As a lifelong resident of the Finger Lakes region, Frank Capozzi Jr. has long been aware of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes’ presence in his community. Since taking over the organization’s reins last fall, however, he’s made it his mission to ensure the rest of his community also is familiar with Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes’ efforts to serve a wide variety of local needs.
“I feel Catholic Charities is one of the best-kept secrets in terms of what we do,” Capozzi recently told the Catholic Courier. “I want to shine a light on the great work we do.”
Capozzi became executive director of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes in October, when Deacon Peter Dohr retired after nine years at the agency’s helm. The position seemed like a good fit for Capozzi, a lifelong Catholic with years of experience in the nonprofit sector in the Finger Lakes region.
Agency’s new director has Finger Lakes roots, background in Scouts
Capozzi grew up in Seneca Falls and as a child belonged to St. Patrick Parish, which now is part of St. Frances and St. Clare Parish. He attended Finger Lakes Community College before earning his bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Keuka College.
Capozzi currently resides in Geneva with his wife, Paula Caito-Capozzi, and their three children. The family belongs to Geneva’s Our Lady of Peace Parish, where both Frank and Paula are catechists in the parish’s faith-formation program.
Prior to joining Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, Capozzi had worked for the Boy Scouts of America. He joined the organization after graduating from Keuka College in 2005, serving first as a district executive for the Finger Lakes Council.
“I worked in Ontario, Seneca and Yates counties, working with the volunteers that deliver Scouting in local communities. We provided them with training, resources and support to run high-quality programs. I also did fundraising and a variety of other tasks as well, and I had a small community board I worked with,” Capozzi said.
He later moved to the organization’s development staff, where he was involved with grant writing, fundraising events and a planned-giving program. In 2021, he became chief operating officer of the Boy Scouts of America’s Seneca Waterways Council, which was formed from the 2009 merger of the former Finger Lakes and Otetiana councils.
Catholic Charities agency is ‘great fit’ for director’s faith, professional experience
Capozzi enjoyed the 17 years he spent working for the Boy Scouts of America, yet he was intrigued when he learned of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes’ search for a new executive director.
“The mission and the values that the organization represents just called to me,” he said.
Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes’ mission of serving all people in need regardless of their backgrounds or situations lined up perfectly with the values and beliefs that had been instilled in him since he was a child, he explained.
“When I learned the position was available, I couldn’t pass up that opportunity to be able to shift my career into an area where I could directly serve and do good for the people in the community who are in the greatest need. That was something I couldn’t turn away from. It’s just been a great fit,” Capozzi said.
Agency serves diverse populations throughout five-county region
Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes is a very complex agency, both because it serves people across a five-county area but also because the populations it serves are many and varied, he said. Its Geneva Community Lunch Program, for example, provides free nutritious meals each weekday, while the Community Clothing Center in Wolcott provides free clothing to those who need it. The agency provides counseling services to children in Wayne County schools and provides services to drug-treatment courts in three counties, Capozzi said.
“I don’t think people understand the full reach of our programs and how they fit in, and the fact that they’re under our administration,” he remarked. “I want to make sure we do the best job we possibly can at demonstrating to the community who we are and what we do.”
One of the agency’s goals since merging with Catholic Charities of Wayne County in 2021 has been to determine how best to expand its location-specific programs throughout its coverage area, which encompasses Ontario, Yates, Wayne, Seneca and Cayuga counties.
Regardless of where they’re located or who they serve, all of the agency’s programs are staffed by dedicated people determined to help their clients, Capozzi said.
“That commonality drives our team to do all of the great things that we’re able to accomplish,” he said.Tags: Catholic Charities, Cayuga County News, Ontario County News, Seneca County News, Wayne County News, Yates County News