Catholic Charities, In Pandemic, Has Stepped Up Services


Archdiocesan Catholic Charities has stepped up a number of services since the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Earlier this month, Catholic Charities co-sponsored a two-day phone bank to provide up-to-date information about developments related to immigration laws and policies. 

Administrators and staffers noted that the purpose of the Feb. 3 and 4 phone bank was “to pre-empt scams and help people understand the changes and what they need to look for in hiring and retaining an attorney.” 

The Catholic Charities Hotline (1.800.566.7636) will also help make referrals to free legal service providers who can answer questions in one-on-one consultations, most likely virtually. The phone bank was also sponsored by Univision New York and the NYS Office of New Americans.

Throughout the pandemic, CC coordinators have set up many pop-up food pantries for the needy and low-income families, especially households hit hard by the economic setbacks stemming from the Covid-19 crisis. There were also holiday food distributions, such as when Cardinal Dolan and Msgr. Kevin Sullivan joined in the distribution of turkey dinners for Thanksgiving at the Kennedy Community Center in Harlem. Msgr. Sullivan is executive director of archdiocesan Catholic Charities.

“They still stepped up,” Father Eric Cruz, Bronx regional director of Catholic Charities, told Catholic New York this week as he discussed the dedicated work of CC staffers and volunteers despite pandemic safety concerns.

“Those residential programs, they can’t just shut down. They chose to stay, and they made sacrifices and they made (coping) arrangements, along with their directors and supervisors. It wasn’t easy—a lot of family people who are still dedicated to the work and they wanted to be there because there were so many poor people in need, from day laborers and immigrants to the elderly to the sick.”

Father Cruz also noted, “I marvel at the work of the case managers, and the volunteers were an inspiration, especially at the beginning of this” pandemic. He said Catholic Charities is also thankful to businesses and community groups who have assisted with donations and various resources.

At food distribution events, it has been common to hear the cardinal, Msgr. Sullivan and others express heartfelt gratitude to donors and partners in the charitable efforts. They often cite Scripture, noting that we are all God’s children, created in His image; and that Jesus said: whatever you do for the least of these, you do for me.

Representatives from Goya Foods and other CC partners have expressed great contentment in taking part in the collaborations. 

Rafael Toro, director of public relations for Goya Foods, told CNY in December, “We can’t think of a better organization (Catholic Charities) to partner with.” Recipients of CC services have offered many thanks, sometimes in an emotional manner.

Catholic Charities coordinators have also pointed to the importance, amid the pandemic, of the increased services that have occurred since last March related to mental health, rental and mortgage assistance, employment and job-training referrals, and other social services.