Submitted by Catholic Charities of Oneida/Madison County

Catholic Charities Oneida/Madison County and Joe Tahan’s Furniture & Mattresses will host the Starfish Awards Luncheon May 15, honoring members of the community who are making a difference in the lives of others.

Father Arthur Krawczenko is the pastor of Sacred Heart & St. Mary, Our Lady of Czestochowa Parish in New York Mills and St. Patrick’s-St. Anthony’s Parish in Chadwicks. Father Krawczenko grew up in Poland and moved to the United States in 2003, shortly after his ordination to the priesthood. Father has served at St. John’s in Binghamton, St. Stephen the King in Oswego, Our Lady of the Rosary in Hannibal, and St. John the Baptist in Rome during his time in upstate New York. Father Krawczenko is the driving force behind the massive toy collection that his parish holds during the Christmas season. Catholic Charities is proud to partner with Father Krawczenko and his generous parishioners to serve hundreds of children in our community each Christmas through the Operation Sunshine program.

Michele Mandia is a resident of New Hartford, formerly of Utica. She is married to Robert Mandia and a mother to sons Anthony, Francesco, and Nicholas. A registered nurse by profession, Mandia has been employed by Mohawk Valley Health System in the nursery for over 20 years. As a past Utica City School Board Member, she participated on many committees to better enrich the opportunities and experiences for all students. Mandia is a past honoree of the Workforce Development Institute for women working in the labor movement and she has also volunteered for numerous organizations over the years. She is an especially valued volunteer partner of Catholic Charities. Mandia has rallied friends and family for the past 17 years and donated thousands of toys to benefit Catholic Charities’ Operation Sunshine Christmas program. Mandia firmly believes that paying it forward is a way of life for her and is looking forward to participating this year in her first Ride for Missing and Exploited Children.

The Gorman Foundation was established with a generous bequest in 2003 and abides by the mission to improve the quality of life for present and future generations, serving as the living legacy of Owen T. Gorman, Catherine “Kay” Cummings Gorman, and Alice M. Gorman. The Foundation awards grants to organizations primarily in Madison County but has also benefitted various communities around the world. Catholic Charities is one of seven Madison County nonprofit organizations to reside in the Gorman Foundation building and has been a proud recipient of several generous grants. Most recently, Catholic Charities has partnered with the Gorman Foundation and SUNY Morrisville to offer free grief counseling services to adolescents and young adults through a program called Bianka’s Journey.

Keynote speaker Lia Savage was born in Bogota, Colombia, and moved to Rome, N.Y., in the 1990’s with her adoptive parents. Savage has traveled extensively, spending five years in Leiden, Netherlands, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Webster University. She also studied at the Webster University in Hua Hin, Thailand, and spent over ten years volunteering in orphanages and schools around the globe. Savage began working for Safe Schools in 2011 as a youth counselor and was quickly promoted to manager of two after-school programs for at-risk youth in the Utica School District. In addition to this position, she is the Arrest Diversion Specialist for Oneida County, IRT Specialist in Holland Patent School District, and a mentor at Proctor High School. She has volunteered as coach of the Safe School’s CYO basketball team for four years.

The Starfish Awards Luncheon will be held on Wednesday, May 15, 2019, at Twin Ponds Golf & Country Club, 169 Main St., New York Mills, from 12-1:30 p.m. Proceeds from this event will benefit Catholic Charities’ programs, serving those in Oneida & Madison Counties who are most in need. Tickets are $45 each and must be purchased in advance. To purchase a ticket or make a donation, visit For more information, contact Victoria Paolozzi, Director of Development, at or (315) 724-2158 ext. 7002.

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