By Allyson Escobar
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio and Catholic Charities Brooklyn & Queens hosted on June 19 the agency’s annual humanitarian awards and benefit dinner, a fundraiser held this year at Cipriani Wall Street in Manhattan.
The event raised $1.3 million for the diocesan branch of Catholic Charities, which is the second-largest chapter of Catholic Charities in the country. The dinner benefits the more than 160 programs and services that Catholic Charities Brooklyn & Queens offers.
“Catholic Charities is the charitable arm of the diocese,” Bishop DiMarzio told The Tablet.
“We are called to do charity as a Church, and they make sure that in all of the areas that they work — in housing, mental health, in drug addictions — all of the issues that are part of our society, we are there, doing something. And that’s what Catholic Charities does, it represents us.”
“These people have been so helpful, and we are recognizing them for their good humanitarian efforts. Everybody can’t do their own charity personally — but through CC, they represent them. They do the work on our behalf for the things that are necessary.”
Bishop DiMarzio and the Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens honored Nicola DeAcetis, a principal at MDG Design + Construction; Richard Lagnese, Sr., CEO of Allied Construction; and the Russo family, owners of Gargiulo’s Restaurant, with the Bishop’s Humanitarian Award.
Nino Russo, a co-owner of Gargiulo’s Restaurant in Coney Island, shared his excitement over the honor.
“We call the restaurant the diocesan dining room. We have so many priests come from all of the parishes in the area,” he said.
“We were taught to respect the Church, respect our neighbors, and to always serve, philanthropy and giving back. We’ve always helped the church — from fundraisers, card parties, school graduation lunches and Church events. We’ve been with all the churches for over 50 years. It’s an amazing feeling — you always do, and you do without asking.”
Frank Fusaro, co-founder and president of The Forum Group, a staffing agency, received the Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan Service Award.
“This is a great honor that should really go to the employees of Catholic Charities who do incredible work — the people who feed the elderly, house them, clothe them, take their time with them, they’re the heroes, not me,” Fusaro told The Tablet.
Six employees of Catholic Charities Brooklyn & Queens received the John J. Farrell Award, honoring the late Farrell, a longtime member of the organization’s board.
CEO of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, Msgr. Alfred LoPinto thanked sponsors and attendees at the dinner awards, “You make us very happy with your presence here this evening… the number of people throughout Brooklyn and Queens that you are assisting, by being here, walking with them in their struggles, as they try to rebuild the fabric of their lives.”