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Charities’ Donation Provides 20,000 Meals for Puerto Rican Families
By CHRISTIE CHICOINE

In an effort to assist economically beleaguered Puerto Rico, archdiocesan Catholic Charities has donated $5,000 in a food drive that will feed more than 100 families 20,000 meals through a partnership with Cáritas de Puerto Rico.

Msgr. Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities, delivered the gift in person last week to officials of the Cáritas de Puerto Rico headquarters in San Juan.

The contribution was made at a reception Catholic Charities co-sponsored Nov. 7 at the Dreamcatcher Guest House in San Juan. The event was held in conjunction with the SOMOS el Futuro Legislative Conference Nov. 5-8 at the Caribe Hilton in San Juan.

“We are extremely grateful to Catholic Charities of New York for the partnership that is being formed to assist the people of Puerto Rico during this critical time,” said Father Enrique Camacho, executive director of Cáritas de Puerto Rico. “This effort will not only feed the 100 families receiving the assistance, this commitment will have long-term results for Cáritas and the people of Puerto Rico.

“The donation,” continued Father Camacho, “will allow Cáritas de Puerto Rico to continue to serve the poor and underserved of the island.”

In presenting the gift, Msgr. Kevin Sullivan explained that archdiocesan Catholic Charities partners with many Catholic and non-Catholic organizations to provide critical services. “The current economic hardship in Puerto Rico moved us this year to extend our ‘Feeding Our Neighbors’ program to the Cáritas in Puerto Rico,” he said.

“Hopefully,” he continued, “this gift of 20,000 meals provided by our $5,000 grant will both alleviate hunger and draw attention to additional assistance needed in multiple areas to deal with Puerto Rico’s economic crisis.”

The conference included a service component the afternoon of Nov. 7 in the offices of Cáritas de Puerto Rico. There, conference participants volunteered their time and donated money to ensure that 100 families receive food.

GOYA de Puerto Rico also has donated food. The Puerto Rican Bar Association, founded by a group of Puerto Rican lawyers in New York, is also helping Cáritas de Puerto Rico to provide non-perishable food products to feed families in need. More than 45 attorneys and judges are either donating food or making a donation.

The New York Foundling provided information on the programs they administer in the Early Head Start, Head Start and Adolescent Social Services Program at its Cardinal John O’Connor location in San Juan. Cáritas de Puerto Rico explained the services it provides throughout Puerto Rico.

“Whenever there are macroeconomic crises, it is the poorest who are most hurt by those crises,” Msgr. Sullivan told CNY on Nov. 4.

“Our contribution, albeit modest, will help,” he added. “Hopefully, by our show of solidarity, it will be part of a sign that there needs to be even greater solidarity in alleviating the crisis and the hurt that the crisis brings about.”

Catholic Charities of the archdiocese reaching out and being part of the SOMOS Conference in Puerto Rico, touching base with Catholic Charities programs on the island, “is another sign of the solidarity of the Church in the Americas,” Msgr. Sullivan said.

“Our participation in this is because we want to solidify the partnership that we have with our public officials, with private philanthropy, with Catholic Charities agencies,” he said. “So the ability to be where there are pressing needs, and with those people who can impact them back here in New York, is a critical part of our mission.”

Catholic Charities, Cáritas de Puerto Rico, the New York Foundling Hospital and Nos Quedamos also participated in an off-site event titled “Addressing Social Needs of Puerto Ricans,” at the housing project Ernesto Ramos Antonini Residential Publico in Rio Piedras. The Nov. 6 workshop was sponsored by New York State Assemblywomen Maritza Davila and Latoya Joyner.

“The Church of New York is very much a Church that, to an important extent, is made up of people from different countries and, particularly, those from the Caribbean and Latin America,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “One of the earlier groups to become part of the Church in New York were Puerto Ricans, settling in East Harlem.

“Our connection with Latin American countries and the islands of the Caribbean,” he continued, “is part and parcel of New York being a portal for so many newcomers.”

One of the characteristics of the Catholic Church, Msgr. Sullivan said, is in its name, “that it’s universal.”

“There is that solidarity throughout the entire world. When, in a situation like this, there is suffering in Puerto Rico, those of us in New York, to the extent that we’re able, show that solidarity in this way.

“Part of our values, our beliefs, as Catholic Charities being part of the Catholic Church, is that our vision has to go beyond just merely our local communities even though that’s where we do most of our work.”

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