Monday, December 27, 2010

At midnight or morning, Southern Tier Christians gather to celebrate

By William Moyer • •

December 24, 2010, 3:25 pm

By simple subtraction after the diocese closed six churches since 2000, local Catholics had fewer options for Mass on Christmas Eve.

Despite the closings, mergers and other reconfigurations in a massive downsizing, however, Catholics still flocked to traditional midnight Masses on Friday in Broome County.

"We have nothing to show total attendance at midnight or others Masses on Christmas Eve has decreased since we closed churches," said Danielle Cummings, director of communications for the Syracuse diocese, which includes Broome County.

"What we've seen in recent years is Mass at different times on Christmas Eve to accommodate people's needs," added Cummings. "In some cases, the time has changed from the typical midnight Mass or parishes have added earlier Masses."

In recent years, the diocese closed St. Rita in Chenango Forks; St. Stanislaus in Dickinson; St. Joseph and St. Andrew, both in Binghamton; St. Christopher in Castle Creek; and Christ the King in Endwell.

Still, at least 11 remaining Catholic churches in Broome County held traditional midnight Masses: Sts. John & Andrew, St. Mary and St. Patrick, all in Binghamton; Our Lady of Good Counsel in West Endicott; St. Ambrose, St. Casimir and St. Joseph, all in Endicott; Holy Family in Endwell; St. James in Johnson City; Our Lady of Sorrows in Vestal; and Our Lady of Lourdes in Windsor. Mass, either at midnight or earlier, remains important to Catholics, said Cummings.

Christians in the Southern Tier and elsewhere awake today to celebrate Christmas, one of the holiest days in Catholic and Protestant churches.

Most churches observed Christ's birth with an assortment of Christmas Eve services on Friday night. Many included candle-lighting ceremonies to symbolize Christians' belief that Jesus is the "light" of the world who was born in a manger to overcome the "darkness" of sin.

Despite a overall decline in organized religion in the past two decades, Christmas remains a religiously significant observance, according to the Rev. Stephen Starzer, pastor of Conklin Presbyterian Church.

Attendance at the church's two Christmas Eve services has remained steady in recent years, said Starzer.

"You come to the end of the commercialized Christmas and ask, 'There's got to be more to it than this?'" said Starzer, who's been pastor at Conklin Presbyterian for 20 years. "Christmas Eve remains important. People come to give pause, sit, think and hear a different message about Christmas."

Not all Christians celebrate Christmas today, though. Hundreds of Orthodox Christians in the Southern Tier will observe the Feast of the Nativity on Jan. 7. Commonly known as Orthodox Christmas, the date for this celebration is set by the older Julian calendar.

Christmas came early Thursday for inmates at the Broome County Correctional Facility in Dickinson. They received gift boxes from the jail ministries program of the Broome County Council of Churches.

About 450 inmates received gift bags with cookies, chips, tissues, candy canes and other small items donated by local churches, schools and civic organizations, according to the Rev. Cris Mogenson, chaplain.

"This is reaching out to a part of our community that is forgotten a lot of the time, much more so this time of the year," added Elizabeth Hayes, jail ministry re-entry program coordinator.

A white Christmas is unlikely, according to the National Weather Service at Greater Binghamton Airport. The forecast for Christmas is cloudy with a high temperature near 30 degrees. The last significant snowfall on Christmas Day was 12.7 inches recorded on Dec. 25, 2002.

Although the actual day when Jesus was born is unknown, Christmas evolved into a Christian celebration of his birth in the centuries after his death to coincide with secular winter festivals. Christians eventually fixed Dec. 25 as the permanent date for their observance

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives at Pennsylvania State University, roughly 108,200 of Broome County's estimated population of 196,000 residents identify themselves as Christians, including mainline Protestants, Evangelicals and Catholics. In Tioga County, about 18,000 people among the estimated population of 51,000 are listed as Christians.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

11 Binghamton-area groups receive Gannett Foundation grants

Staff report • December 18, 2010, 5:20 pm

The Binghamton Philharmonic, the United Way of Broome County and Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network are among the 11 Binghamton-area groups that received Gannett Foundation grants this year.

The foundation gives grants to organizations in communities where Gannett Co. Inc. owns a daily newspaper or television station.

Binghamton-area groups received $28,700, while Elmira-area programs received $11,100 and Ithaca-area groups received $10,000.

Local grant recipients included:

* United Way of Broome County: $9,700 for its 2010 campaign

* Binghamton Philharmonic: $2,000 in support of coaching sessions with members of the Binghamton Youth Symphony
* Boys & Girls Club of Western Broome: $2,000 in support of the Triple Play health and wellness program

* Broome County Gang Prevention: $2,000 toward after-school programming at the Tabernacle Youth Center

* Broome County Council of Churches: $2,000 in support of the Youth Initiative Wheel Chair Ramp program
* Catholic Charities of Chenango: $2,000 in support of their Roots & Wings food security pilot program
* Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Tioga County: $1,000 in support of the Incredible Years Parents and Toddler Series
* Kopernik Observatory & Science Center: $2,000 in support of their pilot program to introduce economically disadvantaged preschoolers in Broome County to age-appropriate experiential learning in the physical sciences
* Metro Interfaith Housing Management Corp.: $1,500 toward replacement of the roof at 94 Henry Apartments, located on New Street in Binghamton

* Mothers & Babies Perinatal Network: $3,000 to help provide food for the Parents as Leaders Family Resource Centers' Dinner Bell and Breakfast programs

* Rescue Mission Alliance of Syracuse: $1,500 toward the purchase of furnishings and equipment for a residential facility for homeless men located at 56-58 Whitney Ave. in Binghamton.

Nonprofits interested in applying for a Gannett Foundation grant can get guidelines and an application at Applications will be reviewed twice in 2011. Deadlines for applying are Feb. 15 and Aug. 16.

Contact Jan Lesko at (607) 798-1112 with questions. Grant applications should be sent to Sherman Bodner, president and publisher, Press & Sun-Bulletin, P.O. Box 1270, Binghamton, N.Y. 13902-1270.

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Help needed to deliver toys

December 18, 2010, 10:25 pm

Binghamton The Broome County Council of Churches Jail Ministry Program needs volunteers to deliver small Christmas gifts for children of local inmates. Call (607) 724-9130 for more information or visit the Council of Churches, 3 Otseningo St., Binghamton. Packages are prepared and waiting, sorted by zip code.

Packages can be left at recipients' doors.

-- Valerie Zehl

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"Food For Fines" At Broome County Public Library

By WBNG News

December 20, 2010

Have you been a naughty library patron this year?

Well, for a limited time, you can make nice with the library and a local food pantry at the same time.

Monday, December 20 through Friday, December 31, every non-perishable food item you bring to the Broome County Public Library will get you $1 off your library fines.

All the food will go to the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse. CHOW helps 8,900 families in our community.

The "Food For Fines" program will help you knock down your fines, and also help families in need this holiday season.

For more information, you can call the library at (607) 778-6400.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Donate to CHOW, get free Frosty

December 7, 2010, 6:51 am

All area Wendy’s Restaurants are accepting non-perishable food items for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse during the month of December. With each donation (one per visit), receive a coupon for a free Frosty, said Patsy Thatcher, marketing and community relations manager for Wendy’s.

— Valerie Zehl

Letter to the Editor

Hipocrits in Power

Judith Arnold, LCSW •Reader Submitted •

December 13, 2010, 11:35 am

First, a thank you to the new editorial writers who have spoken up in compassion and pragmatism for those in our community and nation who are struggling economically. More of the electorate need to take a stand.

Contrary to the rebuttal to Prof. James Petras editorial, there is not a black and white answer to the financial quagmire we are in; it is not either this or I'll refuse that as Jonathan Stossel proclaims about collective sharing at Thanksgiving. These days everyone does not own property, in fact they are foreclosed. However, I would have the prisoners working at the CHOW garden.

The conservative political hypocrisy is particularly hard to take at this holiday season. We have a modern den of thieves in Mitch McConnell, John Boehner, Karl Rove and their Wall Street pals. What is it that the tearful, daily Mass attender John Boehner does not get about 30 years of wages that are not livable, offshore bank accounts and the rising poverty level? His neighbors are not going to achieve that American Dream he cries about as long as there are 43,000 applicants for 1,000 KIA jobs in ultra-conservative West Point, Georgia and four more textile plants that closed there last year. The identified 6,000 Southern Tier unemployed know where their bread is not buttered. That is not soft social science Mr. Siwiec. The thieves' apologist Bill O'Reilly asks, “What does a moral society owe to the have-nots?” Jesus threw the moneychangers out.

As former columnist Molly Ivins stated in Dec 2005, “The nation's leaders sure don't act like Christians; some Christians seem to me inclined to lose track of love, compassion and mercy. I don't think I have any special brief to go around judging them, but when the stink of hypocrisy becomes so foul in the nostrils it makes you start to puke, it becomes necessary to point out there is one more good reason to observe the separation of church and state: If God keeps hanging out with politicians, it's gonna hurt His reputation.”

The thieves are so tight with the wealthy plutocracy they did not ask them to anti up any percentage of tax sharing for the common good in NY or Washington in the deficit reduction plan. Nicholas Kristof(NYTimes) reports that, “from 1980-2005 more than four-fifths of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent and they are less likely to spend their tax cut or savings. Inequality leaves people on the lower rungs feeling like hamsters on a wheel spinning ever faster, without hope or me we've reached a banana republic point where our inequality has become both economically unhealthy and morally repugnant.” The American Friends Service Committee reminds us that 59% of the federal budget goes to the military.

I'm sorry Tiny Tim; as Bill Moyers states, “Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. But he's run off with all the toys.” (truthout, Nov 3)

Judith Arnold, LCSW

Friday, December 10, 2010

In Memory of Edward T Gidzinski

Edward Gidzinski age 83 passed away on Monday morning at his home. He is predeceased by one son Eddy, and his parents Jacob and Adele H. Gidzinski. He is survived by his wife of 56 years Jacqueline(Vimislik) Gidzinski of Port Crane, 1 daughter Eileen Bonham of Port Crane, three granddaughters, Shannon Bonham and George Heggie of Oxford, Stacie Bonham of Port Crane and Emma Stewart of Cenreville, Va., 1 grandson Andrew Gidzinski of Cenreville Va. and one great grandaughter Mazlynn, 1 daughter- in- law Mary Gidzinski of Cenreville Va. , 2 brothers Chester and Paul Gidzinski of Port Crane, 3 sister-in- laws, Theresa Kaminsky of Endicott, Iona and Adele Gidzinski of Port Crane; also many nieces, nephews, cousins and many good friends. Edward had worked at Binghamton University in the Maintenance Dept for 26 years having retired in 2000, prior to that he also worked at EH Titcheners for many years. He enjoyed hunting, his John Deere tractors and his polka music. Ed was one of the hardest working men you would ever find.

The family will receive friends at the Sedlock Funeral Home Inc., 161 Clinton St., Binghamton NY on Fri. evening from 4 to 7 pm. Graveside services will be private. In lieu of flowers kindly make donations to Chow, 3 Otseningo St, Binghamton N.Y. 13903

Published in Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin on December 10, 2010

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mirabito to collect food for CHOW

BINGHAMTON Mirabito Energy Products said it will host is second annual holiday gathering from 9:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Metrocenter.

The public is invited to enjoy pictures, pictures with Santa, raffles and Christmas carols at the event.

A craft station will be available for children to color pictures that will be sent to troops overseas.

The cost of admission is at least one canned food item, which will be donated to Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse.

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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

CHOW Benefit Concert - 12/4/2010

The 7th annual Chorus for CHOW Benefit was held at the Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church Saturday afternoon.

Hundreds filled the pews and listened to holiday music for an excellent cause.

The concert is held annually to raise money for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse of the Broome County Council of Churches.

CHOW's director says many people are in urgent need of food this holiday season.

"So we're really here to help people who have to face the dilemma, "Do I pay for my heat bill or do I buy food?" And so, we're able to say because of the generosity of this community, "pay your heat bill and we'll give you the food you need," said Ed Blaine, the Director of Chow.

Last year this event raised around $2,000, and the events organizers hope to match that amount this year.

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Friday, December 3, 2010

Food for Fines at the Broome County Library

From Broome County Public Library:

Do you have outstanding fees on your account at the Broome County Public Library? For a limited time, you can reduce your fines and help the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) at the same time! Between December 20 and December 31, you will receive $1.00 off your fines for each non-perishable food item that you bring to the Library. Food items will be donated to CHOW in support of their assistance programs to the 8,900 families served in our community. Help yourself and help CHOW at the same time during this holiday season. For more information, please call the Library at 607-778-6400.

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chorus concert to benefit CHOW

December 2, 2010, 12:00 am
The seventh annual Choruses for CHOW benefit concert will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Sarah Jane Johnson Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 380 Main St. in Johnson City.

The event, which raises money for the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, will feature the Southerntiersmen Barbershop Chorus, the Binghamton Downtown Singers, the Bronzissimo! Bell Choir, the Carousel Harmony Chorus, Young Women in Harmony Chorus and the Endwell Community Chorus.

The concert is sponsored by the Southerntiersmen. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. Purchase tickets by calling the Broome County Council of Churches at 724-9130 or by contacting a chorus member.

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Soldier in war on hunger devotes self to community service

By Valerie Zehl • • December 1, 2010, 6:50 pm

Volunteers Mary Ellen Wynnyk and Mary Kelly flank 'Kathy Pfaff' at the Main St. food pantry on Wednesday. The waiting room was full, with standing room only. (VALERIE ZEHL/Staff Photo)
Just call her Kathy Pfaff.

She mimes surprise when somebody actually spells her name right -- and with an 11-letter name that includes three f's, maybe she should be astonished.

Not much else surprises her these days, though. Kathleen Pfaffenbach, of Binghamton, has been on the front lines of the fight against local hunger for decades. Working for Catholic Charities as emergency services coordinator is a position she says is not a job, but a calling.

In the corporate world, she and Ed Blaine would be competitors, jockeying for the opportunity to rack up customer numbers.

But in the world of social service, she and Blaine, who's employed by the Broome County Council of Churches and runs the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse, attend mass together every morning at St. James Church and work shoulder-to shoulder as fellow soldiers in the same war.

"She doesn't just provide food for her clients, she really cares how they're doing," Blaine said. "She knows them on a first-name basis and checks on them from time to time. It's not just a job for her, it's a real service she does, a real ministry."

Now that she and husband Dan, 59, have launched four children into the adult world (all six of them Seton graduates), their own galaxy pretty much revolves around service.

Not that she's a saint herself, though many might argue. Just ask Dan, who has been married to her almost 40 years.

"When I vacuum, I can line her shoes up on the stairs by pairs, and they just about reach to the second floor," he said.

OK, she's bad about putting away her shoes, she admitted.

"And I'm obsessive," she said. "Things have to be done my way."

Bill Wynnyk, of Binghamton, who has volunteered at her side the last 18 years, nodded his head as he listened nearby.

"She says 'jump,' and I ask how high," he said -- but then made it clear he's joking.

Dan, now retired from his own trucking business, is one of the 100 or so volunteers who pitch in at the food pantry at 100 Main St. in Binghamton or Mother Teresa's Cupboard on Garfield Avenue in Endicott, the only two local pantries run by Catholic Charities and coordinated by his wife.

Her office is tucked in to a pocket of the Main Street site, though she's not often sitting in her chair.

On Tuesday, she manned a table at a community resource fair, talking to all comers about ways Catholic Charities can help them.

Anthony Esposito, a student teacher working on his master's degree at Binghamton University, donated time through Catholic Charities in his hometown in Westchester County.

"We need you here, too," Pfaffenbach told him. "We have many ways you can volunteer."

He walked away with a brochure.

She usually finds herself talking to those who need help rather than those eager to give it."We make sure they're receiving food stamps, the elderly, especially, who are so reluctant," she said. "If there's a referral we can make, we do."

She goes as far as making WIC appointments for those with young children. She's a registered nurse and could work in a doctor's office or hospital. Instead she chooses to pursue this calling.

"The poor will be with you always," she reminds herself on a hard day. Then she reminds herself of another vital fact: She's no miracle worker.

She's just Kathy Pfaff.

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