.  He clearly knew everybody by name and they knew him.  He was not a distant administrator but a caring professional that understands the individuality of each young person under the care of Niños de Cristo.  This sense seemed to flow through all the staff we met at the orphanage.

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Our Visit to the GOYA Plant in Santo Domingo – Day 2

Our generous partner in feeding hungry New Yorkers, GOYA Foods, invited us to tour its plant in the Dominican Republic.  This provided an opportunity to see one of their busy factories that employs about 500 people. In addition to seeing the hard working men and women on the floor of the plant we also met the factory administrators. We also saw the finca (land) where gauyabas (guava) are grown. 

I was accompanied on the tour by the director of quality control, a chemical engineer, charged with complying with regulations of both the Dominican Republic and the United States. He said most of the product from this factory is shipped to the United States. He also proudly spoke to me of the care that is taken to ensure no contamination enters into the products. And he shared with me the sad reality of the added precautions required to protect against intentional poisoning as a terrorist action. 

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Catholic Charities Joins Goya Foods and Maestro Cares in the Dominican Republic – Day 1

boys in Dominican Republic

In partnership with Goya Foods and Maestro Cares, singer Marc Anthony’s non-profit organization that works to improve the quality of life for 

orphaned children throughout Latin America, Catholic Charities visits the Dominican Republic to learn more about the children and the work of Maestro Cares. Msgr. Kevin Sullivan illustrates his first day on the island.

Stay tuned throughout the week for more updates from the trip.

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The Human Costs of Climate Change & Contamination

Andrea Bruce & Joseph Majkut

On this week’s episode of JustLove, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan will be speaking with two guests focused on the human costs of climate change and contamination.

Joseph Majkut, Ph.D., Director of Climate Science at the Niskanen Center, a policy think-tank based in Washington D.C. will be joining us. Msgr. Sullivan and Joseph will be speaking to us about how the warming climate will likely aggravate inequalities between regions and communities in the United States – with Texas, Florida, the deep South and coastal communities bearing the brunt of the negative impact of increasing temperatures 

Documentary Photographer Andrea Bruce who uses the medium of photography to bring attention to people living in the aftermath of famine, war and environmental and natural disasters will be on the show. Andrea and Msgr. Sullivan will be speaking to us about the assignment she recently undertook on behalf of National Geographic Magazine to document the efforts of communities in India, Haiti and Vietnam to increase sanitation and ensure water safety 

Pope Francis’ Call for Catholics to Become “Missionary Disciples”

In Every Facet of Their Lives

Kerry Robinson & Hosffman Ospino

Kerry Robinson & Hosffman Ospino

On this episode of JustLove, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan focuses on Pope Francis’ vision of “missionary discipleship” for Catholics. 

Hosffman Ospino Ph.D. Associate Professor of Theology and Religious Studies and Director of the Graduate Program in Hispanic Ministry at Boston College will be on JustLove. Professor Ospino will be talking about the meaning of “missionary discipleship,” and how it is lived out in an increasingly secular and culturally diverse society like our own. 

Kerry Robinson, the Founding Executive Director and Global Ambassador of the Leadership Roundtable will also be on this week’s episode of JustLove. Her organization is dedicated to promoting excellence and best practices in the Catholic Church by harnessing the expertise of senior level executives. Msgr. Sullivan and Kerry will be talking about both the role of women in the Church as well as what things we can do to encourage young adults to live out Pope Francis’ vision of “missionary discipleship” in every facet of their lives 

Economic Inequality and Some of Its Causes

Alex Armlovichm & Shekar Narasimhan

On this week’s episode of Just Love Monsignor Sullivan cover’s issues surrounding economic inequality with two guests. 

Joining the show is Shekar Narasimhan Managing Partner of Beekman Advisors – a Virginia based strategic advisory service firm concentrating in the areas of real estate development, mortgage finance and affordable housing. Msgr. and Shekar will be talking about income inequality and particularly how the cost of housing – and especially rental housing – is one of the keys to addressing the needs of those on the lower end of the income scale.

Also on the show is Alex Armlovichm, a Fellow at the  Manhattan Institute where he concentrates on writing about urban issues such as housing policy, transportation and infrastructure. Msgr. Sullivan and Alex will also be examining income inequality on the local level here in New York City, and whether or not Mayor de Blasio’s stated intention to address the “Tale of Two Cities” he spoke of at his inauguration in December of 2014 have decreased income inequality in substantive ways during his time as Mayor.

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Using Technology to Fulfill Our Civic Duties & Counter Gun Violence

Kathryn Peters & Amber Goodwin

On this week’s JustLove, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan speaks with two guests focused on civic duties and countering gun violence in the U.S.

Kathryn Peters, Co-Founder of Democracy Works will be talking about the work and mission of her organization. Democracy Works is a Brooklyn based non-partisan non-profit organization founded in 2010 with the goal of “making voting fit the way we live.” The nonprofit aims to make voting a simple, seamless experience for all Americans so that no eligible voter misses an election. Its team of software developers, public policy wonks and civic organizers design tools meant to upgrade the tech infrastructure of our democracy, thus improving the voting experience for voters and election officials alike.

Amber Goodwin, Founding Director of Community Justice Reform Coalition is also on the show. Community Justice Reform Coalition is a Washington D.C based national advocacy coalition which promotes and invests in evidence based programs to prevent gun-violence and uplift criminal justice reforms in urban communities of color. Msgr. Sullivan and Amber will be discussing these efforts of her coalition, and particularly the work of Operation L.I.P.S.T.I.C.K. (“Ladies Involved in Putting a Stop to Inner-City Killing”) a community-based organization where Amber currently sits on its board. L.I.P.S.T.I.C.K. uses peer-to-peer education and leadership development to inform women and girls of the dangers of gun violence and weapons trafficking.

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International Trade & the Re-negotiation of NAFTA

Raja Bhala & Eric LeCompte 

International trade and the re-negotiation of NAFTA is the focus on this week’s JustLove show on Sirius XM 129. Monsignor Kevin Sullivan invites two guests to speak: Raj Bhala, J.D., Associate Dean of International and Comparative Law and Rice Distinguished Professor of the University of Kansas’s School of Law; and Eric LeCompte, Executive Director of the Jubilee USA Network , a development coalition of more than 650 religious groups and U.S. civil society organizations.

On the show Professor Bhala will be talking about plans for re-negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the Mexican and Canadian governments.  Monsignor Sullivan and Bhala will discuss what these negotiations will mean for industries like sugar production and its employees – both in the United States and Mexico; and what this may portend for future international trade negotiations under the Trump Administration. 

Eric LeCompte will cover the Jubliee USA Network’s mission on financial accountability and transparency in international debt relief and trade agreements. Msgr. Sullivan and Eric will also particularly  focus on the Network’s interest in ensuring that all trade agreements and debt crisis legislation – like that effecting Puerto Rico – benefits all people – particularly the most vulnerable.

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