||At the Catholic Charities Awards Dinner are, from left: Brian Cain, Catholic Charities president; Ruth Ann Grantham, Awards Dinner Committee co-chair; Leadership Award recipients Fr. Dale Grubba, Wayne Esser, and Beth Bauer; Bishop Robert C. Morlino; and Leadership Award recipient Dr. Richard J. Hendricks. (Photos/Michael Mowbray of Beautiful Portraits by Michael)
MIDDLETON -- “If it wasn’t for Catholic Charities, I wouldn’t be alive today,” Kelly Livingston told those attending the 16th annual Catholic Charities (CC) Awards Dinner held on November 10 at the Marriott Hotel here.
Livingston was one of three recipients of Catholic Charities’ President’s Awards, given to CC clients. Their stories show how Catholic Charities makes a difference and brings hope to people — and how these individuals in turn help others.
In the case of Kelly Livingston, he had difficulty achieving long-term sobriety until he made progress through his participation in Hope Haven-Rebos United’s treatment program. He has now been sober for over two years and has steady employment.
Record attendance again
Over 500 people attended the Awards Dinner, another record attendance. “This is the largest annual social gathering in the Diocese of Madison,” observed Msgr. Michael Burke, pastor of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison and member of the CC Board of Directors.
“It’s amazing to see the support for Catholic Charities when nonprofits are facing many challenges,” said Monsignor Burke in welcoming people to the dinner.
The event honors those who put their faith in action and provides financial support for Catholic Charities’ many programs. This year’s Awards Dinner proceeds will especially benefit CC programs which help families and aging persons.
Charity is alive and well
Bishop Robert C. Morlino, in his comments, thanked those attending “for the sacrifice of time to witness that charity is alive and well in the diocese.”
He pointed to the Scripture story of the 10 virgins, five who were wise and had their oil ready for the arrival of the bridegroom and five who were foolish and not ready.
“Augustine said the oil they ran out of was the oil of charity,” said the bishop. “We need oil so that our lights are shining brightly. May our lamps continue to burn brightly so the dignity of the human person from conception to natural death will be protected by what we say and what we do.”
Master of Ceremonies Jay Wilson of WISC-TV, Channel 3, introduced priests, Brothers, Sisters, and deacons present at the dinner as well as members of the Catholic Charities Board, Awards Dinner committee, and CC staff.
Brian Cain, CC president for the past 23 years, said, “Tonight we have an opportunity to create awareness of our programs, which help and create hope for those in need.”
He said the first three President’s Award recipients are individuals who have overcome struggles, obstacles, and challenges and are making a difference in people’s lives.
The recipients told their stories in video segments, along with Catholic Charities’ staff who work with them. The honorees included:
• Marcus Cory, a client in Catholic Charities’ Support Broker Program, which assists individuals with development disabilities to lead self-directed lives. Cory’s life changed dramatically on July 27, 2001, when he was involved in a motorcycle accident. He suffered severe traumatic brain injury and lost his ability to walk, talk, eat, use his left arm and hand, work, and care for himself. In 2003 with the help of the CC Support Broker Program, he moved into a house in the community. He has made amazing strides, including being able to communicate with a device with voice output, being able to walk through the use of an anti-gravity device, and returning to work. He enjoys fishing and even threw out a pitch at a Madison Mallards game.
• Kelly Livingston, a client in Hope Haven-Rebos United programs dealing with persons experiencing difficulty with alcohol and other drug abuse issues. After experiencing difficulty achieving long-term sobriety, Livingston spent years being homeless, unemployed, and barely surviving on the streets of Madison. He was determined to accept responsibility for change in his life and did so with the help of Hope Haven-Rebos United. He has now been sober for over two years and has his own apartment, truck, and steady employment. He has helped others by his example.
• Tiffany Hadley, a client with Community Connections, a day leisure program for adults with developmental disabilities. Hadley was born with developmental disabilities and has endured difficulties in her life, including abuse and neglect. In 2009, she moved to Janesville into an adult family home and became a client of Catholic Charities and started attending Community Connections. She has blossomed, interacts more with people, and is learning sign language. She is building new skills and enjoys an improved quality of life.
Youth Faith in Action Awards
Catholic Charities established its Youth Faith in Action Awards last year to provide a scholarship for deserving high school seniors who put their faith into action.
Jean Elvekrog, co-chair of the Awards Dinner Committee, said all parishes in the diocese were invited to nominate outstanding high school seniors. “The number was so impressive that we decided to honor two students,” she said. The award winners are:
• Dylan Smith Cayo, a senior at Lake Mills High School and member of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Lake Mills. He is involved in his parish as a religious education teacher and altar server. He is involved in the Boy Scouts and community and school organizations.
• Phillip J. Fonfara, a senior at Edgewood High School and a member of Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Parish, Sun Prairie. He is a volunteer at his parish, including being a Mass server and helping at the parish festival and spring cleaning. He is involved in the Boy Scouts and is active in community and school organizations.
Ruthann Grantham, co-chair of the Awards Dinner Committee, presented four Leadership Awards honoring people in the community who consistently incorporate Catholic values in their leadership.
Recipients this year with their comments (in italics) are:
• Beth Bauer is an active volunteer at St. Ann Parish in Stoughton.
“For me, I like to stay in the background. I like being involved in the fall festival and ministries of the Church. Working with youth is the most frustrating and the most fulfilling.”
• Wayne Esser is an active member of St. Francis Xavier Parish, Cross Plains, where he served as athletic director for 25 years. He is also a 57-year member of the Knights of Columbus and involved in community organizations and the family business, Esser Distributing Company.
“I share this award with many people in my parish. We have a special school in Cross Plains and many great people. ”
• Fr. Dale Grubba is the pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish (and school principal) in Princeton and St. James Parish in Neshkoro. He spent 13 years on the faculty of Holy Name Seminary, including coaching cross country and track. He also serves as a national car racing chaplain.
“Roger Penske said, ‘If you want to be successful, surround yourself with good people.’ That’s what I’ve done. I have a great staff at my parishes and St. John’s School.”
• Dr. Richard J. Hendricks is a member of St. Maria Goretti Parish in Madison and has been a physician in Madison and vice-president of medical affairs at St. Mary’s Hospital, where he still serves on the Bioethics Committee. He is also a volunteer in many medical and community organizations.
“I have had a special relationship with St. Mary’s Hospital — I worked there and was a patient. I’ve been involved at St. Maria Goretti Parish, Comfort Keepers, and the Catholic Multicultural Center. I’d like to share this award with all the people I’ve known.”