In the Bronx, a partnership between Catholic Charities’ Mobile Pantry, St. Francis of Assisi pantry and Muslim Women’s Institute for Research and Development led to a census education program for pantry volunteers and staff. Since federal funding is dependent upon an accurate census count, and the Bronx receives far less federal and state funding for social services, the project attempted to address a structural inequality through education of social service providers about the importance of an accurate count. The Census Bureau provided a training to pantry volunteers and staff, who in turn encouraged their clients to complete census forms (above, right photo). In follow up meetings, staff and volunteers from the pantries decided to write letters to their federal and city council representative about funding for child nutrition and emergency hunger relief; they also met with their City Council representative, Councilwoman Foster, in order to express their concerns (middle photo above). During the fall of 2011 Catholic volunteers participated in a “Day of Dignity” community service day at MWIRD. The next month Catholic volunteers returned to MWIRD to help distribute food at Thanksgiving time. In 2012 Catholic Charities delivered a portion of food collected from the Archdiocese of New York’s “Feeding our Neighbors” campaign to MWIRD (above, left).
Using Google, ICNY also developed maps to show the overlap of Catholic and Muslim organizations and communities (see below for Bronx).
In Harlem, Catholics and Muslims have worked together on hunger, immigration, and re-entry. Members of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood held a food drive for All Saints Roman Catholic Church. The food was delivered and celebrated with an interfaith prayer service. Volunteers from Masjid Touba and the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood worked for a few hours with the volunteers at All Saints’ client-choice pantry, helping unpack food and take clients through to select their food items. Staff from Catholic Charities Immigration department gave a presentation to Masjid Touba, a Senegalese mosque. More recently, Catholics and Muslims have been meeting in Harlem to discuss how to make their community a welcome home for those returning from prison. Additionally, interfaith Martin Luther King Day celebrations have been held for two years in a row. Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish women have been meeting monthly for two years to dialogue and learn from each other.
In Staten Island teens from the Catholic Youth Organization (CYO) and the Albanian Cultural Center and MIS met with each other several times to learn about each others’ faiths. They visited a church and a mosque where they were given tours by an imam and priest and learned about social justice in each others’ faith traditions. They also held a joint food drive. They worked together to distribute the food they collected, and serve a meal at a local Catholic church’s soup kitchen. A new partnership between AICC and Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish was initiated in Fall, 2012.
In addition to borough-specific projects, ICNY has held two large scale conferences highlighting these partnerships and interfaith partnerships centered on social services.