September 11, 2009

‘Angels of Grace’ to honor women for community service

By Mary Ann Wyand

BEECH GROVE—Bernadette Price and Marion Mascari enjoy helping people with developmental disabilities.

Pamela Altmeyer finds joy in providing healthy food for low-income people in central Indiana.

These three women, who have dedicated their lives to serving others, will be honored for their distinguished Church or community service by the Sisters of St. Benedict of Our Lady of Grace Monastery during the second annual “Angels of Grace—A Celebration of Women” awards luncheon on Sept. 26 at the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center, 1402 Southern Ave., in Beech Grove.

The luncheon and awards program, which is a fundraiser for the sisters’ Benedict Inn retreat ministry, begins at 10:30 a.m. with registration, and also includes a style show featuring the latest fall and winter fashions from The Secret Ingredient in Indianapolis.

Participants will have time to shop at the store’s boutique as well as at Shop INN-Spired, the sisters’ gift shop at the Benedict Inn.

Benedictine Sister Ann Patrice Papesh, director of development for her religious community, is the emcee. The luncheon will be provided by Tammy Wood, the kitchen manager at Our Lady of Fatima Retreat House in Indianapolis, who also has a part-time catering business.

Benedictine Sister Mary Luke Jones, administrator of the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center, said the event is a way for the sisters to recognize three women for their extraordinary accomplishments and also honor all women for their loving service to others in daily life.

“The sisters, through our Benedict Inn retreat ministry, are very committed to women,” Sister Mary Luke said. “We want to be very supportive of women, and that’s what inspired us to start this program, which is now in its second year.

“That idea grew into, ‘Let’s recognize three women who have distinguished themselves in our society through the Church or community,’ ” she said, “ ‘and let’s make it affordable so that women can honor other women who have made a difference in their lives.’ We encourage women to bring their moms, sisters, friends, teachers and supervisors as guests. We want this to be a very fun day with good food, good fashions and the opportunity to say thanks to the women who will join us that day.”

Good Shepherd parishioner Bernadette Price of Indianapolis will receive the Angel Raphael Award for being “a companion to those in need of help and assistance.”

Price is well-known in the Catholic community for her 35 years of ministry to young people as the girls’ athletic director for the archdiocesan Catholic Youth Organization in Indianapolis.

She is also recognized as a talented comedienne, and has performed at comedy clubs in the Indianapolis area.

But people may not know that she also finds time to volunteer at the Damar Home in Indianapolis with children who have developmental disabilities.

Or that she has helped with youth ministry activities since 1974 at the former St. Catherine Parish in Indianapolis then at Good Shepherd Parish.

“Bernie is a woman who wears many hats,” Sister Mary Luke said. “Although her schedule would exhaust most of us, she continually looks for things to do. She has literally touched the lives of thousands of young people through her [parish volunteer] work as well as the Catholic Youth Organization. She has been a good friend to the religious community, too.”

St. Roch parishioner Marion Mascari of Indianapolis will be honored with the Angel Gabriel Award for being “a messenger who spreads a word of hope and cheer.”

She is the mother of eight children and a devoted advocate for people with developmental disabilities. Her youngest child, Trese, was born with cerebral palsy.

Mascari worked with several other dedicated parents to start the R.I.S.E. Learning Center in Indianapolis, which is one of the premier schools in the state for people with disabilities.

She also helped that same group of parents start the Southside Work Center in Indianapolis, a sheltered workshop for adults with disabilities, then raise funds to build Handi-Capable Hands in Indianapolis, a facility where people with developmental disabilities can use their skills in a loving, low-stress and protected environment.

“Marion has been an angel to the disabled of this city for over 40 years,” Sister Mary Luke said. “Trese was born before there were laws in place to give the disabled their rights as citizens. From that moment on, Marion has dedicated herself to helping others with disabilities.”

Pamela Altmeyer of Indianapolis will be recognized with the Angel Michael Award for being “a defender of the dignity and goodness of others.”

As president and chief executive officer of Gleaners Food Bank of Indiana Inc. in Indianapolis, Altmeyer envisioned, developed and nurtured a food bank that fulfills its mission to better feed the hungry through a multilevel distribution system.

During the past 29 years, Gleaners Food Bank staff and volunteers have distributed more than 230 million pounds of food and grocery items—an average of 8 million pounds a year—to more than 400 central Indiana charities.

Altmeyer has tirelessly managed the development and growth of the food bank, which began in 1980 in a garage in Indianapolis.

The first year, four employees assisted by volunteers distributed 83,000 pounds of food. This year, 47 employees and more than 500 volunteers a month will help distribute more than 18 million pounds of groceries.

“Pam has just done remarkable work, “starting from nothing, essentially,” Sister Mary Luke said. “A native of Indianapolis and 1964 graduate of Ben Davis High School, Pam is [also] a valuable contributor as a member of numerous boards of important community associations.”

(Tickets are $30 per person or $210 for a table of eight people. For tickets or more information, call the Benedict Inn Retreat and Conference Center at 317-788-7581.)

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