Annual dinner fills stomachs and hearts


pestello_meatballsBy Katherine Long
Sun associate editor

Some 60 volunteers rolled up their sleeves and rolled out a mountain of meatballs in the cafeteria of Cathedral Academy at Pompei (CAP) in Syracuse last Saturday morning, preparing for Our Lady of Pompei-St. Peter Parish’s 62nd annual Election Day spaghetti dinner fundraiser.

Organizer Lucy Paris estimated that about 6,000 meatballs would be made from the 850 pounds of meat donated by the Gianelli Sausage Company. The meatballs, combined with pasta provided by Michael Angelo’s restaurant, will make up the 2,500 meals expected to be dished out Nov. 8. Paris hopes to see the event raise upwards of $12,000 for the parish, a portion of which will be earmarked for CAP.

Many of the parishioners, teachers, parents and alumni on hand have volunteered their time at the event for years. Paris said she’d been involved for the last 20 years, and that the tradition and camaraderie keeps her and the others coming back.

“Everybody loves being here,” she said.

Dr. Fred Pestello, president of Le Moyne College, was back to lend a hand this year as well.

“It’s good people and a great cause,” he said, citing the important work the school and the parish do to serve the surrounding area.

Le Moyne has a special relationship with CAP, where the Le Moyne Teacher Corps program started this year. Through the program, teachers working on their master’s degrees in education at Le Moyne work for a year in a CAP classroom in lieu of paying tuition.

“The students gain a lot. They have the opportunity to serve immigrant populations and those less fortunate,” said Pestello. “It’s the right thing to do.”

Corps member and pre-K teacher Michelle Cartino was bundling cutlery for the dinner. She said the Corps program is a “win-win” situation that gives her invaluable experience in a classroom she loves while easing the burden of tuition costs. “It’s a blessing,” she said.

Another first-time volunteer was Kathy Ruscitto, president of St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center. Like Le Moyne, St. Joseph’s has been a great friend to CAP. In addition to offering financial support, Ruscitto said she encourages employees to volunteer time at the school. She sees these efforts as important for preserving the neighborhood.

“The parish and the school are incredible assets to the community,” Ruscitto said.

Dr. Patricia Schmidt, director of development at CAP, couldn’t agree more.

“This event brings the parish and the school together,” she said. “And together, we’re serving the community.”

Our Lady of Pompei-St. Peter’s 62nd annual Election Day spaghetti dinner will be held in the cafeteria of Cathedral Academy at Pompei, 923 North McBride St., Syracuse, on Nov. 8 from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tickets will be sold at the door and cost $8 for adults, $7 for seniors and $6 for kids. Children under 5 are free. Takeout is available. For more information, contact Lucy at (315) 345-0562.

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