Submitted photos and press release:
The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation’s Outstanding Italian American awards and scholarship event for Spring 2017 will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday, June 14th at Terry Hills Restaurant in Batavia.
This honor is awarded to a man and/or woman who has given exemplary service to their community.
This year the awards are being presented to Rick Mancuso and Peppina (Peppi) Palmer. These honorees have left a special mark on their communities. Youth groups, veterans, seniors and those lonely, ill and nearing the end of their lives have experienced their love and thoughtfulness.
The Foundation is proud of these Italian American heroes for their representation of the Italian American community.
Tickets for the dinner are available from any board member, at Giambroni Appliance and the VJ Gautieri offices on Liberty Street.
About Rick Mancuso
Rick Mancuso was born in Batavia to Benjamin Jr. and Mercedes Mahoney Mancuso. He is graduate of Notre Dame High School and Niagara University.
Rick’s Nana and Nanu Mancuso immigrated to the United States from Vallelunga, Sicily, and Rick was raised living and working the “American Dream” alongside his grandfather. Upon graduation from Niagara University with a BS in Management, Rick returned to work full time at Batavia Plumbing Supply. Following the sale of that company he began at Mancuso Real Estate & Mancuso Restaurant.
In 1995, he opened T.F. Brown’s Restaurant along with continuing the Mancuso Bowling Center and he remains there as president/owner today, as well as the president/broker of Main and Ellicott Properties (Mancuso Real Estate). He has exemplified the morals and values of hard work, family first and supporting his community for all his adult years in the Batavia area.
Rick has served many community organizations over the years, including leadership roles in the Batavia Area Jaycees, Batavia Rotary Club, The Batavia Club, Children’s Home Association, Genesee County United Way, Batavia Improvement District, Batavia Area YMCA, and the Genesee County Planning Board. He has also held positions on the Advisory Board for Genesee County Stop DWI and as a Coalition Member for Drug Free Communities.
Through his strong faith, he is committed to his church and Catholic education. Rick was President of the Lady of Loretto Society for several years through St. Anthony’s Church (an Italian heritage organization), and was a long-standing member of the Board of Directors for Notre Dame High School. Rick is a member of Resurrection Parish and is often found at daily mass.
Locally and regionally, Rick has been well known as a coach of youth sports since his return to Batavia following college. Perhaps most noteworthy, for 20-plus years as a football coach at Notre Dame High School. Under his leadership as the ND Girls Varsity Softball coach, his teams also attended state playoffs for several years with Rick being honored as both the Section V Coach of the Year and the New York State Coach of the Year for Girls Softball.
Rick has been coaching the youth of Genesee County for over 36 years! He has coached a wide variety of sports including Batavia Minor & Little League Baseball, Batavia Youth Football (also serving on the board and as board president) Genesee Amateur Soccer and YMCA Youth Basketball.
Perhaps one of the most notable contributions Rick has made as a community volunteer is his continued support of the T.F. Brown’s Community Christmas Dinner. Along with the Lion’s Club, Rick and his family have hosted this event on Christmas Day for the past 25 years! His support can also be seen regularly throughout the community as Rick and T.F. Brown’s are frequent sponsors of sporting teams, and just about ANYTHING youth oriented.
Naturally, Rick Mancuso has been honored by several local organizations for his accomplishments. However, when asked, Rick shares enthusiastically that his greatest accomplishment is found in the five children he shares with his wife of 34 years, Julie:
Morgan (Doug) Sicheri, Alexandra (Don) DiLaura, Rick Jr., Patrick, Madelyn and his dearest pride and joy – grandsons Vincent and Benjamin DiLaura.
Rick is a proud Italian American who states that “I never really considered the affects of growing up in a family strongly rooted in Italian traditions. Knowing no differently, I just thought everyone went to mass on Sunday and then to Nana’s house, and holidays and specials occasions always involved too much amazing food, tons of family time and great memories. All of which I intend to continue for generations to come.”
About Peppina (Peppi) Palmer
Peppina (Peppi) Palmer will be honored this year with the Paolo Busti Award for positive achievements and contributions to her community.
Born on Dec. 16, 1949, she was named Peppina in honor of her recently deceased paternal grandmother, Giuseppina Palmer. Her name was not Americanized to be Josephine. She was and always will be Peppi, someone who has demonstrated in her life, in her work and in her faith all that it means to be an outstanding Italian American.
Her parents, John Palmer and Anna Tresco Palmer, were born and raised in Batavia, first generation Italian Americans. Her maternal grandfather, Joseph Tresco, like many Italian immigrants, worked for the New York Central Railroad. Her paternal grandfather founded and was the proprietor of a successful Italian restaurant located on Ellicott Street in the heart of the Southside, mainly Italian district, of Batavia.
Peppi attended St. Mary’s School through eighth grade and then attended Batavia High School.
During her high school years Peppi became interested in nursing. She decided to enroll in the BHS BOCES course in nursing assistance. Upon graduating from BHS in 1968, she secured a nursing assistance position at the Veterans Hospital.
Devotion to her family was matched only by her devotion to “her” vets. “It’s not a job,” she would say. “It is a privilege to be in the company of heroes every day.” In addition to providing nursing assistance, she enjoyed socializing with the vets. She prepared the food, hosted and served an annual spaghetti supper for them. On Sundays she could be found transporting patients back and forth to the chapel so they could attend Mass. It was a much-anticipated event at the hospital when Peppi would bring in her therapy shih tzus, "Lottie," "Jelly Bean" and "Tinkie." The patients greatly enjoyed holding and petting the sweet, tiny dogs. Even after her retirement in 2014 she spent time at the hospital visiting patients and volunteering in the physical therapy department.
In 2006, she was recognized for her service to patients. Planetree, the nonprofit patient-centered care organization, honored her with a Designation Award. The award is given annually to those persons within the healthcare system who demonstrate the highest level of patient/person centered care based on evidence and standards.
Her volunteer work did not end at the NYS Veterans Hospital. She has volunteered for almost 20 years at Crossroads House; for 10 years with the Michael Napoleon Foundation; for the Ricky Palermo Golf Tournament and with the Batavia Peace Garden. For the past seven years she has been active in Our Lady of Mercy parish in Le Roy. She is a Eucharistic Minister, participates in the Parish Outreach program and leads the efforts of the parish to provide Mercy Meals for bereaved families.
Her life will always be centered on the three Fs of Italian heritage – Faith, Family and Food.
Peppi wants it to be known, in accepting this award with deepest gratitude and humility, that none of her accomplishments, whether personal or professional, would be possible without the love and encouragement she receives from her daughters, Andrea Schoenberger Casey and Sarah Schoenberger; daughter-in-law, Colleen Schoenberger; son-in-law, Ryan Casey; grandsons Luke, Caleb and Brooks Casey; and her many friends.
Peppi will forever be indebted to her mother, Anna, who was the best role model for what it means to be an outstanding Italian American.