The Max and Marian Farash Charitable Foundation awarded the 2014 Farash Prize for Social Entrepreneurship to Sr. Christine Wagner, Executive Director of St. Joseph's Neighborhood center. The award recognizes and rewards the grassroots efforts of those who work to bring about social change. The Prize, first awarded in 2012 to the late Thomas Ferrara of Foodlink, encourages the continuation of innovative approaches that not only meet, but reduce, community needs. By recognizing an individual, the Prize seeks to inspire others to take extraordinary action to enhance our community.
As Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Neighborhood Center, Sr. Christine has worked to ensure health care for the uninsured and under-insured from Rochester and eight surrounding counties. To do this, she has tirelessly and continually recruited the funds, the equipment, the volunteers and the health care professionals to make it all happen.
Opened in a small abandoned building in December of 1993, the Center has now tripled in size, serving more than 2000 people each year with medical care, dental care, mental health counseling and many medical specialties. The Center is also now an educational center to more than fifty students each year, who are obtaining their nursing or doctoral degree, or pre-and post graduate license in mental health counseling.
From a stack of forty nominations, the five-member selection committee narrowed their nominees down to four and chose Sr. Christine Wagner as the 2014 winner. "In her work at the Center, Sr. Christine is the definition of a social entrepreneur for the good of the community," said Edward Hourihan, Jr., Trustee of the Farash Foundation and Chair of the Selection Committee. "We are pleased to honor her with the 2014 Farash prize."
The prize carried with it a gift of $100,000 to benefit St. Joseph's Neighborhood Center. Christine also received an original sculpture created by Nancy Jurs, a renowned artist from Scottsville.
"I'm honored to receive this award and to be recognized with Nydia Padilla, Dr. Louise Bennett and Sadiya Omar," said Sr. Christine. "The Legacy of going into a community and recruiting others to help you solve a societal problem actually goes back 350 years to France, to the original mission of the Sisters of St. Joseph. I'm amazed at the continued growth and success of the Neighborhood Center for these twenty-one years, and I'm grateful to all the volunteers, donors, staff and board members who have contributed to our success. I am truly overwhelmed and very grateful to the Farash Foundation to receive this wonderful recognition."
The award was presented November 5th at the Dryden Theatre of the George Eastman House, followed by a reception for nominees and their guests. A congratulatory dinner for the nominees followed at the Genesee Valley Club.
St. Joseph’s Neighborhood Center provides comprehensive health care, counseling, adult education and social work to individuals and families who lack access to health insurance. Established in 1993 as a ministry of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Center is committed to raising the health status and quality of life of individuals and families.
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