A fund-raiser dinner benefitting Unity Acres was organized for April 19th , at Pensabene’s Casa Grande, on State Fair Blvd. This was to celebrate Unity Acres’ 43rd Anniversary. Approximately 225 attended, including a delegation of staff, residents and other “North Country folks” ho traveled together in comfort in a big yellow school bus.(Thank–you, Sandy Creek School District!) This year’s theme was “the Mustard Seed” (Matthew 13, 31–32), our honorees were Bob & Betty Belge, Mark Capone and Mary Maples. Mike De Salvo, Jerry Berrigan and Pat Waelder were presenters for the honorees. Each of the honorees received a framed “Sacred Heart award” which features the reproduction of a cross design that appears on the altar in our Sacred Heart Chapel. These awards were created by Rick Bowman. Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by the McCarthy Family Singers — Jim, Deirdre, and Shane. Paul Wittjung and Sister Monica Nortz ‘emcee’d’ for the evening. Father Fred Daley was our key–note speaker.
Our thanks to all who spent many hours organizing this enjoyable evening, deciding the theme, the decor and the menu, producing the invitations, and addressing the many other details that inevitably arise. This was the 4 thsuch dinner organized by our dedicated fund–raiser committee since the celebration of our 40th anniversary in 2009. Our thanks as well tothe staff and management at Pensabene’s for a delicious meal and excellent service, and finally, toall who attendedor supported the event.
A few weeks after our evening at Pensabene’s, a delegation of Unity Acres staff and residents again headed south to Syracuse on May 3rd, this time to attend the annual Dorothy Day Awarddinner, held at St. Lucy’s, and this year honoring St. Lucy’s pastor, Father Jim Mathews. The Dorothy Day Awards were originally sponsored by parishioners of St. Andrew’s parish (now closed) to benefit Dorothy Day House, an emergency shelter for women in Syracuse and to highlight and celebrate the influence of the Catholic Worker philosophy in the Syracuse community.
In mid–May, preparations for the vegetable garden begin each year. (May 15 this the memorial for Saint Isidore the Farmer.) For the second year, our neighbor Reuben brings a team of horses to the Acres, on a Saturday, to work the garden before planting begins. Then Henry goes to Trust Nursery in Pulaski to purchase the tomato, pepper, cabbage and broccoli plants (and a few others) plus seeds for squash, beans, corn, radishes (and afew others). The plants have been in the ground, and are growing well.
In mid–spring we also plan for the burial of any of our men who have passed away during the prior winter months, and whose remains have been stored in the vault at the cemetery in Pulaski. This year there were two spring burials — Robert Garrison and Steve Powers. Steve’s brother and sister–in–law, Joe and Joan,travelled up from Yonkers to attend the interment of Steve’s ashes, and a family friend of Bob’s joined us from Waterloo for the interment of Bob’s remains.In the interim, we received the news that John Conway,died in Syracuse on April 19th , at the age of 74. John, better known to us as ‘Whitey’, had lived at the Acres for several yearsduring the 1990s,helped in the kitchen and also did some ‘tailoring’ for the men and volunteers, but finally settled at the Toomey–Abbott apartments in Syracuse. Although Whitey had been away from the Acres for at least eight or ten years, he would contact us from time to time, to reiterate his wish to be buried at Unity Acres. John’s funeral was conducted at our Sacred Heart Chapel, with burial following immediately afterward at Saint Martin de Porres Cemetery, on April 26 th. John’s sister Virginia and cousin Helen traveled from out–of–state to be in attendance for the services.
Also in connection with the cemetery, we have started a practice of placing flags at the each of the veteran’s grave. (This was at Marie Lambie’s suggestion a few years ago.) Loretta, Mark B, and a group of veterans organized the placing of the flags on the Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. The flags will remain at the graves until November 11, Veterans Day. There are now over 70 verterans buried at Saint Martin de Porres Cemetery, out of a total of approximately 210 graves. In the days before hand, Don H and Mark B had spent many hours getting the cemetery ready. Bob K led the gathering in a brief prayer honoring the veterans, their services, and their lives.