Jack Balinsky receives Exemplary Service Award

Jack Balinsky honored with J. Alan Davitt Award

for Exemplary Service, State Legislature Resolution

Photo by Rochester Business Journal

Jack Balinsky, director of Diocese of Rochester Catholic Charities, has been awarded the 2011 J. Alan Davitt Award for Exemplary Service by the New York State Catholic Conference, which represents the Catholic bishops of New York in matters of public policy. The award was presented at the Conference's annual Public Policy Day Mass in Albany on Tuesday, March 7. The late J. Alan Davitt was a former executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference. In addition, the New York State Legislature honored Balinsky on the occasion of the award with a special Legislative Resolution, calling him a "true asset to society" with a "distinguished record meriting the respect and recognition of the Legislature."

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Bishop of Rochester Matthew H. Clark said he was proud of Balinsky, crediting him with "vision, passion and energy" in building a system of diocesan Catholic Charities in which more than 250,000 people a year of all walks of life are served. "From a few scattered agencies we now can offer services in all areas of the diocese in such areas as home-purchase assistance; senior services; emergency services for food, clothing and housing; help for the homeless; assistance to developmentally disabled people; help for people with mental illness; migrant-family assistance; and help with addiction, among many other services," the Bishop said. 

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"You truly have made this your life’s work and mission, and this has meant life-changing help for those who need it most," Bishop Clark added. "You exemplify the word ‘service and you honor the name 'Christian.'"

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This is the second major honor in less than a year for Balinsky who, in September 2010, was awarded a prestigious Centennial Medal by Catholic Charities USA, one of only 100 to be awarded nationally during the organization's 100th Anniversary celebration. 

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Balinsky, 64, a native of Syracuse, has been diocesan director since 1992. He is credited with vastly expanding the services and presence of Catholic Charities in the 12-county diocese,  from three subsidiary agencies to 10. Before joining the Diocese of Rochester, Balinsky served in a variety of roles in Diocese of Syracuse Catholic Charities from 1971-1984 , including as area director. From 1984-1990, he was executive secretary of the State Council of Catholic Charities Directors in Albany, and from 1990-1992 served as executive director of the DuLac Community Development Corp, also in Albany. He is a 1969 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where he achieved the honor of class valedictorian, and also holds a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Princeton University. He also has made a life's work of chronicling the long service of Catholic Charities in the Diocese of Rochester and New York State, researching and writing eight volumes of history. 

Balinsky directs a diocesan Catholic Charities family of agencies and affiliates that serve more than 250,000 people annually, regardless of religious affiliation, in such areas as home-purchase assistance; senior services,; emergency services for food, clothing and housing; help for the homeless; assistance to developmentally disabled people; help for people with mental illness; migrant-family assistance; and help with addiction, among others. 

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The Diocese of Rochester's family of agencies and affiliates are: Camp Stella Maris, the Food Bank of the Southern Tier, Catholic Family Center and Catholic Charities Community Services in Rochester, Catholic Charities of Livingston County, Catholic Charities of Wayne County, Catholic Charities of the Finger Lakes, Catholic Charities of Chemung/Schuyler, Catholic Charities of Steuben County, Kinship Family and Youth Services, Catholic Charities of Tompkins/Tioga, Providence Housing Development Corp. and Diocesan Services.

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In remarks upon receiving the J. Alan Davitt Award at the Mass, Balinsky said he was humbled by the award and grateful for the honor but especially for the staff and volunteers of Catholic Charities that daily serve the needs of many. "Our faith demands that we serve the poor, the vulnerable, the isolated, the stranger. The vehicle through which the institutional church does this is Catholic Charities."