Thursday, April 16, 2015

Southington Knights of Columbus honor four Catholic Citizens of the Year

Four Southington residents will be honored by the Knights of Columbus Assembly 122 in recognition of their many years of service to their parish and community. A dinner will be held at the Back Nine Tavern in Plantsville at 7:00 pm on Saturday, May 9, 2015. The Catholic Citizens award will be presented to Carmel Avitable, St. Thomas Parish;  Walter Hushak, St. Aloysius; Michael Soltys, St. Dominic and Robin Taillie, Mary Our Queen. Reservations, at $25 p/p, may be made by contacting event coordinator, Phil Mazzati at 203-395-4381 or    

The recognition of Catholic Citizens who have given years of service to their faith community as well as to their extended community is an expression of the gratitude of the entire community for the dedication of these special people.  The Catholic Citizen event is but one of many ways the fourth degree Knights of Columbus express and carryout their special pledge to patriotism.  

Carmel Avitable
Carmel Avitable's family have been parishioners of St.Thomas parish residents of Southington since 1880. That’s 125 years! Carmel says, “My earliest recollection of volunteering in the parish was that of teaching religion as an early teen to a number of well known residents who became active in our town. I have been a trustee, school board chairperson, a member of the Ladies Guild, a Eucharistic Minister and a Lecturer for many years.” Carmel has been an active member of the Dominican Associates of Peace, affiliated with Albertus Magnus College, with twenty two active associates in our parish. She has served on the Ecumenical Council of the Dominican Community in Columbus, Ohio .During the past seven years, she has taught eighth grade Religious Ed at St.Aloysius parish. Since 1982, she has been the facilitator of the Archdiocesan "New Day" program for those who have lost a loved one in death. Two sessions are held yearly at Mary Our Queen Parish. Carmel takes pride in serving her parish and community and volunteering to help others whenever needed.

Walter Hushak
Walter Hushak is a lifelong resident of Southington. Graduate of Lewis High School 1941 enlisted in the US army air corps in December 1942.  Completed army air corps pilot training and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant, received pilots wings at age 20. Assigned to a B-24 liberator bomber crew of 10 men, 7th air force 30th bomb group. Central pacific Saipan Mariana Islands. Flew bombing missions to Pagan Marcus Island and Iwo jima.  Awarded air medal for bombing mission. After active duty, served in air force reserve  27 years retiring with the rank of Lieutenant colonel. Joined Peck, Stow and Wilcox which was a Southington Tool and machinery manufacturer and held the position of personnel manager and eventually became vice president. Later he joined Janazzo Heating & Air Conditioning located in Milldale for 27 years retiring as vice president. Walt married Ruth Stephens at R.N. in 1951. They have 3 children, Mark, Maureen, Dana and 5 grandchildren.  Walt’s activities in Southington include the following: Director of Southington Savings Bank and Board Chairman; Director of Southington Chamber of Commerce, and served two terms on the council; Director of Southington YMCA; Member of Bradley Memorial Board; President of the Rotary Club of Southington;  member of the American Legion Kiltonic Post 72; Trustee of St. Aloysius Church;  Member of Southington ethics committee; Chairman of the Red Cross Home service;  organizer of the Red Cross Industrial Blood Donor Program; 24 year coordinator for Collings Foundation of Stow Massachusetts of World War II - restored aircraft such as the B-24 Liberator Bomber, B-17 Flying Fortress & P-51 Mustang that visited Waterbury/Oxford Airport. Hushak said: “I still do speaking engagements at area schools talking about my World War II duties. Awards I received are Distinguished Service Award, (D.S.A.), by the Southington Jaycees, Good Scout award by Connecticut Yankee Council, Boy Scouts of America, Gold Medal Community Service by Unico Club, the wisdom award by Central Connecticut Senior Health Services, the Paul Harris Fellow Award by Rotary Club, The St. Joseph Archdiocesan Medal of appreciation award presented by the Archbishop of Hartford and the 2014 YMCA Compass Award for service to young folks.

Michael Soltys
Mike and his wife Teresa, are both active members of St. Dominic Church. Mike has been a lector for years at Sunday and special masses and coordinates the St. Dominic Nourishes program feeding the local hungry. His years of service to the parish are highlighted by eight years as a Confirmation mentor, service on the Parish Council, including as Vice President. A current major local service commitment is to Bread for Life, where he serves as Board Chairman, now at an exciting point with plans proceeding to build a facility in Southington. Mike is an advisor for Youth Journalism International and a mentor for UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His family recently launched an endowed scholarship at UConn which awards an annual scholarship to a student pursuing Sports Information. Local community service has included a central role in the opening and first decade of the Imagine Nation Children’s Museum in Bristol, Board member of the Southington Chamber of Commerce, coaching Southington youth sports, including 11 years basketball, and on a sports information Advisory Board at the University of Hartford, where he earned his Master’s Degree in 1994. Mike’s awards include Media Relations Professional of the Year in 2005 by PR News, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association’s 2008 Katha Quinn Award for service,  the 2011 Southington Chamber of  Commerce Gail DePaolo Community Spirit Award and, along with Teresa, the 2013 Compass Award from the Southington YMCA. As a senior at UConn in 1980 Mike was the first intern hired by ESPN. He earned his bachelor’s in communications in 1981, magna cum laude and has spent his entire professional career with ESPN where he has since 2003 served as Vice President, Communications. Mike has played major role in the remarkable communications and public relations achievements of  ESPN.  Teresa and Mike are most proud of their four children:  Katie, a science teacher at JFK school; Sean, a Product Specialist at NBC in NYC: Christie graduates from UConn this year and will pursue a master’s in social work; and Jason, a junior at Southington H.S. 

Robin Taillie
Robin Taillie has been a resident of Southington for the past 20 years, having moved here from Waterbury with her husband John, and their three young children. While raising their children, Robin’s career in accounting, development and admissions was offset with various volunteering for both civic and Catholic school organizations. Robin served on the board for Southington South Youth Athletic Association (SSYAA) as secretary, and managed the concession stand at Recreation Park Baseball field for 7 years. While her children attended St. Bridget School in Cheshire, she served on the Home and School Association Board as Secretary, Treasurer, and Special Projects Chairperson. When the opportunity arose, Robin began the Development/Advancement Department at the school and helped increase the enrollment of students to more than 400 children for the Pre-K to 8th grade elementary school. Robin received the H.O.P.E.S. (Help Our Parish Elementary Schools) award for her work at St. Bridget School from the Archdiocese of Hartford.  Robin served on the school board of Xavier High School in Middletown for three years, two years as the chairperson for the Advancement Committee, and later served on the Capital Campaign Cabinet for the $8 million building campaign.  Robin is a parishioner at Mary Our Queen Church. She completed the RCIA program in 1999, and has held several positions for various ministries of the church. Robin has taught CCD and Confirmation classes, has served as a lector and greeter, served on the Pastoral Council, chaired the 50th anniversary celebration committee, serves on the scholarship committee, is a member of the knitting ministry, with the help of the youth ministry, organized the Drive-thru Living Nativity for 8 years and currently serves as the President of Our Lady’s Guild. Robin has been a volunteer for Southington Community Services since 2007 and gives 8-10 hours weekly. As a representative of SCS, she has organized many of the holiday programs at Mary Our Queen which benefit our Southington residents. Robin strongly believes in giving back and utilizing God given talents to the best of her ability.

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