Pass it On

Not a bad idea: Religious leaders will help disperse financial information through its congregations to people who may need to apply for benefits or look for a new job.

Religious leaders from across New York announced yesterday that they will work with the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs Office of Financial Empowerment to make New Yorkers aware of all the information that’s out there.

They’re calling it “Pass It On.”

It was a pretty diverse press conference, as you can see.

Cardinal Egan said: “These are difficult and uncertain times, and many New Yorkers are hurting. As it has done for more than two centuries, the Archdiocese of New York continues to extend a caring hand to those in need, particularly through our well-respected schools, healthcare institutions, and Catholic Charities. This is essential because every human being is made in the image and likeness of God; and accordingly, every human being in need has a call on our compassion and care. The Archdiocese looks forward to collaborating with the City of New York and private agencies as well in the hope that we can make available to our fellow citizens the assistance they need and deserve.”

NYC plans to train “hundreds” of faith leaders on how to deal with people in financial distress and where to send them for more in-depth counseling. The city also plans to host financial literacy workshops at participating congregations to provide basic information about budgeting, banking and debt management.

These are very interesting ideas that show, I’m afraid, how bad things are getting.

Rabbi Yechezkel Pikus, director of the Council of Jewish Organizations of Flatbush, put it like this: “During times of crisis, people often rely on their religious leaders for advice – spiritual and financial. Now with the City’s assistance, we will be better able to help people make the right economic choices and point them to expert services. Our work together here today to overcome our current economic challenges is a fitting reminder during a time of year in which people of Jewish faith remember that no odds are ever insurmountable.”

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Gary Stern

Gary Stern covered education in the Lower Hudson Valley for several years during the early 1990s. Now's he back on the beat. He believes that schools are one of the main reasons that people live around here and that educational issues -- from curriculum to financing -- are among the most challenging things that journalists can write about. He continues to be amazed by the complexity of educational jargon. Gary got his B.A. at SUNY Buffalo and his M.A. from the University of Missouri Journalism School (where his master's thesis was about the best ways to cover education). He lives in White Plains with his wife and two sons, who attend public schools.