After 7 long months, Cabrini of Westchester is able to reunite family members with their loved ones in person! In order to keep the residents safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, very strict guidelines from the New York State Department of Health have been in place since March. Visiting began on Monday, October 26th and it was a joy to witness the smiles and happy tears that were shared.
Each visit is by appointment only and takes place in Cabrini of Westchester’s lobby. All visitors must provide a negative COVID test and wear a mask at all times. Even though a six foot social distance is in place between family and residents, the feeling of love is obvious and almost tangible during each visit.
“The hardest part is not being able to give my mom a hug,” said Fran Pellegrini, daughter of resident, Louise Carbone. “But, I’m so happy to see her in person. She looks wonderful!”
After many months of uncertainty, it is so heart-warming to see happy memories being made once again!
It would certainly be an understatement to say that this year has been rough. So many of our [Cabrini Immigrant Services] Moms had to learn how to do on-line learning so their children could attend school. Now, the children are on hybrid schedules so our Moms are making sure the children are at the bus stop on time, get on their computers for on-line learning, etc. etc.
One Mom said, “It is nice to have a place to just breathe.” Kimberly Lara, a social work intern from Mercy College, leads the group. They talk about what is happening with their children, the concerns about COVID, school, etc.
This week, when they met, they painted a picture. Kimberly asked them to think about something that was important to them or something that gives them joy. Many spoke about the importance of family, having a home and also the beautiful views of the Fall foliage that we have in Dobbs Ferry, New York.
There was a lot of laughter while they were painting. In addition, they enjoyed some arroz con leche and fried plantains, made by one of our Moms. We are so happy to be able to offer them a place to come where they can relax, even if it is for a short time.
~ Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report
In addition to eliminating jobs, halting and slowing travel, and disrupting food pipelines, the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the problem of human trafficking said experts gathered at an October 14 symposium entitled: “Combating Human Trafficking: Action in a Time of Crisis” sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See and held at the International Union of Superiors General in Rome.
Declaring human trafficking “a stain on all of humanity,” said Calista Gingrich, the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See. She further said that human trafficking “is impervious to our current health crisis. It invades borders, destroys communities, and robs millions of their human dignity.”
In many communities, Gingrich said, “exploitation, abuse and modern slavery are on the rise. Countless victims, especially women and children, face growing threats. As the economic fallout of this pandemic continues, additional men, women and children are likely to become victims of forced labor and sex trafficking.”
She said that amidst the troubling signs, alliances focused on ending the exploitation of human can make a difference. She hailed the work of Catholic sisters, church-based humanitarian [groups] and law enforcement and said the shared concern about human trafficking is a “cornerstone” of the relationship between the U.S. embassy and the Holy See.”
In her remarks, Loreto Sister Patricia Murray, IUSG executive secretary noted that the United Nations has said the pandemic will likely cause an estimated 34.3 million people “to fall below the extreme poverty line” this year alone with over half that increase to happen in African countries. That has made people desperate for ways to support themselves and their families and has opened the opportunity for exploitation by traffickers.
Murray quoted Pope Francis’ declaration earlier this year that the financial gain from trafficking amounts to “blood money” and described trafficking as an “open wound on the body of contemporary society.”
To read the entire article click here
To access a PDF with Missionary Sisters’ Corporate Stance on Human Trafficking click here
~by David Agren, Catholic News Service
Matamoros, Mexico – When Sr. Norma Pimentel used to query the needs of asylum seekers in a tent camp along the Rio Grande in this Mexican border city, they asked for supplies such as utensils and blankets. Now when she speaks with them they voice fears for their safety and ask about an exit.
“We’re moving to a more desperate situation: ‘Get me out of here, I am afraid for my child,’” she said they tell her.
Residents of Dignity Village – populated by asylum-seekers waiting in Mexico as their cases proceed in US courts, part of the Migrant Protection Protocols plan – have endured everything from cold snaps to hurricanes, from rats and snakes to vermin infestation, and from criminal gangs to kidnapping them to the COVID-19 pandemic. But fear has gripped the camp in recent weeks as at least seven individuals have been found murdered in an area where camp residents used to wash and bathe.
“It’s hard to know (what’s happening) because the authorities are not saying and they’re not identifying the person(s)” said Sr. Pimentel, a member of the Missionaries of Jesus and Director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley. “It’s dangerous and everyone wants out.”
As time drags on, desperation sets in, especially as the temporary tents residents use become battered by the elements – Hurricane Hanna stormed through in August nearly flooding them out – and the COVID-19 pandemic postpones their US court appearance for the foreseeable future.
There’s nothing in sight that can really move them forward…They have endured months of hardship and COVID-19 doesn’t make it any easier,” said Pimentel.
The camp’s population has dwindled to less than 1,000 residents, roughly a third of its peak occupancy. Some of the camp’s residents are also attempting to cross the Rio Grande into the United States – a risky proposition. The river has deceptively strong currents and organized crime demands a payment to attempt the crossing.
Pimentel often deals with Mexican immigration officials, taking requests from residents to them for consideration. She also listens to petitions, such as the pleas of a group of pregnant women, who were wondering if US officials would expedite their hearings. For all the desperation, she said, many have not given up hope on reaching the United States for one simple reason: “They can’t return to their countries.”
~ by Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
When he addresses, via video message, Pope Francis is expected to speak about using the coronavirus crisis as an opportunity to rethink economic, political and environmental policies in a way that will benefit humanity and the earth.
Since COVID-19 was officially recognized as a pandemic in early March, the Pope has been urging individuals, organizations and governments to recognize the inequalities the pandemic has highlighted in economics and access to health care and education, as well as the ways current patterns of production and consumption have damaged the environment.
In an interview published on August 27, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican Secretary of State, was asked what principles of Catholic Social Teaching could help the global economy recover from the pandemic and its lockdowns.
“COVID-19 not only provoked a health crisis but impacted multiple aspects of human life: the family, politics, labor, businesses, commerce, tourism, etc.,” Parolin said. “The broad and interconnected character of the pandemic constantly reminds us of Pope Francis’ observation that ‘everything is connected.’”
“Today the pandemic is giving a tremendous shock to the entire economic and social system and its supposed certainties at all levels. The problems of unemployment are and will be dramatic; the problem of public health require the revolution of entire health and education systems; and the role of states and relations between nations are changing,” Parolin said.
The church feels called to accompany the complicated journey that lies before us all as a human family. She must do so with humility and wisdom, but also with creativity,” Paolin continued.
Today’s courageous creativity is more urgent than ever so that the dramatic crisis of the pandemic does not end in terrible tragedy, but opens spaces for the human and ecological conversion that humanity needs,” Parolin said. To read the entire article click here
UPDATE: It was announced that Pope Francis will travel to Assisi on October 3 to sign an encyclical on the social, political and economic obligations that flow from a belief that all people are children of God and therefore, brothers and sisters to one another. The encyclical is expected to [focus on] preferential option for the poor, universal destination of goods and the obligation of solidarity.
When the United States began its most stringent COVID-19 lockdown in mid-March, America’s food supply workers – from grocery store clerks to farmworkers quickly became some of the country’s most essential laborers.
Cabrini University alumna Meghan Hurley ’07, who has served at CATA – The Farmworkers Support Committee in southern New Jersey since 2012, farmworkers were essential personnel long before COVID-19 gripped the globe. Of her work helping mobilize farmworkers in the CATA network to advocate for improved labor conditions before legislators in New Jersey and Washington, D.C., she said, “What we are seeing is not new, but just refocused.”
Hurley said that labor legislation has often excluded farmworkers, who are largely people of color and immigrants – including permanent residents and workers on temporary work visas or without documentation. This Cabrini alumna is advocating for at least six pieces of legislation in New Jersey that would provide some economic relief for undocumented immigrants and expand labor protections for farmworkers and many other essential workers, including increased sick days and the right to refuse work in unsafe conditions without fear of retaliation or termination.
“Right now, we are focused on the immediate needs of Latino working communities and pushing for better protections,” Hurley said.
“We call these workers essential but treat them as though they are expendable,” she said.
Hurley credits much of her passion for immigrant advocacy work to the experiences she had as a Cabrini undergraduate studying English and Communication. She said Jerry Zurek, PhD, Professor, English and Communications, had a particularly profound impact, helping Hurley foster a passion for social justice and advocacy. Need another photo
“Meghan’s work now for immigrant farmworkers should touch our conscience,” Zurek said. “These farmworkers don’t earn minimum wage and, if undocumented, haven’t received a penny in COVID-19 protection and relief. What Meghan does now is what Mother Cabrini would do if she were here today.”
Magical Moments are taking place at Cabrini of Westchester! Every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for the month of July, family members are able to make an appointment to see their loved ones through the window up close and personal, while speaking via iPads from either side of the door.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the regulations put into place by the New York State Department of Health, visitors have not been allowed to enter St. Cabrini Nursing Home since March. Although regular updates have been given to all families since the pandemic began, and many have had the opportunity to FaceTime with the residents, these Magical Moments have been so special because the residents are able to see and communicate with their loved ones in person – something they haven’t been able to do for nearly four months!
The residents and families have been grateful to all the staff who make these reunions possible. We look forward to the day when these families move on from virtual hugs to actual hugs! That day can’t come soon enough!
~ by Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service
A report by the Washington-based Refugees International organization charges U.S. immigration policy with [exacerbating] the spread of the coronavirus in Guatemala, as federal agencies in the U.S. and Mexico have repatriated infected Guatemalans through deportations.
In “Harmful Returns: The Compounded Vulnerabilities of Returned Guatemalans in the Time of COVID-19,” a report released on June 23, Refugees International urges that Guatemalans seeking refuge be allowed to apply for asylum in the U.S., instead of being turned over to Mexican authorities or repatriated, and that they be allowed to go with U.S. sponsors while they wait for their day in immigration court.
But U.S. policies such as the “Remain in Mexico” program, also called the Migrant Protection Protocols or MPP, which asks those seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico until a U.S. immigration court can adjudicate their case, have led to the eventual return home of many Guatemalans and other Central Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Earlier this year, Guatemalan officials halted flights carrying deportees into the country, saying that at least 20% of its COVID-19 cases had resulted from deportees who contracted the virus in U.S. detention centers. Citing those figures, Refugees International said once they were returned to Guatemala, deportees tested positive for COVID-19, “despite having clean bill of health documents from the United States.”
And, once they return to Guatemala, they were met with stigma, lack of jobs and still facing dangerous conditions in addition to having contracted the virus, the group says.
“These measures force home many Guatemalans with valid refugee claims who are at risk of persecution upon return,” the group said. “Others have legitimate fears for their security and safety when they get home because returnees are at greater risk of becoming targets of violence and extortion.
“Once back, Guatemalans often struggle to reintegrate. They face unique challenges in earning a livelihood; and women, indigenous groups and children face particular barriers to accessing many basic public services. Also, healthcare is lacking, particularly for psychological or specialized services.”
The main concern is that people seeking refuge in the U.S., including children, are exposed to unsafe conditions during detention and then turned away or put in conditions that risk their health and their lives while in custody.
The organization has recommended testing prior to deportation as well as testing once the returnees arrive, saying a lack of such measures puts those deported and the general population at risk. Deported Guatemalans return only to face hunger, a stagnant economy, and restrictions on their movement.
On Tuesday, June 30th, a caravan of at least 30 cars paraded through the grounds of Cabrini of Westchester in Dobbs Ferry, NY, while the song “Ain’t No Stopping Us Now” was blasted for all to hear! The cars were decorated with signs of appreciation in honor of the members of the 1199 Service Employees International Union who are employed at St. Cabrini Nursing Home. As the cars made their way to the front of the building, staff members emerged out of the doors while dancing, singing and wearing huge smiles.
Organized by the administration of the 1199 Union, the parade was to thank the dedicated employees who tirelessly care for the residents of the home, most especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the parade, organizers arranged for New York State Senate Majority Leader and friend of Cabrini of Westchester, Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, to attend and address the group with words of thanks. “During the COVID-19 pandemic, you showed up to work every day and proved that you are beyond essential. I came here on behalf of myself, the Senate and every elected official throughout Westchester County and the State to say thank you for being our backbone, our constant and our heart.”
As festive as the atmosphere was, it was apparent that there was a special individual that was missing from the celebration. A moment of silence was held in memory of Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), Barbara Holmes, who succumbed to the COVID-19 virus in May. Barbara was employed at Cabrini for almost 41 years and was a passionate advocate for both residents and co-workers. It seemed appropriate that Patricia Krasnausky, President and CEO of Cabrini of Westchester announced that the monthly Values in Action Award will be renamed in Barbara’s honor, since she was the epitome of Cabrini’s core values of pride, dignity, compassion and respect.