Catholic Charities to Recognize Community Champions at 2021 Celebration of Charity Event

Virtual Celebration on April 15 will Recognize 21 Community Members Who Provided Help and Created Hope for Those in Need During Pandemic
Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster’s 15th annual Celebration of Charity will pay tribute to 21 community members from throughout Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties, whose professional and volunteer contributions during the pandemic fulfilled the agency’s mission to provide help and create hope. Dubbed “Charities’ Community Champions,” the honorees were selected from nominations made by community members. Catholic Charities will recognize the Community Champions at its annual Celebration of Charity, which will be held virtually on Thursday, April 15 at 7 pm.

The Charities’ Community Champions represent a variety of occupations and organizations from throughout Catholic Charities’ three-county service area. The honorees are:

Orange County

– Rosanne Gesztesi – Garnet Health, Respiratory Therapist
– Jennifer Grismer – Port Jervis HS, Social Worker
– Cynthia James – Comfort Children Ministry, Executive Director
– Colin Jarvis – Newburgh Ministry, Executive Director
– Jason Knudsen – ShopRite Montgomery, Manager
– Sarah Lyons – Valley View, Certified Nursing Assistant
– Beth Maas – Florida Food Pantry, Director
– Michele McKeon – RECAP, COO
– Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega – Dr. Michele Winchester-Vega & Associates, Social Worker
– Erika Cox, RN, ICU Department, Bon Secours Community Hospital

Sullivan County

– George Billard – Barryville Farmers Market, Treasurer/Volunteer
– Amanda Langseder – Sullivan 180, Executive Director
– Anastasija Ocheretina – A Single Bite, Program Manager
– Vanessa Petrossian – Cornell Coop Extension, Ag Program Manager
– Elaine Williams – NAACP Sullivan County, Secretary

Ulster County

– Chief Kyle Berardi – Town of Ulster Police Chief
– Shelly Forster – Kingston Emergency Food Collaborative
– Michael Green – Health Alliance HV, Registered Nurse
– Ann Mattracion – Ellenville Elementary, Kindergarten Teacher
– Steve Peterson – Ulster County Emergency Services, Director (retired)


–  National Guard Counter Drug Task Force

“The challenges of the past year were made easier by the way our community came together to lend a helping hand to our neighbors who were struggling. Essential workers from diverse businesses and all walks of life embodied Catholic Charities’ mission to provide help and create hope in order to keep our world turning,” said Shannon Kelly, Deputy CEO, Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster. “We look forward to recognizing our 21 Charities’ Community Champions and honoring all essential workers at our 15th annual Celebration of Charity event. The spirit of community displayed over the past year has been incredible.”

Each of the 21 Charities’ Community Champions will be featured during the agency’s virtual Celebration which will be held Thursday, April 15. The link to join in will be available through Catholic Charities’ website and on its Facebook page at @CatholicCharitiesOSU closer to the date.

Traditionally, the Celebration of Charity is Catholic Charities’ largest fundraising event of the year supporting its programs in the community, including emergency food and shelter assistance. These programs have experienced a tremendous increase in demand over the past year. In 2020, the not-for-profit agency distributed 167,000 meals and more than $333,000 in direct client assistance.

To help raise much-needed funds to maintain these critically important programs, businesses, organizations, and community members are invited to show their support of Catholic Charities and extend their congratulations and appreciation to the Community Champions by joining the Celebration as an event sponsor, advertiser in the digital journal, or donor.

“We are grateful for the many contributions of our Charities’ Community Champions,” said Kristin Jensen, Chief Advancement Officer. “We invite the community to join us in saying ‘thank you’ and congratulating them on all they’ve done to lend a helping hand. A variety of recognition options are available – something for every budget – and the funds raised stay local so Catholic Charities may continue to help our neighbors in need,” added Jensen.

To join the Celebration festivities, contact or 845.294.5124, x1005. Event details are also available at

Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster has remained open throughout the pandemic to assist those in need of care, hope, and help. Programs include a full continuum of support for individuals suffering from the disease of addiction, as well as prevention and education for youth and adults. Emergency food and shelter assistance, and other case management support has helped those struggling with food and housing insecurity, and Christmas giving programs made for happier holidays for more than 1,000 children. A complete list of programs is available at Catholic Charities provides assistance to those in need regardless of religion or ability to pay.