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Catholic Charities of Steuben Gives Thanks to Community at Annual Awards Dinner

Catholic Charities of Steuben (CCS) is pleased to announce the recipients of our 2018 Annual Awards. Each year CCS recognizes individuals or organizations in Steuben County for outstanding commitment to our agency, its mission, and the service priorities that combine to advance our mission, including Kinship Family and Youth, Substance Free Living, and Turning Point. The theme for this year’s Awards was Imagine.

Awardees were recognized at a dinner held Wednesday, October 17, 2018 at the Bath Country Club, Slice of 209 Restaurant located in Bath, NY. More than 100 people were in attendance. Of note were Senator Tom O’Mara (R, C, IP), and Sharon Murphy for Congressman Tom Reed (R), who each presented official proclamations from their respective offices to the award winners. Awards included the Friends of Catholic Charities Award, the William and Dorothy Belknap Award, the Barbara Fairbanks Award, the Works of Love Award, the Spirit of Turning Point Award, the Andy Mazzella Compassion Award, the Golden Shoe Award, and the Robert Turissini Award.

The highest community honor, the Friends of Catholic Charities Award, recognizes an individual or organization that has helped CCS achieve its mission of building community, strengthening families, reducing poverty, and advocating for social justice. This year, the honor went to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester’s Associate Diocesan Director Anthony T. Barbaro of Elmira, NY.

In presenting the award, CCS Executive Director Laura Opelt said, “Tony has many qualities. He is a leader, visionary, humanitarian, and has a strong faith that he puts into action. In addition, he is a pleasure to work with, always offering a sense of humor to lighten a difficult situation or discussion. He is excellent at building consensus and giving guidance. And, while he has played a major role in the development of Catholic Charities, he rarely takes credit and always focuses on how we accomplish our work by working together and by building upon the work of those who came before us.”

The William and Dorothy Belknap Award was established to honor this couple who saw a need in the Bath community for youth services and recreational activities, so they took the initiative to start Bath Area Hope for Youth. The award recognizes an individual or organization who has, through their efforts and dedication, promoted the work of CCS in providing Substance Free Living Prevention Services to youth, families, and communities. This year’s award went to Connie Terry of Prattsburgh, NY.

Prevention Educator Barbara McCollumn presented the award saying, “For the last nine years, Connie has worked closely with the Steuben Council on Addictions to provide Prevention Education opportunities at Avoca Central School. Over the years she has continually increased the number of programs offered in her health classes. Connie is very student-orientated, cares about the health of others, and is determined and understanding. She wants her students to have current and vital information, so they can make positive life choices. Connie values the success of her students; she gives them the opportunity to learn as many skills as possible. Each time a Prevention Educator comes to present, Connie is very welcoming and always organized. Prevention work sometimes falls through the cracks, and Connie never lets this happen at Avoca. She is a huge advocate for prevention education and the work we do.”

The Barbara Fairbanks Award was established in 2013 to recognize an individual or individuals who exemplify Barb’s strong commitment to advocating for the children of Steuben County through their support of CCS’ Kinship Family and Youth service line. Recipients believe in Kinship’s mission to strengthen families and bring hope to children and demonstrate a passion for advocating for children and providing opportunities to enrich their lives. This is shown by consistently providing support to one or more of the Kinship programs, giving of themselves or their resources beyond what is expected, and by being a positive voice for Kinship in the community. This year’s recipient was CCS Child Welfare Services Director Melissa Nichols Mahany of Dansville, NY.

Mrs. Nichols Mahany provides leadership for both the Supportive Home And Parent Enrichment (SHAPE) and Therapeutic Foster Care programs. SHAPE provides home visiting to help improve family relationships and keep at-risk or troubled families together. Therapeutic Foster Care provides coordination to ensure that children in foster care receive planned services in support of their overall well-being and their ability to return home.

In presenting the award, CCS Assistant Director Gina Reagan said, “Melissa has been instrumental in enhancing, improving, and growing services available to children, youth, and families in Steuben County and beyond… She takes the time to listen to concerns of children, parents, staff, and partners. She has made her advocacy and presence in the community known. She is first to offer help, quick to respond, and never too busy to stop for a conversation and a good laugh.”

The Works of Love Award recognizes the extraordinary effort of a member of the faith community who collaborates with CCS to act on social justice issues and serve the most vulnerable in our community, advancing CCS’ mission through various works of love. This year’s award went to the Needles and Thread Sewing Group of Corning, NY. Accepting the award on behalf of the Needles and Thread Sewing Group were Mary Louise Crans and Verna Beck.

The Needles and Thread Sewing Group has been around since 1990, is housed at the Corning Senior Center, and has roughly nine members, all of whom are volunteers. In addition to the Senior Center projects, this group also works with kids from the Corning-Painted Post and Prattsburgh school districts on special projects. Having two generations working together on projects not only acts as a bridge between the two, but it also helps bring more awareness to what’s going on in the community through the act of giving.

Meeting only twice a week and working a lot at home on their own time, they make blankets of all kinds: blankets for nursing homes, blankets for the SPCA, and blankets with American Flags sewn into them for Veterans who are going into the morgue. The latter is a particularly special project as after they are uncovered, the family of the veteran then receives the blanket.
For local food pantries (including Turning Point), the Needles and Thread Sewing Group knit hats, gloves, and scarves to help vulnerable individuals stay warm in the winter months, as well as bags for people to carry their food home, especially from mobile food pantries. This group also works year-round to make stockings for the annual Christmas Giveaway that Turning Point recently took over from the Youth Bureau. This project helps children acquire gifts and stockings on Christmas Day. In 2017 alone, this project helped 228 children have a memorable Christmas.

Turning Point Director Tess McKinley presented the award saying, “As you can see, the Needles and Thread Sewing Group is very deserving of this award as they work year-round to help those who have few resources. They will fill any request or need that is brought to their attention as best as they can, and they engage young people on projects to bring awareness to them.”

The Spirit of Turning Point Award recognizes a volunteer whose contribution helps to advance the work of Turning Point, either through advocacy, education, building relationships, developing resources, or increasing capacity. This year, CCS chose to honor both David Santucci, formerly of Bath, NY, and Anne Gemmel of Hornell, NY.

Mr. Santucci had been a volunteer with Turning Point Bath from October 2017 to October 2018. Volunteering in the food pantry four, sometimes five days a week, gave David a solid understanding of the pantry, which enabled him to train all new pantry volunteers. In presenting the award, Turning Point Program Assistant Tiffany Berg said, “David was always coming to staff with new and innovative ideas to help make the pantry process smoother, more efficient, and better in terms of helping our clients get more out of the pantry. He consistently expressed an interest in gaining a better understanding of poverty and demonstrated a willingness to explore and recognize different perspectives from his own. David took pride in his work and was always looking for opportunities to help. Whether helping clients carry food to their vehicles or finding ways to make the trip home easier for those walking, he went above and beyond to help every individual.”

Gemmel has been a volunteer at Turning Point Hornell three days a week for the past eight years. Turning Point Rural Coordinator Steve Olix presented the award saying, “A long-standing member of the Catholic Church, Anne goes above and beyond every day to assist our clients. She cares deeply about every individual served and greats them all like they are a guest in her home. She is one of the sweetest people you can ever meet. She takes care of the staff, making sure we don’t get sick by disinfecting the whole office! We all love to hear her stories about when she came here from Scotland and to listen to her sing as she works. Anne Gemmel is one in a million and we are so lucky to have her at Turning Point Hornell.”

The Andy Mazzella Compassion Award was established in honor of Andy Mazzella, who dedicated many years of service to CCS both as a volunteer and paid staff, working with deeply felt compassion to assist low income families in our community who are struggling. This award gives special recognition to those individuals in CCS or in the Steuben County community who have given selflessly of themselves to improve the human condition of others. This year, the award went to Steve Olix of Hornell, NY.

In presenting the award, Turning Point Director Tess McKinley said, “Steve has given over five years of his life to this agency. He worked his way up through the ranks of our Substance Free Living Residential Services, starting out as a part-time counselor, moving his way up to a full-time counselor, and then to the Supportive Living Supervisor. When he was the Supportive Living Supervisor, he helped to grow the program so much so that another building was rented in Bath to house more residents recovering from addiction. After he moved from Supportive Living to Turning Point, he helped to grow our Turning Point poverty services by getting us connected to people leaving jail and to people in recovery that need our services. He has also been instrumental in training many different people from the Substance Free Living Residential Services and our own Turning Point poverty services.

“What really makes this person deserving of the award is his compassion and service to people in need. We have received many testimonials of how people suffering from addiction have leaned on this person for support and have gotten it in many ways. Here is one testimonial from a resident: ‘My recovery is stronger than ever thanks to Steve Olix. A supportive program where the counselor is around all the time is key. Steve is always focused on all of us reaching our individual goals and moving forward however we need to, whether it’s spiritually, mentally, or physically. Any and all issues we have are dealt with immediately, and it doesn’t matter when we call Steve, he always answers in one way or another. This is the only program where I feel my counselor truly cares and isn’t ‘just doing his job’. Steve and the staff strongly encourage growth in us in ways that are unique to us. As I get ready to transition back home, I feel confidence I haven’t had in years. I know that no matter what life throws my way, I can handle it.’ ”

The Golden Shoe Award recognizes the individual walker or team who raised the most funds for CCS’ annual Steps To End Poverty in Steuben (STEPS) Walk. The one mile walk not only raises funds to support Turning Point’s poverty programs, but also raises awareness about poverty in Steuben County. The walk takes place in three locations across Steuben County corresponding to Turning Point locations in the Bath, Corning, and Hornell/Canisteo areas. Funds raised in each location stay in that location. This year’s Golden Shoe Award recipient was Kacey Blaney of Jasper, NY, who raised more than $1,400, contributing to the more than $12,500 raised at the Turning Point Bath STEPS Walk and the more than $27,500 raised county-wide to assist our neighbors in need.

CCS’ Fundraising/Communications Director Paula Smith presented the award saying, “While this is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself, full disclosure, this is not Kacey’s first rodeo (or first STEPS Walk for that matter)! In fact, Kacey has participated in the STEPS Walks for the past four years. In 2015 and 2016, she headed up organizing the Hornell leg of the STEPS Walk, soliciting committee members and volunteers, developing the event day program, and even adding a silent auction to the festivities, not to mention walking and raising both awareness and funds. In 2015 she raised more than $1,450, in 2016 she was a Golden Shoe Award recipient having raised more than $1,650, and in 2017 she raised more than $1,350. In total, Kacey has raised almost $6,000 through the STEPS Walk for our Turning Point poverty services. We are so grateful to her for all her efforts and are so very blessed to have her support!”

The Robert Turissini Award for Extraordinary Service was established by the CCS Board of Directors as a special way to honor outstanding employees. Bob Turissini was instrumental in establishing Catholic Charities of Steuben. His dedicated service and leadership as the first CCS Board Chair guided the agency from its creation in 1997 to position the agency for success today. This year’s recipient was Turning Point Program Assistant Tiffany Berg of Bath, NY.

In presenting the award, Healthy Families Steuben Program Manager Jill Smith said, “It has been my honor to work with Tiffany and witness on a daily basis her work ethic, passion, and dedication to treating all those she encounters with the utmost dignity and respect. Whether it is a participant in need, a volunteer, a co-worker at Turning Point or from another program, her interaction with all is grounded in care and compassion.

“Tiffany is a passionate advocate for the great work being done at Turning Point and for recognizing and celebrating the dedication of all volunteers who selflessly give their time to help those in need and support staff. Her genuine, positive, dynamic, friendly, outgoing personality draws people to her and helps to create/maintain an environment of dedication, commitment, trust, and care.

“Not only is Tiffany a passionate advocate for the great work being done and services offered at Turning Point, she is also a passionate advocate of the Healthy Families Steuben Program as well. When a pregnant/new family comes into Turning Point, she shares information with them about the program and will go out of her way to see if any Healthy Families staff are present to make an immediate connection to the program. If Healthy Families staff aren’t available, she provides the potential participant with additional information about the program and then ensures their contact information is given to program staff.”

CCS gives thanks this season to all the award recipients for helping to further our mission to build communities that care for all people by strengthening and enriching the quality of life for individuals, families, and children; working to reduce poverty; and advocating for social justice. For more information, please visit

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Turning Point Thanks Bath Simmons Rockwell Employees for Food Pantry Donation

From Left: Bath Simmons Rockwell Sales Professional Paul Parshall and General Manager Ed Spiess donated more than 500 lbs. of bacon, breakfast links, ham steaks, and mild Italian sausage links on behalf of Simmons Rockwell to Turning Point food pantries in Bath, Canisteo, and Hornell.

From Left: Bath Simmons Rockwell’s Harold Rodbourn poses with Turning Point Bath Program Assistant Tiffany Berg, holding up some of the 177 lbs. of bacon, breakfast links, ham steaks, and mild Italian sausage links donated to the Turning Point Bath food pantry by Bath Simmons Rockwell General Manager Ed Spiess and Sales Professional Paul Parshall.

Turning Point would like to thank Bath Simmons Rockwell General Manager Ed Spiess and Sales Professional Paul Parshall, who donated more than 500 pounds of bacon, breakfast links, ham steaks, and mild Italian sausage links on behalf of Simmons Rockwell. The much-needed food was split between Turning Point’s food pantries in Bath, Canisteo, and Hornell. The retail value of the meat was estimated at more than $1,500.

To acquire the donation, Mr. Spiess and Mr. Parshall purchased four pigs during the annual 4-H Livestock Auction at the Steuben County Fair for more than $2,800. Log City Meats also donated the processing at an estimated value of $800, making the total value of the donation more than $5,100.

The donation will allow Turning Point to feed many of our neighbors need. “In September we served 1,454 individuals at all our food pantries, not including mobile food trucks, food in the lobby, and our other Turning Point services,” said Turning Point Director Theresa McKinley.

“The meat looks fantastic and will definitely help meet the high demand at our Bath food pantry,” said Turning Point Bath Program Assistant, Tiffany Berg. “Last month we provided food to more than 830 individuals—adults, children, and the elderly.”

From Left: Turning Point Hornell Rural Coordinator Steve Olix poses with Simmons Rockwell’s Harold Rodbourn, holding up some of the approximately 200 lbs. of bacon, breakfast links, ham steaks, and mild Italian sausage links donated to the Turning Point Hornell food pantry by Bath Simmons Rockwell General Manager Ed Spiess and Sales Professional Paul Parshall.

From Left: Turning Point Hornell Rural Coordinator Steve Olix poses with Simmons Rockwell’s Harold Rodbourn, holding up some of the 132 lbs. of breakfast links, ham steaks, and mild Italian sausage links donated to the Turning Point Canisteo food pantry by Bath Simmons Rockwell General Manager Ed Spiess and Sales Professional Paul Parshall.

“It’s always amazing to watch a community and businesses come together,” said Turning Point Hornell Rural Coordinator Steve Olix. “This donation from Simmons Rockwell is going to go a long way and help so many families. We here in Hornell and Canisteo can’t thank them enough for their kind gesture and involvement in helping us to better serve the community”

Turning Point, a service priority for Catholic Charities of Steuben, stabilizes families in economic crisis and supports them as they strive for self-sufficiency. For more information or to get involved in Turning Point programs in your area, please contact Turning Point at (607) 776-4575 in the Bath area, (607) 698-4725 in the Canisteo area, (607) 962-0704 in the Corning area, or (607) 324-3457 in the Hornell area.




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Catholic Charities of Steuben Thanks Community for Supporting “Lift Them Up” Pro-Am Charity Golf Tourney

From Left: Indian Hills Golf Pro Chris Ames and Micro Solutions Business Development Manager Kristina McCracken present a $6,000 check to Catholic Charities of Steuben Fundraising/Communications Director Paula Smith at the “Lift Them Up” Pro-Am Charity Golf Tournament Friday, September 14, 2018 at Indian Hills Golf Club.

Catholic Charities of Steuben would like to thank the community for supporting the second annual “Lift Them Up” Pro-Am Charity Golf Tournament, proudly presented by Micro Solutions and Indian Hills Golf Club. Following play, games, and raffles, Micro Solutions presented Catholic Charities of Steuben with a $6,000 check from proceeds raised at the event, which was held on Friday, September 14, 2018 at Indian Hills Golf Club, 1959 Indian Hills Road, Painted Post, NY. Additional proceeds were also donated to benefit Folds of Honor.

The tournament hosted 25 teams. Golfers were able to register individually or in teams of three. Amateur registration fees were $100 per golfer. The format was a three-person scramble with a little help from a Pro. Registration began at 9 a.m., lunch was served at 10 a.m., and play began with a shotgun start at 11 a.m. There were beer tastings

and refreshments on the course as well as plenty of chances to win prizes, including place money, hole contests, skins games, and raffle prizes. Live entertainment compliments of the Lori Lynn Barrett Band, substantial hors d’oeuvres, refreshments, and an open bar immediately followed play. The community also had the opportunity to attend only the post-play festivities for $25 per person.

First Heritage Federal Credit Union was the event’s Silver sponsor. As a Silver sponsor at $750, First Heritage received one threesome, a cart, a tee sign, two PowerPoint slides, signage at the registration table, and recognition on Catholic Charities of Steuben’s website.

Bronze Sponsors included Beartown Peaches ‘n Cream, Citizens & Northern Bank, Forest View Gang Mills Fire Department, Hale Roofing, The Mill, Superior Plus Energy Services, and Wade’s Farm and Home. Bronze sponsors at $500 received one threesome, carts, one PowerPoint slide, signage at the registration table, and recognition on Catholic Charities of Steuben’s website.
Tee Sponsors include Addison FOE #3904, Chilson-Wilcox Inc., Osceola Big M Supermarkets, Piper Insurance Agency, Wade’s Building Supply Inc., and X-Gen Pharmaceuticals Inc. Tee sponsors at $200 received a tee sign, one PowerPoint slide, signage at the registration table, and recognition on Catholic Charities of Steuben’s website.

Whether participating as a golfer, a sponsor, or providing a donation for the raffle, each opportunity provided significant support for two charities that serve our communities year-round – Catholic Charities of Steuben and Folds of Honor Foundation. Catholic Charities of Steuben builds communities that care for all people by strengthening and enriching the quality of life for individuals, families, and children; working to reduce poverty; and advocating for social justice. Folds of Honor Foundation provides educational scholarships to spouses and children of fallen and disabled service members.

For more information about Micro Solutions, please contact Micro Solutions Business Development Manager Kristina McCracken at 607-962-1542 ext. 170 or For more information about Indian Hills Golf Club, please contact Indian Hills Golf Club Golf Pro Chris Ames at 607-523-8060 or

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Catholic Charities Thanks Corning Incorporated Foundation for Vibrant Community Grant Award

From Left: Laura Opelt, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of Steuben; Johnanna Gigliotti, Corporate Staffs, Corning Incorporated; Paula Smith, Fundraising/Communications Director, Catholic Charities of Steuben.

Catholic Charities of Steuben would like to thank Corning Incorporated Foundation for awarding a $1,000 Employee Vibrant Community Grant, one of 65 grants issued in celebration of the Foundation’s 65th Anniversary.

The Employee Vibrant Community Grants were awarded to eligible non-profit organizations based on employee nominations. Nominating Catholic Charities of Steuben was Johanna Gigliotti, Corporate Staffs.

Gigliotti presented the check to Catholic Charities of Steuben Executive Director, Laura Opelt, and Fundraising/Communications Director, Paula Smith earlier this month.

Building communities that care for all people is key to Catholic Charities’ mission. The agency offers a wide range of services that that empower people to enrich their quality of life. Programs focus on promoting healthy child development and healthy family functioning, reducing substance abuse, and alleviating poverty. The grant will go toward general program support.

The Foundation has thoughtfully granted more than $167,600,000 to non-profit organizations since it was founded in 1952. Through leadership and collaboration, the Foundation strives to foster vibrant, enriching, and supportive communities.

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Turning Point Now Offers Unlimited Bus Tokens to Connect People on Medicaid with Medical Appointments

Turning Point has partnered with Medical Answering Services (MAS), a New York State Medicaid-funded program based out of Syracuse, to provide bus tokens to connect people on Medicaid with medical appointments. This partnership was made possible through the efforts of the Institute for Human Services (IHS).

Turning Point is still able to provide a limited amount of bus tokens per person per month for medical appointments—a service made possible through IHS funding—regardless of whether a person has Medicaid. However, with this new partnership, there is no limit to the number of bus tokens Turning Point can provide to connect people on Medicaid with medical appointments. Turning Point is the only agency in Steuben County to offer this service to the public.

People on Medicaid are able to call MAS to request bus tokens for medical appointments. The tokens are sent via mail, taking time that a person may not have the luxury to wait. Medicaid recipients can still choose this route, but with this new partnership, people on Medicaid don’t have to wait for their bus tokens to arrive in the mail. Instead, Medicaid recipients can go directly to any one of four Turning Point locations across Steuben County for bus tokens to connect with medical appointments.

Turning Point Director Theresa McKinley said, “Turning Point has been assisting people with transportation needs as part of our services for 20 years.  Primarily we offer bus tokens at no cost for social and human service assistance, for employment interviews or initial job training until a first paycheck arrives, and also for medical appointments.  Turning Point distributed over 600 bus tokens in  June 2017, and nearly 50% of them were used to transport 98 people to various medical appointments.

“Starting in July, with our new status as a Medicaid Transportation Site, we can give Medicaid members direct, unlimited bus token assistance to those appointments.  Turning Point staff offer a personal connection to a system that is statewide, and not easy to navigate using a centralized phone service.  With the support of staff, we can engage with Medicaid members in our office,  provide the tokens and public transportation education and advocacy needed to overcome transportation barriers.  This service is an important part of Community Navigation services that Turning Point provides as part of recent Medicaid redesign.”

Turning Point locations include:  Turning Point Bath, 23 Liberty Street, Bath, NY; Turning Point Corning, 1 Park Lane, Corning, NY (co-located with the Corning Senior Center); Turning Point Hornell, 20 Elm Street, Suite 2, Hornell, NY; or Steuben County Rural Ministry, 34 West Main Street, Canisteo, NY.

If a person cannot get to a medical appointment by bus, Medicaid recipients can still call MAS for alternate modes of transportation. In Steuben County, the MAS number to call is 1-855-733-9401.

Turning Point also provides bus tokens to connect people to their place of work, other food pantries, the Department of Social Services, human service agency appointments, and the Bath VA.  Bus tokens are made available to Turning Point to distribute through the generosity of IHS.

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Bath, NY  14810
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