‘Not To Be Served …’

May 6-12, 2004
‘Not To Be Served …’
By Kristen Fox / SUN  Staff Writer
Catholic Charities Recognizes Groups and Individuals for Community Service

On Wednesday, May 19, Catholic Charities of Oneida/Madison Counties will recognize one outstanding individual and three remarkable organizations for their dedication and service to the Oneida/Madison community. The four awards will be distributed during Catholic Charities Annual Dinner, to be held at the Radisson Hotel in Utica beginning at 6 p.m.

The Newman Community of Utica College and SUNY-IT is the recipient of the Distinguished Benefactor Award. The Newman Community is a worshipping and service community primarily for Catholic students. It has supported two children’s programs at Catholic Charities of Oneida/Madison Counties –– Camp Nazareth and St. Martin de Porres Youth Center –– for the past several years, said Kathleen Eichenlaub.

“Because of your thoughtfulness and generosity, many children of families who were unable to afford camp tuition were provided the opportunity to enjoy and experience a week at Camp Nazareth. As well, your support of St. Martin’s has helped us to provide free after school and summer care to at-risk children,” Eichenlaub said in a letter to Father Paul Drobin and the Newman Community Members.

Father Drobin, chaplain of the Newman Community of Utica College and SUNY-IT, said that reaching out to the greater community is part of the center’s mission. “We are dedicated to social justice and we have always tried to be supportive of Catholic Charities,” said Father Drobin. “What we are doing is not different from what many parishes are doing.” Sister Mary Theresa Kobosinski, DC, will receive the Msgr. Daniel E. Lawler Award. The award is presented to a person or persons who best display the ideals of the late Msgr. Lawler and his dedicated service to the community. Msgr. Lawler served as the director of Catholic Charities of Oneida/Madison Counties from 1950-1958.

Sister Mary Theresa has been director of the Parish Center at St. John’s Church in Utica since 1985. Some of the programs offered at the center include a food pantry and clothing store, an after-school program for children and a Mother’s Support Group. She was chosen for the award based on the special care and compassion with which she operates the center and the special relationship she has working with children. The Mother Teresa Peace & Justice Award will be given to the Ministry for Persons with Disabilities of Oneida/Madison Counties. Marie Testa, facilitator of the ministry, said the organization is honored to receive the award. “The Ministry for Persons with Disabilities feels very honored to receive the Mother Teresa Peace and Justice Award,” said Testa, a parishioner of St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Church in Utica. “We will continue to face the challenge and work to overcome both physical and attitudinal barriers in order to open the doors of the Catholic community to include all people of faith, both those with and without disabilities.”

The National Catholic Office for Persons with Disabilities reported that 54 percent of the total disability population, which is approximately 5.4 million Catholics, has a physical disability. The Ministry for Persons with Disabilities works to achieve more accessible church facilities, presents educational workshops, holds informational forums for parishioners and assists in Masses and religious education classes for persons/children with disabilities. Tentative plans for the ministry’s future include special events for youth with disabilities, sensitizing parishioners to the needs and gifts of persons with disabilities, providing useful disability information through church bulletins and supporting the work of parishes, said Testa.

The Dr. Rao Mental Health Award is named in honor of the late Dr. Ramakrishna Rao, who was the clinical director of the Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center. The recipient of the award is Compeer of the Mohawk Valley, Inc. Compeer is a non-profit agency that matches trained volunteers in supportive friendships with individuals receiving mental heath treatment. Compeer’s programs include mentoring for children with emotional problems, supportive friendships for adults receiving mental health treatment and compeer calling: telephone reassurance for individuals receiving mental health treatment.

David Podos serves as executive director of Compeer of the Mohawk Valley, Inc. “Statistics show that millions of people in the U.S. suffer from mental health disorders, and the number is increasing,” he said. “There is still a stigma of shame and guilt associated with it.” According to Podos, Compeer provides important socialization, friendship and support to people coping with mental illnesses. The organization currently has 85 matches. “We are very honored and humbled to receive this prestigious award,” said Podos. “I think it shows that we are making an impact in the community. It makes us want to work even harder.”

For more information on Catholic Charities of Oneida/Madison Counties, call (315) 724-2158.

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