Four Finger Lakes residents were honored during Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes’ 2004 Sharing the Light dinner, which was held at Geneva’s Club 86 on June 2. Michael and Helen Simeone of St. Francis de Sales Parish in Geneva; Joyce Sinicropi of St. Patrick’s Parish in Seneca Falls; and Milly Bloomquist of the First Baptist Church in Penn Yan were recognized for their commitment to community service.
Michael Simeone has been a lifelong member of St. Francis de Sales and has served as a lector at the parish for the past 20 years. Over the years, he’s also sat on “zillions of committees,” served as president of the Holy Name Society and helped with fund drives and the parish’s annual summer festival. In 1958 he served as grand knight of the Knights of Columbus and currently has 4th Degree member status in the organization. He tries to volunteer with the parish whenever he has time, he said.
“If I’m free I like to go over and do whatever I can. I’m one of those guys that can’t say no,” he said.
Michael served as a Geneva city councilman from 1962-68, when he became mayor of the city, a position he held until 1972. He then served for five years as a member of the Ontario County Board of Supervisors. He was also a member of the Ontario County Alcohol Beverage Control Board for 23 years.
His wife, Helen, has been a member of St. Francis de Sales Parish since she moved to Geneva and married Michael 54 years ago. She has spent many hours volunteering at the Geneva Food Pantry and the Geneva Center of Concern and is a member of the St. Francis de Sales Social Ministry Committee.
The couple try to help out and do whatever is asked of them, Helen said. They enjoy meeting people and having the opportunity to help others and do God’s work.
“We’re not rich; we’re not wealthy people, but we’ve had a good healthy life and my children have all been very lucky, too, and I think it’s all because of God,” Helen said. “I just figure that God has been good to us and I wanted to pay something back. I thought helping people would be a good way to do it. Whatever you do for God, God repays you.”
Joyce Sinicropi has been a member of St. Patrick’s Parish in Seneca Falls since she was baptized there 63 years ago and has served on many parish committees, including the finance and stewardship committees. She was a member of the board of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes for five years, serving as treasurer and chair of the finance committee, and is a member of several other community boards and organizations, including the Seneca County Local Development Corp. and the Seneca Falls Business and Professional Women’s Club.
“I cannot begin to adequately thank the board of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes for extending this tremendous honor to the four of us tonight,” Sinicropi said in her acceptance speech at the dinner. “Reflecting on the great accomplishments of those people who have been honored in the previous nine years, I find myself in a very humbling position when compared to their good deeds.”
Milly Bloomquist has been a member of Penn Yan’s First Baptist Church for 45 years. She serves on the church’s education board and is the congregation’s representative to the Penn Yan Area Council of Churches. She is also on the Board of Family Counseling of the Finger Lakes and is a member of the Center for Dispute Settlement’s panel on surrogate decision-making for the mentally impaired.
Bloomquist has also been involved in helping the poor for years. She became aware of the plight of the needy while working as a public health nurse, and saw continued need while working in the public-school system.
“One of the big, pressing needs was food,” Bloomquist said.
For that reason, she helped start a breakfast program at Penn Yan’s elementary school in 1966. Her concern for those in need didn’t end with the development of that program, however, and in 1985 she became coordinator of the Penn Yan Food for the Needy program, which served more than 8,000 people in 2003 alone.
“I got involved with the poor and the disadvantaged always, and it was just a natural,” Bloomquist said of her involvement with the program.