Catholic Charities to honor volunteers
By Claudia Mathis
SUN staff writer
Three individuals who are known for their outstanding community service in Central New York will be honored at the 23rd annual House of Providence Dinner on May 21 at the OnCenter with a reception at 6 p.m. and a dinner following at 7 p.m. More than 600 people are expected to attend. Time Warner Cable, Pioneer Companies, National Grid, Widewaters, M&T Bank, Lamar Outdoor Events and the OnCenter Complex are sponsoring this event, which recognizes individuals who define the best traits of Central New York citizenry.
Dan Cummings of WSYR-News Channel 9 will emcee as awards are presented to this year’s honorees: C. Brian Walton, Carl Thomas and Aminy Audi.
C. Brian Walton, executive director of Catholic Charities of Onondaga County, will receive the President’s Medallion in honor of his contributions to Catholic Charities and the community. During his 37 years at Catholic Charities, Walton has dedicated his life to serving others and has done so with a combination of selflessness, leadership and vision.
Married to Ellen Golden, Walton has two children and six grandchildren. He lives in Syracuse.
A native of Albany, Walton earned a sociology degree from Siena College with the assistance of a scholarship from the New York State Division of Probation. He later received a master’s in social work and a master’s in public administration from Syracuse University. To meet the service requirement for his scholarship, Walton served for two years at the Onondaga County Probation Department.
Walton began his career at Catholic Charities as the supervisor of the family division in 1971. In 1977, he became deputy director for the organization, and in 1984, assumed the position of executive director.
Walton is a member of the Catholic Charities Board of Directors and the Peace and Justice Committee.
Walton plans to retire Dec. 31, 2008. Reflecting on his years of service at the organization, Walton said, “I’ve been both honored and privileged to serve this community through my work with Catholic Charities. The organization has provided me some remarkable opportunities to make a difference. I’ve been blessed with extraordinary colleagues along the way, and I am humbled by this honor.”
Carl Thomas, director of Le Moyne College’s Higher Education Opportunity Program, will be recognized with the Bishop’s Medallion. This award honors those individuals who selflessly serve their community, living their lives as a model of service to others through their vocation and voluntary pursuits. The Bishop’s Medallion stands as a testimony to their devotion and commitment to others.
Thomas is well-known in the Syracuse community for his commitment to education and diversity as well as for his dedication to community service.
For the past 36 years, Thomas has devoted his life to furthering education for disadvantaged students and students of color. He is the director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and the African-American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American Program (AHANA) at Le Moyne College. HEOP provides various services to academically and financially challenged students, enabling them to study at Le Moyne.
As a pioneer in the field of diversity, Thomas co-founded the Conference on Multicultural Affairs of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and later served as its president. The organization is dedicated to ensuring access to Jesuit higher education for students of color.
Thomas and his wife Pearl live in Syracuse and are the parents of Carl Jr. and Terry.
Community service has been a lifelong pursuit of Thomas and he has served the Syracuse Diocese in many roles. They include being a member of the Catholic Charities Board of Directors, the Syracuse Diocese Catholic School Board and the Black Catholic Ministry Board. In addition, Thomas has served on the St. Therese pastoral council and the Syracuse Jail Ministry Council.
Thomas said he feels extremely honored and humbled to receive the award. “I really appreciate that Catholic Charities honored me,” said Thomas. “I joined the Catholic Charities Board of Directors so that I could be more actively involved in the services that they provide. I’m trying to have as much impact on the community as I can.”
Aminy Audi, chief executive officer and president of Stickley, Audi & Company, will receive the Humanitarian Service Medallion, which honors individuals who have a consistent desire to improve the human condition through a life of service to others, both personally and professionally. A spirit of concern for others, coupled with a substantial and long-standing commitment of meeting human service needs, is recognized with this award.
Audi has served her community through professional endeavors as well as through her personal involvement in women’s issues, education, human rights and international interests, among others.
A graduate of New York University, Audi and her late husband, Alfred, were married in 1963. The Audis bought Stickley in 1974, and under their stewardship, the struggling company grew from 25 employees housed in an outdated factory to over 1,600 employees operating in state-of-the-art facilities in Manlius, Archedale, N.C., and Vietnam.
In addition to the many contributions the Audis have made through their company, Aminy has devoted her life to community service in numerous ways. Her interest in women’s issues led her to co-found the Women’s Fund of Central New York, which supports programs that enable women to achieve their full potential. Audi has been a member of the Women in Communications National Chapter and the National Organization of Arab-American Women, and has served as a non-governmental delegate to the United Nations World Conference on Women in Beijing, China.
In recognition of her efforts, Audi received the WithIt (Women in the Home Industries Today) Women of the Year in Manufacturing Award, The Post Standard Woman of Achievement in Business Award and the 25 Women in Leadership Award, which was given by the Syracuse Chamber of Commerce and WTVH-TV.
Audi serves on the State University of New York (SUNY) Board of Trustees. As co-chair of SUNY’s International Studies division, she has represented the institution in Turkey, Poland, Mexico and Russia. Audi has also served on the Board of the United Nations Association of Central New York and as a delegate to the United Nations Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria.
Audi said her commitment to give to her community has been a life-long desire. “It’s part of who I am,” said Audi. “I can’t imagine life without volunteering in the community.”
Audi said she feels very humbled and touched to receive the Humanitarian Service Medallion. “I feel honored to be in the presence of the two other distinguished honorees,” she said.