A Guiding Hand Through Hardship

Kyla W., journalist

Goshen, Orange County, NY — As many towns in upstate New York prepare for the frigid temperatures expected to arrive in late January, those living in destitution worry about how they’ll be able to warm their houses. Startling statistics reveal that in regions such as Sullivan, Orange, and Ulster County, the rate of poverty among the civil population is over 13% – just below the national poverty line. However, for these citizens, all hope is not yet lost. An organization known as Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster has been tirelessly committed to aiding such citizens overcome hardships such as homelessness, unemployment, and addiction. For many individuals, Catholic Charities has been a beam of light in their world of misfortune.

Although the organization was initially a subdivision of a much larger institution – Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York – the branch has recently become independent under CEO Dean Scher. Sher, who has tended to human service causes for over 45 years, has a Ph.D. in psychology and has even served as a director of psychiatric emergencies at Arden Hill Hospital in Goshen, NY. Throughout his career, Sher has been able to publish his research and findings in the Journal of Child Sex Abuse and the Journal of Scientific Research in hopes of expanding on the issues of child abuse and PTSD. With his extensive knowledge and experience in the field, Sher hopes to create a community where all people have access to a support system in which they can receive food, shelter, and psychiatric attention. In addition, Dean Sher, as of June 2019, has been presented with an HONOR Leadership Award for his various contributions to the community through Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster.

Upon visiting the organization’s official website, the first thing one will see is their mission statement, which states, “We strive to be an integral part of the human service and care delivery system touching the lives of anyone in need of care, hope, and help.” The website also claims to aid any individual who is hungry, homeless, physically or mentally handicapped, as well as those facing deportation. Although the organization is candidly religious, they offer service to anyone regardless of race, religion, nationality, and personal identity as their goal is to assist anyone in need.

For instance, hundreds of immigrants, estimated to be at least three million in New York alone, currently face the threat of deportation or have already been subjected to vile treatment by immigration establishments. In an attempt to combat these given circumstances, Catholic Charities offer the troubled families shelter as well as necessary commodities such as packaged food, water, clothing, and hygiene products. 

In addition to immigration services, Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster have been known to offer a variety of programs to combat other issues which plague the community. For instance, their Housing Resource Center provides families and individuals shelter in case of evictions, natural disasters, or family emergencies. Also, the organization offers its visitors with food and hygiene products for anyone who cares to take them. Their addiction programs, in particular, receive much recognition as they provide services such as medical monitoring for withdrawal, community residence, day-rehab, as well as outpatient resources. Catholic Charities even goes a step beyond by connecting family members of the drug patient to psychiatric institutions where they will be provided with a secure location for which to address their trauma.

While the contributions made by Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster are significant, they can only be sustained through public donations as well as collaborations with other organizations. For instance, New Hope Community regularly donates vegetables grown on their farm to catholic Charities which are then distributed at food drives and soup kitchens. In fact, Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster received over 300 pounds of fresh produce in the summer of 2019. Public donations such as money, food, water, and old clothing are also much appreciated by staff as it allows the organization to continue aiding the community.

Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster are one of many organizations located in upstate New York, which are dedicated to community causes. However, the ability to help communities lies within the people – what steps will take to improve your community?

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