Seven people will be honored next week at Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes’ Sharing the Light Award Dinner.
The annual event recognizes the volunteer work of people of all faiths throughout the area.
“Every day, all across the Finger Lakes, people are working to make a significant difference in the lives of others”, said Frank Capozzi, Executive Director. This award provides an opportunity for us to take time to recognize their hard work, caring and compassionate spirts,” Capozzi said.
The award dinner will be held June 13th at Hobart and William Smith’s Vandervort Room in Geneva. More on the dinner and ticket info is available on Catholic Charity’s website.
Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes operates in Cayuga, Seneca, Ontario and Yates counties.
This year’s honorees are as follows:
Brian Finnerty has lived in Geneva all 46 years of his life. He graduated from Geneva High School in 1996. Brian drove school bus for the Geneva City Schools for fifteen years. He has been working at Pedulla’s Wine and Liquor for the past twenty-eight years and has owned it for the past ten years.
Brian is very active in the Geneva community. He has been a member of the Nester Hose Fire Company for twenty-five years. He served on the Board of Directors of the Company for twenty years, having recently stepped down from that position. Brian also serves on the Geneva City School District Board of Education. He is a member of the Sons of the American Legion, the Geneva Rotary, Our Lady of Peace Parish and the Knights of Columbus (fourth degree).
Service to his community has been an important part all of his life as it was something that his parents always did and taught their children to do. Brian is very grateful to be the third-generation owner of Pedullla’s and appreciates the community supporting him. Therefore, he will always give back when he can.
Brian has worked on the following projects: volunteering for the Geneva Marathon; fundraising for the Nester Hose and the Geneva Fire Department; volunteering for the Middle Finger 5K; reading for the little ones at West Street School; having a live Nativity at his house for three years. Also, Brian sat on the Board of IDA for three years.
Brian received the Retailer of the Year award from the New York State Wine and Grape Foundation in 2018. He has also been the Finger Lakes Times Best Liquor Store.
Brian feels that his greatest accomplishment is the birth of his two beautiful daughters.
Brian wishes to acknowledge his mother, Theresa, and his late father, Gary Finnerty; his siblings: Sean Finnerty, Maureen Cunningham, Meghan Finnerty; his partner, Tony Chiappone.
Bob Hegeman has lived in the Finger Lakes Region for seventy-five years. He graduated from Pittsford-Sutherland High School in 1967 and had a two-year carpentry apprenticeship at BOCES.
Bob did construction work for several years, building houses and apartment complexes throughout the area. He built his own home forty-nine years ago and, more recently, built a home for his daughter and her family. Bob also worked for one and one-half years for the Palmyra Highway Department under the CETA program and for twelve years with Wayne Disposal. For thirty years, Bob was employed in sales and maintenance at Spring Valley Greenhouse.
Bob is a member of St. Michael’s Church in Newark where he has served as a Eucharistic Minister, an usher, as a member of Parish Council (chairman for two years and Council Venture chairman for ten years) and, currently, is chairman of the Buildings and Grounds committee. Also at St. Michael’s, he chaired the St. Michael’s Festival for ten years.
Bob believes in helping others, both by helping families in need as well as the organizations who help those in need. Currently, Bob is a member of the board of Family Promise of Wayne County. He was instrumental in the renovation of the current Day Resource Center and is chair of the Transportation and Facility Committees. Bob is a volunteer at Laurel House where he also oversaw and helped with the renovation of the facility, saving over $100,000.
Other community projects in which Bob has participated include Habitat for Humanity where he has helped to build one home from the ground up and to remodel five others. He was part of a crew of builders of the original wooden playground at Perkins Park. He is also a member of the Pal-Mac Lions Club. Bob is a veteran, proudly serving one year in Vietnam.
Bob has sat with many loved ones during their dying process, including his mother and his sister; his wife, Martha, of forty-six years; and his partner, Becke Tomkiewicz (in whose memory he is helping to raise funds to purchase an apartment building for Family Promise of Wayne County). Becke, after the death of his wife, helped him during his grieving process and inspired him to become more active in Family Promise and the Lions Club.
Bob has received the following awards: 2018 Alex Eligh Citizen of the Year/Proclamation from the Mayor of Newark; Paul Harris Award presented by the Newark Rotarians; the Golden Six award for donating over 16 gallons of blood; and in Scouting: the Venturing Leadership Award, Scoutmaster of the Year, Cubmaster of the Year and the Silver Beaver Award.
Bob feels that his greatest accomplishment is to have been married for forty-six years and to have been a parent to two wonderful children. He wishes to acknowledge his late wife, Martha; his partner, Becke, his parents, his children, Brian and Erin and his three Grandchildren.
Ellen Hughes has lived most of her life in the Finger Lakes Region, having moved here when she was three years old. She attended St. Mary’s Catholic School in Waterloo, ranking first in the Class of 1964 and Waterloo High School, ranking first in the Class of 1968. Ellen graduated with a B.A. from SUNY Oswego in 1972. She spent her junior year at the University of Madrid in Spain. Ellen earned a Master’s degree in 1984 from Nazareth College, receiving the Student Teacher of the Year Award.
Ellen’s earliest employment was at Wickes Lumber during her high school years and some after. While her children were young, she stayed at home with them and cared for other children in her home. During her career as a teacher, Ellen taught third grade at the Border City School for one year and, then, for twenty-six years, taught Spanish at the Waterloo High School where she was named Teacher of the Year in 1997.
Ellen is a member and officer of the following: Waterloo School Board (President); Literacy Volunteers of Seneca County Board (Vice-President); Trevor’s Backpack Program (Committee Chair and Representative to Taste and Tunes Committee); Seneca County Community Christmas Project (Vice-Chair); Delta Kappa Gamma Sorority for Women Educators (Director of Pi State Educational Foundation; Grant recipient for project to buy one book for each child in Seneca County who receives weekend food.) Ellen is also a member of Phi Beta Psi Sorority supporting cancer research; Seneca County Children’s Committee; Seneca County Retired Teachers Association; Women’s Leadership Council; and Seneca County United Way Fill the Bus Committee.
As a member of the Waterloo Rotary Club, on the Club level, Ellen is currently on the Board of Directors; she is co-chair of the Fall Frolic and ExtravaCANza (participating groups build structures out of cans on which the public votes and which are donated to Hunger Initiatives). She started the Service Above Self Award given to a non-Rotarian who exemplifies the motto and the Interact Club, a service organization for teens, at the Waterloo High School. Ellen is two times past president and past secretary of the Rotary Club. On the District level, Ellen is currently Rotary Foundation Committee Fundraising Chair and Interim Grants Chair; Past District Governor; past Youth Exchange Officer and Chair, Past District Interact Chair.
Ellen is a member of St. Francis and St. Clare Parish where she is a Eucharistic Minister, Lector and Commentator. She is currently Summer Festival Prize Booth chair and a past Festival chair. She is a Past member of the Parish Council and the Finance Committee; past Religious Instructions teacher and a member of the Social Ministry Committee. Ellen is a member of Catholic Daughters of America Court Theresa #806 where she is Financial Secretary and a Pancake Breakfast Volunteer.
Service to her community is important to Ellen because she believes “that we all have a responsibility to give back and to care for others to the best of our ability. Service is a way of life that enriches all involved. My life has been blessed in many ways and to give back is not only a duty but a privilege.”
In addition to the Teacher of the Year Award she received in 1997, Ellen has received the First Honorary Angel of Waterloo (2004), the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year (2013), and, from the Rotary: multiple Paul Harris Fellows, Major Donor, Bequest Society Member and Paul Harris Society Member.
Ellen feels that, without a doubt, her greatest accomplishment is raising her children to help them be the good people they are today. She wishes to acknowledge: her husband, Jim; her mother, Jean C. Schaumloeffel (deceased); her sisters, Linda Reeder and Susan (Eamon) Coyne; her daughter, Dr. Nicole Kaib and her spouse, Dr. David Kaib; her son, Joseph Qualtieri and his spouse, Dr. Julie Qualtieri; her granddaughters, Alexis and Corinne Qualtieri; her nieces and nephews and their families; her aunt and uncle, Rosemary and Bill Beikirch (deceased).
Victor and Dolores Nelson have lived in the Finger Lakes Region for twenty-six year. They came here when Victor was offered the opportunity to open and manage the Ramada Geneva Lakefront Hotel.
Victor and Dolores grew up in Newark, New Jersey, graduating from public high schools in the city (Victor from Malcolm X Shabazz; Dolores from Weequahic). Dolores continued her education at the Sawyer School of Business in Elizabeth, N.J., and then studied hotel management at the Thomas E. Nelson Community College in Newport News, Virginia. Victor attended Montclair State College for Physical Education; he is a Certified Hotel Administrator, a Certified Food and Beverage Executive and a Certified T.I.P.S. Trainer.
Victor has been employed in the Hospitality industry for more than forty years working for Holiday Inns Inc., Ramada Worldwide Inc., Wyndham Hotels and other hospitality management companies in Arizona, Georgia, New Jersey M and Ohio. Locally he has held administrative/management positions at the Ramada Geneva Lakefront Hotel, the Geneva Hampton Inn and, in Canandaigua, at Steamboat Landing. He has also held positions in hospitality operations in Cortland, Ithaca and Rochester.
Dolores worked in the Hospitality industry as a bookkeeper/manager for twenty-one years with Hemisphere Hotels in New Jersey and in Williamsburg, Virginia and two years at the Radison Hotel in Cincinnati, Ohio. Since relocating in Geneva, she was employed for seven years at the Finger Lakes Times and has also worked in medical and accounting offices and as a Center of Disability home health aide.
Victor and Dolores are active members of the Geneva community. They are committed active members of Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church. At the church, Dolores is Vice-President of the Usher Board, Financial Recording Secretary, and Pastors Aide President. Victor is a Church Trustee.
Dolores was a Board Member of the Geneva Center of Concern. She is a member and the Coordinator for Art and Poetry of the Martin Luther King Committee. Dolores is a member of the NAACP, volunteers for the Food Bank in Geneva and Ithaca and was a Team Coordinator for Family Promise. She was the coordinator for community Covid vaccinations at Mt. Olive MBC.
Victor has been a member of the Board of Directors and an officer of the African American Men’s Association (Secretary), the Boys and Girls Club of Geneva (former Chairperson), FLACRA (former Chairperson), Rotary, New York State Hospitality & Tourism Association (Secretary), Ramada Inns National Association (member of the Operations Sub-Committee), Finger Lakes Visitors Connection, Finger Lakes Tourism Alliance, City of Geneva Board of Ethics, United Way, Jobs for Geneva (City Advisory Board). Geneva Housing Authority (Commissioner). Other committees/organizations of which he is/has been a member include: Geneva Ark Lodge of the Masons, Noble of Damascus Shriners, Mayors Task Force (City of Geneva), Lakefront Planning Committee, City of Geneva City Manager Search Committee, Hobart William Smith President’s Award, NAACP, Black Lives Matter Initiatives.
In recognition of their service to the community, Victor and Dolores have received several awards. The NAACP awarded Dolores the Mary Ann Mallard service award. She has received an Award of Appreciation for service from Mt. Olive MBC and the Quick Silver Theatre Company gave her a recognition award.
The NAACP has awarded Victor the Mary Ann Mallard and the Clarence Day awards. He received the President’s Award from Hobart William Smith and the Paul Harris award from Rotary. From the business world, Victor received the 2001 Business of the Year from the Chamber of Commerce and the 1998 Outstanding Tourism Executive of the Year from the NYSTHA. Between 2000 and 2007, Victor received eight awards from Ramada Inns for his excellence in various aspects of the Hospitality industry.
Dolores feels that her greatest accomplishments are maintaining health and survival of cancer for over ten years and, most of all, marrying her husband (of over forty years) who has been by her side through it all. Victor feels that his greatest accomplishment is maintaining a family and surviving all the trials, tribulations, challenges and roadblocks that he has had to face throughout his life.
Dolores and Victor wish to acknowledge each other; their daughter, Tiffany; their son, Jamahl. Dolores wishes to acknowledge her mother, Mary Lou Jones and her mother-in-law, Eunice Nelson, both of whom are deceased and were very influential in her life. Victor wishes to acknowledge his mother, Eunice Nelson; his siblings, Arnell and Angela, lifelong supporters; and his church family at Mount Olive Missionary Baptist Church.
Eleanor B. Parker has lived in the Finger Lakes Region all of her life. Her educational background includes the Dundee Central School, Geneva School of Practical Nursing, Baylor Medical Center in Dallas (Ob and Peds), FLCC (A.A.S. In Nursing), Empire State College (Bachelors in Professional Studies), Elmira College (Master’s courses, but not a degree).
Eleanor has been employed as a nurse at Baylor Medical Center in Dallas and at Soldiers and Sailors Hospital in Penn Yan. She has been a substitute nurse at Keuka Lake School, all of Penn Yan School system, Dundee Central,and BOCES.
Service to community is important to Eleanor because: “When I was little, I needed help and there were people there to help me.”
Eleanor has been a member and officer of the following organizations: Benton Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary, Yates County Fire Association Auxiliary, Benton Methodist Church, Seneca Lake Lodge #321, Eastern Star, American Red Cross (board member), American Cancer Society (past president and board member), Windmill (founder and past board member). Eleanor has also been a volunteer in the following community projects: the Living Well, the Once Again Shoppe, the Backpack Program, the Yates Christmas Program, the Hope Food Pantry, the Yates County Office of the Aging, Rochester Area Multiple Sclerosis (works on annual walk in Canandaigua).
Eleanor has received the following awards: American Red Cross, appreciation for disaster service. American Cancer Society, State Education Committee, Masonic Lodge (Volunteer of the Year for exceptional contribution and distinguished volunteer), NYS Office of the Aging, outstanding volunteer contributions; Windmill, Founders Award; Seneca Lake Lodge #321 F.A.M., Citizen of the Year, Yates County Citizen of the Year; Yates County, recognition of fifty years of volunteering.
Eleanor feels that her greatest accomplishments are, one, with her husband, being a founder of the Windmill, serving as co-chair of the site selection committee; and, two, being a nurse and being able to help and connect with people of all different ages and backgrounds.
Eleanor wishes to acknowledge her husband, William Parker (deceased); her daughter, Susan Schwingle (deceased); her son, Jeffery Parker who is past Fire Chief in Bellona.
Rhoda Overstreet-Wilson has lived in the Finger Lakes Region her entire life. She has a doctorate in Educational Leadership with a minor in social justice. Rhoda worked twenty-five years in the Juvenile Justice system, six years in health care and six years in higher education.
Rhoda has been a member and has held positions in the following organizations: Booker T. Washington Community Center (President), Harriet Tubman Center for Justice and Peace (President), Cayuga Branch of NAACP (Vice-President), Auburn Human Rights Commission, Auburn School Board, Building Bridges Committee (building community relations between law enforcement and the community), College Success Coach, Minority Professional Association (promoting entrepreneurship in minority communities), NYS Harriet Tubman Residential Center for Youth Advocacy. Rhoda states: “Each of the boards I sit on have been responsible for the many community projects that have led to change and progressive thought in Auburn. My purpose to serve on those boards was to be involved and change can only occur when there is acknowledgment that it is necessary.”
Service to her community is important to Rhoda because: “Community service is important because it is how transformation and pathways are built for future generations. It is vital for leaders to understand the work is not for accolades but for the change we seek. The reward is knowing that you are a part of something bigger than you are and your footprints will be left to help lead and direct. Community service is a part of my life because my natural instinct is to advocate and do so in a way that highlights the work and effort, not me as an individual. I want to create a light so other young women of color know that dreaming and achieving goals in this life can be done and you do not have to live without hope. Additionally, someone laid the path for me, and I just picked up the baton to carry to the next leader.”
Rhoda has received the following awards: NAACP Community Leadership Award, NAACP Religious Service Award, Kaleidoscope Community Service Award, MLK Community Leadership Award. She says: “Much of the work I do is behind the scenes by donating time to the many different boards and committee’s she sits on. I do not demonstrate fanfare, nor do I self-promote as I believe the reward is evident when change occurs.
Rhoda feels that her greatest accomplishment is “doing God’s will. I tried just to be a small version of myself, keep my head down and make as little noise as I could, but my soul would not rest. This is how I know the life I lead is not my choice, it is ordained and is just manifesting. Because I am obedient, his grace has allowed me to experience the rewards of my contentment. I have the best husband who was made just for me, I was given the privilege to raise two of the best human beings on earth and I became the grandmother to two of the world’s next transformational leaders. Without God I would be nothing, without him I would fail, and because of him I can be Rhoda without permission.”
Rhoda wishes to acknowledge: husband, Roy Wilson; eldest son, Jahmere Wilson; youngest son, Dejuan Wilson; mom, Rita Macknail; sister, Michelle Overstreet; grandmother, Lillie Mae Marino (deceased) and her church family and close friends.