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The Times
  • Former legislator, Operation Sunshine honored at charity luncheon

  • Claudine Grande spoke about the three most important things in her life on Thursday — her faith, her family and her friends.

    “[They] are always there for me all the time,” she said, after being recognized with the individual Window of Hope Award during the seventh annual luncheon at the Knights Inn.

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  • Claudine Grande spoke about the three most important things in her life on Thursday — her faith, her family and her friends.
    “[They] are always there for me all the time,” she said, after being recognized with the individual Window of Hope Award during the seventh annual luncheon at the Knights Inn.
    The award is given through Catholic Charities of Herkimer County.
    Grande, of Herkimer, served as a county legislator for 15 years and taught at United Cerebral Palsy for 20 years. She has also served on the parish council and numerous committees at Saints Anthony and Joseph Church in Herkimer, and formerly taught religious education. She is currently active on the Catholic Charities Board of Directors and the Herkimer County Prevention Council.
    “Catholic Charities of Herkimer County has opened the window for many people in Herkimer County,” she said. “They’re the ones deserving of this award.”
    Herkimer Mayor Mark Ainsworth said he got to know Grande through their involvement with local politics. “Just as a window sheds light into a dark room, Claudine lights up a room with her smile,” he said.
    Ainsworth said Grande as a legislator was an example of how politicians should represent their constituents, and she always “tries to make a positive difference.”
    “Her daily actions speak louder than any words I could ever say. She lives her faith,” he said.
    Two proclamations declared Claudine Grande Day on two different days: one from the Herkimer County Legislature on Friday, Sept. 21, and another from the village of Herkimer, for Sept. 27.
    She was also recognized by state Assemblyman Marc Butler, state Sen. James Seward and U.S. Rep. Richard Hanna.
    Operation Sunshine was recognized with the organization Window of Hope award.
    Operation Sunshine, which formed in 1968, is a community initiative to assist the less fortunate residents of the Mohawk Valley. The program, operated by The Observer-Dispatch, has a mission of enabling kids to get to a summer camp and to ensure that all in need have a bright Christmas season.
    The campership program raises more than $55,000 annually and the holiday campaign brings in $75,000. Since it became part of the program in 2003, Operation Sunshine has provided Catholic Charities of Herkimer County with nearly $118,000, which has enabled them to help approximately 3,500 children from 1,600 households.
    “It has helped us to increase the number and amount of outreach to families in our area,” said Terry Leonard, executive director of Catholic Charities of Herkimer County.
    Donna Donovan, president and publisher of The Observer-Dispatch, accepted the award.
    Grande and Donovan were presented with handmade, stained glass awards.
    Bishop Howard Hubbard, of the Diocese of Albany, said both were deserving of the recognition.
    “They’re two outstanding people who have made a tremendous impact on this community,” he said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Hubbard also commented on the role of Catholic Charities in difficult times, which provides “manifold needs through multi-faceted programs.” Through emergency response, aid for senior citizens and the Kateri’s Thrift Shop, he said the chapter “responds to the need of the community of Herkimer County.”

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