Helping, Fixing or Serving?

Helping, Fixing or Serving?

by Mike Melara, Executive Director

My daughter, who is majoring in Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Scranton, recently sent me an article by Rachel Remen.  I thought to myself, in my most condescending voice, “How cute of Juliana to send me this article.”  And then I read the piece.  And I was humbled.  Not by any significant revelation.  But more by the fact that the article describes how our staff, my staff, work every day at Catholic Charities.  Remen says, “Helping, fixing, and serving represent three different ways of seeing life.  When you help, you see life as weak.  When you fix, you see life as broken.  When you serve, you see life as whole.  Fixing and helping may be the work of the ego, but service is the work of the soul.”

We serve over 20,000 people every year at Catholic Charities, ranging in age from infants to senior citizens.  We work with those members of our community who are most vulnerable and in greatest need.  But it is the way we work with them that matters the most.  Remen nails it when she states,

“Service rests on the premise that the nature of life is sacred, that life is a holy mystery which has an unknown purpose.  From the perspective of service, we are all connected.  All suffering is like my suffering and all joy is like my joy.  Serving is different from helping.  Helping is not a relationship between equals.  A helper may see others as Mike Melara Headshot 2017weaker than they are, needier than they are, and people often feel this inequity.”  In the process of “helping” we may diminish the other’s self-esteem, their sense of worth, integrity or even wholeness.

At Catholic Charites, we share the same humanity as the people we serve.  We recognize ourselves in them.  Service is a relationship between equals.  And our service strengthens us as well as others.

 

Mike Melara is Executive Director of Catholic Charities of Onondaga County. 

Love Mouity – From Refugee to Staff Member

Love Mouity – From Refugee to Staff Member

Love Mouity has degrees from several colleges: SU’s Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Onondaga Community College and a few universities in Paris. The degrees from Paris are good ones, but didn’t translate well in the American job market. So, when he arrived in Syracuse as a refugee from the Republic of the Congo 11 years ago, he went back to school. His Bachelor’s from Maxwell is in International Relations with a specialization in International Security and Diplomacy. He shrugs off the suggestion that this is a lot of years of schooling to go through.

Catholic Charities’ Executive Director Mike Melara (left) and Love Mouity

“I like to be living proof to my peers, the newcomers,” Love says, speaking of refugees who are currently resettling through our Refugee Services.  “I like to be able to show that with will and confidence, you can make it.”

Love cares deeply about the success and well-being of today’s refugees. In addition to leading by example, he works for our Refugee Services to assist new arrivals as a Health Care Assistant Coordinator. In this position, he helps recently arrived refugees attend doctor’s appointments and serves as an advocate and translator. (He speaks, in varying degrees, 7 languages.) He’s been in the position for a year.

“It is a way to give back to the organization,” he says. “I had always hoped to be able to do that.”

Love came to Syracuse with two of his brothers. One is now a financial advisor and the other is an engineer. Occasionally, he says, it occurs to him that he could leave Central New York, go to New York City or Washington, D.C. and maybe seek new opportunities. Whenever these thoughts occur, though, his ultimate conclusion is the same.

“I am a Syracusan,” says Love. “I love this city.”

Love’s dedication and his unique skills and life experience mean he is especially well-suited to helping others. In that way, he is like any member of our staff. Not all are so aptly named, of course, with the notable exception of CYO staff members Wisdom and Hope. Other staff members joke tongue-in-cheek that the days where the CYO has Wisdom but no Hope or Love are rather bleak, but thankfully, those days are few and far between.

Every day in all of our programs, we rely on a unique team to live out our dedication to serving the most vulnerable people in our community.  It is an honor to count dedicated, compassionate people like Love among our members.

 

Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications and Community Outreach Coordinator 

Refugees Services and School Preparation

Refugees Services and School Preparation

Above, a staff member helps a young girl with homework after school.

Tarana* is a bright, determined 18-year-old. She is also an Afghani refugee from Pakistan. She arrived in Syracuse just two months ago with no English skills and limited formal education.

CYO Summer Academy students pose after their graduation ceremony.

Starting a new school as a teenager is undeniably challenging. Doing so in a new language and culture is more so. But Tarana is determined to succeed.

Before starting high school, Tarana was enrolled in “Academy” at the CYO (our Refugee Services Center). Academy is a month-long course designed to help youth like Tarana make the transition into American schools. It includes English language classes and introduction to American school culture. For refugee youth, many of whom have spent years in refugee camps, formal schooling conventions are unfamiliar. Tarana learned quickly. As Case Manager Lydia Andrews helped Taraba get to high school on her first day, Tarana showed off her English. She said “Hello! How are you? Good morning,” and, finally, “From CYO.” Her new knowledge, she meant, had been gained through the Academy program.

Refugee Services staff have been impressed by Tarana’s resilience. “She’s eager to take advantage of the educational opportunities she’s heard are available to her in the American system,” says Lydia. “Similar opportunities were difficult for her to access in Pakistan.”

“She has already grown so much in just a few weeks of class and life in America,” says Lydia. “We look forward to hearing more about her success.”

 

Support this and other Catholic Charities’ Programs

 

 

*name has been changed

Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator

Project Joseph at the Cathedral

Project Joseph at the Cathedral

Above, members of the Project Joseph team tend to St. Agnes Cemetery in late summer 2016.

Our Project Joseph team works on a wide variety of jobs throughout the county. They do maintenance and renovations at Catholic Charities properties, repair stones in cemeteries, remove snow at vacant properties and more. Last week, though, they were assigned a special, last minute task. Retired Syracuse Bishop James Moynihan had passed away, and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception needed to be in top shape for his funeral.

The challenge? The cathedral is undergoing extensive renovations. Last week they were in the midst of repainting the ceiling. There was scaffolding reaching up to the 50 foot vaulted ceilings and drop cloths across the floor. There was dust coating everything, and the Diocese was expecting a full house on Friday the 10th (including 100 priests and 8 bishops).

Between Monday the 6th and Thursday the 9th, seven Project Joseph team members assisted the painters in dismantling their scaffolding and then carrying planks, ramps and tarps out of the cathedral. They stayed on to dust the pillars and pews and mop the floor.  The job was mostly complete by Wednesday afternoon, leaving one day for fine tuning before the cathedral filled to honor Bishop Moynihan on Friday.

The Project Joseph team will continue to be part of the cathedral renovation, which started up again on Monday after the team carried back in the planks, tarps and ramps. They’re vital to Phase II of the construction, which includes pulling up the floor to install a new heating system. Most of the crew members who are part of this work are Nepalese refugees.

Project Joseph was proud to be part of preparing the cathedral for this special mass. The team looks forward to continuing to play a role in the renovation of the Diocese’s mother church.

2017 House of Providence Dinner Honorees

2017 House of Providence Dinner Honorees

Every year at the House of Providence Dinner, we award three individuals who have, through their generosity and dedication to others, had an incredible positive impact on the community. We look forward to celebrating the following honorees at this year’s House of Providence Dinner, which will take place on Wednesday, May 17th, at the Oncenter. Tickets and program ads are available here. Those interested in sponsorship opportunities can contact Development Coordinator Mary Kay Musyt at mkmusyt@ccoc.us or 315-362-7579.

Our thanks to the House of Providence Committee and all sponsors and supporters who help make this event possible every year. The event is in its 32nd year and is a vital source of funding for many of our programs.

Bishop’s Award
Dr. Linda LeMura
President, Le Moyne College

Dr. Linda M. LeMura became the 14th president of Le Moyne College in Syracuse, N.Y., on July 1, 2014. She is the first female layperson to ascend to the presidency of a Jesuit institution in the United States. She previously served as provost and vice president for academic affairs and as dean of arts and sciences at Le Moyne. Prior to Le Moyne, she served as a professor, graduate program director and associate dean at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania. Her research interests include pediatric obesity, pediatric applied physiology, lipid metabolism and energy metabolism, and she has taught applied physiology, anatomy and physiology, bioethics and the biology of aging. She has been a research consultant for the U.S. and the Italian Olympic Committees and is the author of numerous peer-reviewed manuscripts, grant proposals, a physiology laboratory manual and a textbook translated into multiple languages. A Fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine, she has served on the boards of the Syracuse Symphony, the Everson Museum, and the Syracuse International Film Festival. A summa cum laude graduate of Niagara University, she received an M.S. and Ph.D. in applied physiology from Syracuse University. She and her husband, Dr. Lawrence Tanner, a professor of environmental systems science at Le Moyne, have a daughter, Emily.

President’s Award
Mr. Larry Bousquet,
Member, Bousquet-Holstein, PLLC

Larry is a Member of Bousquet Holstein PLLC and serves on its Board of Managers.  Larry has been deeply involved in civic and volunteer activities in the Syracuse area for many years.  He is Director and Member of the Executive Committee of CenterState CEO and serves on the Board of Directors of Syracuse 20/20. Larry is also the past President of the Onondaga Citizens League, where he was the Chair of the 2005 study on Strategic Governmental Consolidation. A past President of the Everson Museum, Larry continues to serve as an honorary Trustee, chair of the Museum’s Development Committee and the Chair of the Turner to Cezanne Exhibition Committee. He served for many years on the Board of Directors of Hiscock Legal Aid and is a past President of the Society. In 2013, Larry was appointed President of the Gifford Foundation Board of Trustees. He also is a past Director of the Syracuse City School District Foundation where he served as Chair of the Grants Committee, and he is currently Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Crouse Health Foundation. Larry is an honors graduate of Kenyon College and the Syracuse University College of Law, where he served as an adjunct faculty member teaching in Partnership Taxation for many years.

Humanitarian Services Award
Ms. Leola Rodgers
President and CEO, Syracuse Community Health Center

Ms. Leola Rodgers was appointed President and CEO of the Syracuse Community Health Center, Inc. on January 12, 2015. Accredited by the Joint Commission, Syracuse Community Health Center, Inc. is a major primary health care provider in the Central New York Region. Annually Syracuse Community Health Center, Inc. (SCHC) serves over 34, 000 unique patients who generate in excess of 150,000 patient visits. Prior to joining the Syracuse Community Health Center, Inc, Ms. Rodgers was the Associate Administrator for the Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, Ambulatory Services, Oasis and HealthLink at Upstate University Hospital. Ms. Rodgers has worked for over twenty-five years in various healthcare settings in Detroit, Michigan, Boston, Massachusetts; and Jacksonville, Florida.  Ms. Rodgers has a long history of working with charities and not-for-profits in Syracuse that have included Enable, Make-A-Wish Foundation, On Point for College and Ronald McDonald House Charities. Currently, she serves as Vice President of the Health Foundation of Western and Central New York. Ms. Rodgers is also a board member of the United Way Central New York, Crouse Hospital, CNY Care Collaborative, Syracuse 20/20, and CenterState CEO. She also serves on the Social Determinants of Health and Community Based Organizations Committee, a sub-committee of the NYS Medicaid Value Based Payment Work Group.

Attend or Support the House of Providence Dinner

In Solidarity with Refugees: Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities of Onondaga County

In Solidarity with Refugees: Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities of Onondaga County

At Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, our focus is on making a positive difference for people in Central New York, but as a Catholic organization, we’re proud to be part of a broader effort to serve the most vulnerable people around the world. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is one organization carrying out that goal. Like us, their work includes a focus on assisting refugees.

CRS is the international humanitarian agency of the U.S. Catholic Church and works with refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Greece, and other countries around the globe. CRS provides food, shelter, medical care, education and counseling to some 1.5 million Iraqi and Syrian refugees alone. Their staff are on the frontlines of the global refugee crisis where they see refugees arriving in other countries than their own scared, tired, and usually with little to no money or possessions. They all flee the same violence we’re trying to protect ourselves from.

In Greece, where CRS works with the Catholic church to turn vacant buildings into apartments for refugees, a father of six who recently fled Aleppo said “after a long trip, this is the most comfortable place where I can relax and rest.”

Just like our own families, every family deserves to be able to find that level of comfort and peace of mind. At Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, we work to provide that sense of security after refugees have arrived in Syracuse. We connect refugees to services related to housing, employment, learning English, legal assistance, and much more, including programing for children and youth. In the last few weeks, that work has been complicated by the National Security Executive Orders issued January 27th.

The implications of the Orders are extensive, but perhaps the one that has caused the most immediate confusion and unrest is the ban on refugee resettlement for 120 days. While this has since been blocked by the courts, there is a chance it will be reinstated. As is, the Orders halted the progress of 220 individuals who had been scheduled for resettlement in Syracuse through Catholic Charities in January and February.

The local human impact is significant. This ban interrupted family reunifications. In one case, two brothers traveling together were separated in the last stages of departure. One brother arrived in Syracuse the week of January 22nd. The other, who was scheduled to arrive the week of January 29th, has been banned indefinitely. These two brothers had been through significant obstacles together, supporting each other through many struggles, only to be separated within reach of their goal. In another case, a mother who’d worked for months to reunite with her son saw her hopes dashed by the ban. She does not know when or if he’ll be able to join her. There is immense concern in the local refugee community about the safety of family and friends abroad.

At Catholic Charities, we remain dedicated to serving the refugee
community in Central New York and to working with our elected officials to continue this humanitarian work. To experience the support of our community both locally and nationally, in the form of CRS, is empowering. There are many ways you can be part of this effort – see ways to participate here or donate. Thank you to all who have already joined us. We look forward to continuing this work together.

Mike Melara_sig

 

 

Michael F. Melara
Executive Director, Catholic Charities of Onondaga County

maureen-mccullough_signature-si4e9dd

 

 

Maureen McCullough
Mid-Atlantic Director at Catholic Relief Services,

 

Grocery Cart Dinner – A Special Meal at the Men’s Shelter

Grocery Cart Dinner – A Special Meal at the Men’s Shelter

Above, two staff members wait by the back entrance to assist volunteers.

Many nights at our Men’s Shelter, hot meals arrive piled high in the backs of vans and cars driven by dedicated volunteers. The meals are provided by volunteers who generously donate their own time and resources to help our residents.

Last Sunday, dinner arrived not in the back of a car, but in a grocery cart.

The grocery cart was pushed by Miss Sandra and her three grandchildren. Miss Sandra, a local resident, called our shelter staff early in the day to ask how many men were staying because she wanted to cook them dinner.  She spent the day making enough for roughly 60 men. Late in the afternoon, she discovered that a family member needed the car she’d planned on using. Still determined to deliver, she found a shopping cart and loaded it up. She then rounded up her three grandchildren and together they pushed the cart half a mile through slushy city streets to the shelter.

The men's shelter during the day, awaiting arrivals
The men’s shelter during the day, awaiting arrivals

Last Sunday night was miserable. It was cold and snowing and the streets were a mess. This family still carried through with their efforts and they made a big impression on our residents, who thanked them profusely as Miss Sandra took charge of the shelter floor for the evening, shooing help away as she served out the meal.

We are always grateful for the generous support we receive from groups and individuals in the community. There are so many moments that are deserving of special recognition, but we know that’s not what motivates our volunteers to help. So, to all of our quiet supporters – thank you for giving, as Miss Sandra did,  so generously of your time and resources to help us serve the community. It is deeply appreciated.

 

Posted by Bridget Dunn, Communications Coordinator