When visiting the Southern Tier I like to make the most of my day, which may explain how I totaled 352 miles with five stops in three counties on March 4.
I started with 9 a.m. Mass at St. James Church in Trumansburg. Then it was off to Ithaca to meet with Mary Camobreco and her volunteers from the local Birthright — which Mary founded nearly 30 years ago — for a feature that will run in May. With the storytelling abilities of Mary, I could have listened all day.
In Elmira I caught up with Denis Sweeney, head of marketing and community development at St. Joseph’s Hospital. We lunched in the hospital’s dining facility and discussed recent developments of note at the hospital and Denis’ home parish of All Saints in Corning/Painted Post.
Then I managed to turn a five-minute drive into an unplanned 30-minute tour of Elmira’s side streets upon discovering that Oakwood Avenue is definitely not the same as Upper Oakwood Avenue, the new location for Food Bank of the Southern Tier. Kudos to the receptionist for guiding me in, and to Natasha Thompson, president/CEO, for being so gracious despite my tardiness. Natasha gave a wonderful tour — wow, the place is huge — and interview for our planned April feature.
My last stop was in Owego with Sister Phyllis McGuire, RSM, director of Tioga County Rural Ministry, for another April story. She talked about her very interesting life, as well as ongoing challenges related to poverty in her region.
On the drive back to Rochester, it occurred to me that Mary, Denis, Natasha and Sister McGuire are all dedicated in some way to helping people in great need. How much money do they make? Somehow, the question didn’t seem important.