Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes honored 10 people with its Sharing the Light Award during a June 7 dinner and ceremony held at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva.
The agency presents the Sharing the Light Award each year to local residents who have dedicated their time and energy toward improving their communities. This year the honor was given to MaryAnn VanCleef Bender, Cayuga County Sheriff Dave Gould, Barbara M. Pinckney and Joe and Marie Laquitara, as well as Chris, Lisa, Ryan, Maren and Eily Hubler. The award is named after a Scripture passage that encourages individuals to share their talents with others, according to Ellen Wayne, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes.
"This year’s honorees represent people of all ages who set an example of giving and doing. They are perfect models of Sharing the Light," Wayne said. "This year’s celebration coincides with the 30th anniversary of Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, and we can think of no better way to celebrate than to recognize the efforts of individuals in our community."
A native of the Finger Lakes region, Bender is a longtime teacher at St. Francis-St. Stephen School in Geneva and an active parishioner at St. Patrick Parish in Seneca Falls, which is clustered with St. Mary Parish in Waterloo. Before becoming a teacher Bender earned her bachelor’s degree in history and master’s degree in education at Nazareth College in Pittsford. She taught at Blessed Trinity School in Auburn for four years before coming to St. Francis-St. Stephen in 1979. She teaches religion and social studies at the school, and has encouraged her students to work with the Geneva Community Lunch Program and volunteer in their communities.
An associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, Bender has been very involved in social ministry at St. Patrick and St. Mary, especially in the parishes’ Nicaragua Project, through which donated clothes, food and household items are sent to needy people in Nicaragua.
Gould already had been serving his fellow residents in the Finger Lakes region for quite a few years by the time he was elected sheriff of Cayuga County in 2006. He grew up in Union Springs and attended Auburn Community College before serving in the U.S. Army from 1967-70. Gould then became a New York State trooper, and over the course of his 34 years as a trooper he served as a senior investigator and hostage negotiator. He left the state police in 2004 and spent some time as a special investigator for the Seneca County District Attorney before being elected to his first four-year term as Cayuga County Sheriff in 2006. He was re-elected in 2010.
Gould has been active in many organizations and institutions, including the American Cancer Society, the Boy Scouts of America, Tyburn Academy, Cayuga County Salvation Army and the Kiwanis Club of Auburn. He and his wife, Suzanne, chaired the United Way of Cayuga County’s 2011 fundraising campaign, which surpassed its goal. He also raised funds for and serves on the board of the new Cayuga County Child Advocacy Center, which assists child victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse and assault.
Pinckney’s father was in the British Army, so she grew up in Pakistan, Scotland and England. She came to the United States in 1958 to marry her first husband, U.S. serviceman James O. Dean, who had been stationed in Europe. They settled in Penn Yan, where she worked at the Chronicle-Express newspaper, Keuka College and Penn Yan Academy. She has volunteered with a number of local organizations, including the Yates County chapter of the American Cancer Society, the American Red Cross and the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital Auxiliary, and has served on the board of the Yates Performing Arts Series, the Yates County Arts Council and St. Mark’s Terrace Senior Housing.
Pinckney volunteered at Penn Yan’s Methodist church with her first husband, and later at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, also in Penn Yan, with her second husband, Robert B. Pinckney. She has served on the Episcopal Diocesan Council and is currently involved in a variety of ministries at St. Mark.
Joe and Marie Laquitara received the Sharing the Light Award just two months before Joe Laquitara passed away on Aug. 6. The couple had been married for 55 years. Joe Laquitara grew up in Geneva and worked as an operating engineer for 35 years. During World War II he served in the Reconnaissance Company 633rd Tank Destroyer Battalion in the Third Army under General George Patton in the European Theater. He later was a member of the American Legion Post 832, as well as an honorary lifetime member of the Border City Fire Company. Marie Laquitara, who grew up in Newark, worked for 29 years as a senior clerk in the city of Geneva’s finance department. She was a charter member and manager of the City of Geneva Federal Credit Union and is a member of the American Legion Women’s Auxiliary.
The Laquitaras were longtime members of Our Lady of Peace Parish in Geneva, where they were active in a number of ministries. Joe Laquitara was an extraordinary minister of holy Communion for 21 years and a funeral altar server for 12 years. Marie Laquitara served on the parish’s pastoral council, finance committee and Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults team and is a past president of the Our Lady of Peace Rosary Society. She also served as a lector for 20 years and taught religious education.
Chris and Lisa Hubler met at Niagara University, where they each earned bachelor’s degrees. After they were married they lived in Rush-Henrietta until 2008, when Chris Hubler became a partner in the CIG Insurance Agency and the family moved to Canandaigua. At that time two of the couple’s children, Ryan and Maren, transferred from St. Agnes School in Avon to St. Mary School in Canandaigua, where this year Ryan will be in seventh grade and Maren will be in fifth grade. Their youngest child, Eily, will be starting kindergarten.
Chris Hubler is an active member of the Rotary Club and Merrill Hose Fire Company and has coached his children’s baseball and basketball teams. Lisa Hubler works from home running Your Business and Leisure Connection, the event and meeting-planning business she owns with her mother. She also has been an active member of the school boards at both St. Agnes and St. Mary and is homeroom parent for Ryan and Maren’s classrooms.
Each year Ryan donates his birthday presents to F.F. Thompson Hospital, while Maren donates her gifts to Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, and Eily is looking forward to doing something similar when she gets a little older.