Over the last ten years, Jack has been honored to receive a number of awards, as he this year celebrates 45 years of association with Catholic Charities in New York State.

New York State Bishops Award

In  March, 2007, the State Bishops presented Jack with a plaque recognizing his contributions to the Charities in the State in recognition of the six volume history of the State Catholic Conference which he had written.

Catholic Charities USA (Centennial Medal, September 2010)

At the September, 2010 Rochester Catholic Charities All Boards Convening, Keynote Speaker Father Larry Snyder, President of Catholic Charities USA, presented Jack with the CCUSA Centennial Medal.  In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the organization, this medal presented to 100 individuals or organizations who had made significant contributions to its evolution.

New York State Catholic Conference J. Alan Davitt Award for Exemplary Service, March 2011

In March, 2011, as part of the mass celebrated at the Albany Cathedral on the annual Public Policy Day, Jack was presented the J. Alan Davitt Award for Exemplary Service.  For more than 30 years.  Mr. Davitt was an outstanding staff leader of the Catholic Conference.  Following are remarks made by Bishop Hubbard of Albany, Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, and Jack’s remarks on accepting the award.

Bishop Hubbard Remarks

I am grateful to be asked to help present the J. Alan Davitt Award for Exemplary Service to a most worthy recipient and a cherished friend.  For well over 30 years, I have had the privilege of serving as chairman of the Public Policy Committee of the New York State Catholic Conference.  And for nearly all of that time, Jack Balinsky has been seated at that table.  Usually in the very same seat as a matter of fact!  Through the decades, whether he was representing Catholic Charities of Syracuse in the early days, Catholic Charities of Rochester, as he does currently, or as a staff member of the New York State Catholic Conference under Alan Davitt before that, Jack has always been consistent, not only in his choice of seating, but in the level of his insight, his photographic institutional memory, his care and compassion, and his fidelity to the teachings of the Church.

We live in a political world, and we often try to label people in political terms, even within our own Church.  But the Church is not a political entity, even if we are called to be active in the public square.  We Catholics may be Democrats.  We may be Republicans.  We may be Tea Party members, but we are all called to defend human life, to protect the poor and vulnerable, to fight for justice for immigrants and laborers, to show mercy for the imprisoned, to speak the truth about God’s plan in relation to human sexuality, to defend the right of parents as the primary educators of their children.  No one in our state has been a more forceful proponent of this consistent ethic of life than the man we honor today.

I am grateful for his years of counsel and friendship and for his tireless work as part of the Catholic Conference on behalf of the voiceless.  There is another great service that Jack has provided to the Church in New York State.  For the last several years, Jack has taken on a project in his “spare time” that would have overwhelmed most people doing it as a full time job.  He has compiled a six-volume comprehensive history of the New York State Catholic Conference, which he has posted online to serve as an invaluable resource and archive for the entire state.  And he has since produced three additional historical volumes on Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester.  We thank Jack so very much for this invaluable treasure.

And speaking of the Diocese of Rochester, Bishop Matthew Clark was scheduled to tell you a bit about Jack’s “day job” there and to present him with this well-earned award.

Unfortunately, Bishop Clark was in an auto accident yesterday, and while not injured, is unable to be with us today.  He has, however, asked me to share his comments with you which I am most happy to do.

Remarks for Bishop Clark

I am thrilled to be able to present with Bishop Hubbard this most deserving honor to Jack Balinsky.  Jack, you have not only been the catalyst behind the remarkable growth of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester these many years, but a good and cherished friend.

I am so proud of you and proud of the work you have been able to accomplish.

Since you became diocesan director in 1992, the breadth and scope of Catholic Charities has increased exponentially.  Thanks to your vision and energy, we now serve more than 250,000 people a year of all walks of life.  From a few scattered agencies we now can offer services in all areas of the diocese in such areas as home-purchase assistance; senior services; emergency services for food, clothing and housing; help for the homeless; assistance to developmentally disabled people; help for people with mental illness; migrant-family assistance; and help with addiction, among many other services.

You truly have made this your life’s work and mission, and this has meant life-changing help for those who need it most.  I was delighted when you were honored last year, on the 100th anniversary of Catholic Charities, with a Centennial Medal from Catholic Charities USA – and I am very happy to help bestow on you today J. Alan Davitt Award for Exemplary Service from the New York State Bishops – for you truly exemplify the word “service” and you honor the name “Christian.”

Thank you, Jack and may God continue to bless your work!

Jack’s Remarks

It is humbling to be chosen for an award named for Alan Davitt, who was not only a friend but an outstanding human being, quintessential Catholic lay leader, and servant of the church.

It is humbling to join an elite group of winners of this award, including three people who have been my mentors over the years:  Bishop Tom Costello, Bishop Joe Sullivan and Sister Maureen Joyce (Little known fact:  Sister Maureen and I started our careers in Catholic Charities on the same day – September 1, 1971, she in the Diocese of Albany and I in the Syracuse Diocese).

It is especially humbling to have the award presented by my all-time heroes Bishops Hubbard and Clark, who have inspired me with their visionary leadership and provided me rock solid support.

It has been an honor and privilege to work with those I have mentioned, other mentors like Monsignor Fahey from Syracuse, Monsignor Fagan from Rochelle Centre, Sister Serena from Albany, key Catholic Charities leaders from around the country like Tom Mullen from Cleveland, Jim Mauch from Denver, and Hal Smith from Baltimore, as well as four national directors of Catholic Charities USA.

It is an honor and privilege to work with the Council of Catholic Charities Directors; the Diocesan Directors from around the state, who are all outstanding leaders in their own right, and their key staff.

It is an honor and privilege to work with the dedicated volunteers and staff in the Diocese of Rochester, who are so committed to serving those in need in our Diocese.

Archbishop Dolan elaborated eloquently on our Gospel passage today from Matthew 25 on how our faith demands that we serve the poor, the vulnerable, the isolated and the stranger.  An important  vehicle through which the institutional Church does this is Catholic Charities.

I am proud to be part of a national Catholic Charities network which serves 10 million people each year, employs over 60,000 persons, utilizes the services of 275,000 volunteers, and with an annual budget of over $4 billion, is the largest not-for-profit human service network in the country.  In New York State last year, Catholic Charities agencies served 1.5 million persons.

But numbers are not what is most important.  Most important is each individual in whom we see the face of Christ, and with whom we carry out the commandment to love our neighbor.

I close on a personal note.  For me, yes work at Catholic Charities is a job, but I also view it as a vocation and a way of life.  I consider my colleagues in Catholic Charities here today and around the country to be my family.  For that, I am grateful to you.  I am grateful to God for giving me you and the many opportunities I have had over the years.

Catholic Charities of Rochester, Bishop Clark Award, September 2012

At the September, 2012 Rochester Catholic Charities Diocesan Board meeting, Board Chairperson Linda Stundtner presented Jack the Bishop Clark Award.  This award, recognizing outstanding service to Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester, was established in 1999 when the Board presented it to Bishop Matthew Clark in recognition of his long and consistent support of Catholic Charities.  This award was given to Jack in celebration of his twentieth anniversary as Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities.

Linda Studner’s Remarks

This is Jack Balinsky’s mantra – Here I am, Lord.  This is stated in his recollection of his forty years of service and exemplifies the mission of Catholic Charities and his life.

Jack has led the efforts in both the Syracuse and Rochester dioceses.  He has helped to expand the organization by conveying the message that it is necessary to encourage those in the pews to follow the gospel message to love our neighbors through advocacy and service.  Through his efforts and connections with those who know him and have the means to make change, he has helped to grow the decentralized structure of Catholic Charitie into a stronger organization where the needs of each agency are met.

Jack’s life is Catholic Charities.  He has made sure that those who have served and provided leadership for the past one hundred years are remembered in his chronicles of the organization.  In doing so he also gives the reader an excellent insight into what he has accomplished.  His standards are high, and he effectively gets others to step outside the box so that Catholic Charities is instrumental in following its mission.

Finally, it is hard to imagine Catholic Charities without Jack Balinsky.  Hopefully, he will continue to be a strong leader as his shoes will be difficult to fill.  He entitles his work on the remembrances of his family “On the Shoulders of Giants”.  Well, Jack, the history of your leadership and accomplishments should be entitled “On the Shoulders of a Giant.”

Congratulations, Jack, upon the receipt of the Bishop Matthew H. Clark Award.

State Council of Catholic Charities Directors Bishop Mugavero Award, March, 2013

At the State Council of Catholic Charities Statewide Annual Convening held in March, 2013, Jack was presented the Bishop Francis J. Mugavero Award.  The award had been established in 1989 when it was presented to Bishop Mugavero upon his retirement as Bishop of Brooklyn.  As Brooklyn Diocesan Director of Catholic Charities, Bishop Mugavero had been instrumental in the establishment of the State Council in 1966.  The award thereafter was presented annually to an individual who had made a significant contribution to the work of the State Council.

Catholic Charities of Livingston County Father Trott Award, December, 2016

At the annual Catholic Charities of Livingston County Red Carpet Christmas Gala, Board Chairperson Jeff Fasoldt and long-time Livingston County Charities supporter Mary Anne Palermo presented Jack the Father Bill Trott Award.  As pastor in Livonia in the early 1990’s,  Father Trott was instrumental in helping establish Catholic Charities in Livingston County.  A saintly priest who had a special care for the poor and vulnerable, he died suddenly in 1996, and beginning in 1997, Catholic Charities established this award to be given annually to an individual or individuals who had made significant contributions to the agency.

Included here are an excerpt from Jeff Fasoldt’s letter informing Jack that he had been selected for the award, Mary Anne’s presentation of the award and Jack’s remarks upon accepting the award.

Jeff Fasoldt’s Letter

Anyone that knows you, Jack, sees you as a selfless person and a great reformer.  You have been witnessed as someone who works hard for the destitute, the needy, and the poor.  You really have been a beacon of light for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester and all of its branches.  You have worked tirelessly for several decades and proved that social change can happen for the betterment of society.

Mary Anne Palermo’s Remarks

Fr. Bill Trott was the saintly pastor of St. Joseph’s Church, Livonia (now St. Matthew), known throughout the area for his lifelong advocacy and commitment for the poor, homeless, and those addicted. He literally gave the coat off his back to a homeless man in 2 instances that I know of.  In 1997, CCLC instituted the Fr. Trott Community Services Award in his memory to a person who exemplifies by word and deed the values and commitment of Fr. Trott.

The 2016 honoree is Mr. Jack Balinsky. Jack has devoted his professional life to promoting charity and social justice.  When appointed Director of Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Rochester in 1992, 24 years ago, CC consisted of 3 scattered agencies. Jack expanded CC to 10 agencies throughout the 12 counties of the diocese, Jack being a strong believer in the doctrine of “subsidiarity:” services are best delivered at the lowest level possible because local agencies know their people and can best serve their needs. A typical day for Jack might find him at a meeting of Catholic Family Center in Rochester, on to Elmira to the Food Bank, and ending up at the eastern end of the diocese at Wayne County CC.

Jack has worked tirelessly to improve conditions for both urban and rural poor by meeting with NYS’s bishops and both county and state legislators, quite effectively, always in accordance with the highest Catholic principles.  In 2011, he was honored with a special LEGISLATIVE RESOLUTION, calling him “a true asset to society” meriting the respect and recognition of the NYS Legislature.

*Bishop Clark has said of Jack: You exemplify the word SERVICE and honor the name CHRISTIAN. It is my great honor to present the 2016 Fr. Trott Community Services Award to Mr. Jack Balinsky.

Jack’s Remarks

Thank you all for being here tonight and for all that you do for Catholic Charities of Livingston County.  I am humbled and honored to be chosen for this award, but I accept it on behalf of the entire Catholic Charities of Livingston County family.  We are are here this evening because of you.

We would not be here tonight, if Sr. Nancy O’Brien RSM, Father Jim Hewes and Wes Kennisan had not had the vision and commitment to start the Rural Outreach program in 1992.

We would not be here tonight if Sister of Mercy René McNuff RSM, then Chairperson of the Diocesan Board, was not a strong advocate for broadening the presence of Catholic Charities in the Diocese.  (Ten days before I officially started, June 20, 1992, I was summoned to a meeting with Sister René. Reminiscent of the stereotype of the stern Catholic School teacher, she told me in no uncertain terms: “Jack you and that Tony Barbaro (Director of Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier) need to know that there is more to the Diocese than Rochester, Elmira and Geneva.”  This directive led to the creation in 1993 of the so-called Steuben/Livingston Project Committee of the Diocesan Board.)

We would not be here tonight if it were not for the commitment of the wonderful Father Trott who we remember tonight, Father Dan Condon and Father Bill Gardinier to garner rock solid support from all the Livingston County Catholic parishes for the creation of Catholic Charities of Livingston County.

We would not be here tonight if it were not for the commitment of lay leaders like Joe Kane, Bill Derby, Jim Dollard and Mabel Treadwell, who formed the nucleus of the newly created Board of Catholic Charities of Livingston County.  In her gracious introduction of me, Mary Anne Palermo repeated the importance to our work of the concept of subsidiarity:  local leadership, local direction by those in the community, as the driving force in finding ways to respond to local needs.

We would not be here tonight if not for the leadership of Tim McMahon (who is not here tonight because he is officiating a wedding in Nicaragua), who was hired as Executive Director in 1996 and did outstanding work in fostering growth of the nascent agency.  His work and those of his colleagues have had great influence on the evolution of Catholic Charities in the Diocese.  The establishment resolution passed by the Diocesan Board in September, 1995, stated that the creation of the agency was for the purpose of better serving those in need in Livingston County but also to serve as a demonstration model about the feasibility of creating other County-based agencies.  The great success of this work gave the Diocesan Board confidence to create other county-based agencies as Mary Anne mentioned.)

We would not be here tonight if Tim and the Board were not able to engender support from and develop partnerships with Livingston County government.  County administrators Nick Mazza and Ian Coyle have been strong supporters of Catholic Charities.  In her inspiring remarks earlier, Tabitha mentioned by name the Department leaders with whom we continue to work with closely.

We would not be here tonight if volunteer leaders like Mary Anne Palermo, then Board Chairperson and who also served as the Chair of the Search Committee, and Norma Reidman, among others, oversaw the successful transition of leadership of the agency from Tim to Joe Dimino in 2004, providing and soliciting much needed financial support.

We would not be here tonight if the next generation of Board leaders, particularly Art Hatton and Tom Baldwin, didn’t step up and respond decisively when the agency hit a rough spot after Joe’s departure in 2011.

I would not be here tonight if it were not for the leadership of Art, Tom and other Board members, and the commitment, competence and mission-driven compassion of staff for our clients.  When I told Tim McMahon that I had agreed in October, 2011 to serve as Interim Executive Director, he was surprised, reminding me that I had consistently told him over the years that I planned to retire in June, 2012, when Bishop Clark would retire on reaching his 75th birthday.  It was the joy of working with the dedicated staff that gave me a renewed sense of energy and commitment, and it is because of them that I am still with Catholic Charities today.

Finally, we would not be here, here tonight without the infusion of new Board members, including a number of younger leaders, who have taken over and provided a new sense of energy to our work.  I know I will forget some names, and I apologize, but I’m thinking of folks like Renee Kleinhans, Jen Perelli, Deb Farberman, Pam Rychlicki, Mike Dougherty, Jeff Fasoldt, and Andy Kubrick.  It is particulary the younger group who conceptualized this highly successful Red Carpet Christmas gala, which is becoming the agency’s “signature event” and which symbolizes the agency’s new leadership and energy.

So it is all of you who are joined with me in honoring Father Trott in accepting this award.  Through the remarkable leadership of Tabitha, as you saw demonstrated earlier, and the continuing outstanding work of the agency, the agency is stronger now than it has ever been.  I hope you join me in being proud as we respond so effectively to the Gospel call to love and serve our neighbor.


Catholic Charities Community Services Heart and Soul Award March 2, 2018

Click here to view Bishop Clark's remarks

Click here to view Jack's Acceptance Speech

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