Submitted photos and press release:
The Paolo Busti Cultural Foundation of Genesee County will honor two “Outstanding Italian-Americans” and annual scholarships will be awarded on Wednesday, June 13th, at Terry Hills in Batavia.
This year's honorees are Lucille DiSanto and Larry Hale. Candidates for scholarships are: Lauren Leone, Jacob Gualtieri and Carli Piazza.
Tickets for the dinner are available at Ben’s Appliance, V.J. Gautieri Construction or from any board member.
Guests will be served a fabulous deluxe “Italian Plate” with dessert, and the works for $30 per person. This is the one of foundation’s only fundraisers and all proceeds go to our scholarship program.
Please come out and enjoy a wonderful evening and celebrate the contributions Italian-Americans have made right here in Genesee County and our scholarship recipients.
Any questions and for reserved seating contact Michele Fuller (585) 768-7016.
About the Honorees
Lucille DiSanto is married to Gary DiSanto, and they are the proud parents of four children.
Andrea (Jeremy Layton), Lisa LaFornara, Vincent and Joseph DiSanto. Her grandchildren Madison and Ethan always make her smile!
While growing up in Batavia, she attended St. Mary's Elementary School, Notre Dame High School, and Genesee Community College. While going to school, she worked for her father, Paul Messina, at the Buccaneer Restaurant. She calls those years the "School of Hard Knocks."
"That is where I honed my work ethic and learned the benefit of hard work and dedication," she said.
She is extremely proud of her Italian heritage. Her father's family came from Velalunga, Sicily. Her mother, Gilda Ruffalo Messina, was born in Regio, Calabria. Her father's family settled in Batavia and managed muck land in Elba for many years.
Lucille received her teaching degree at Oneonta College, a master's degree in Special Education at Binghampton University, and an administrative degree at Canisius College. She taught elementary school in Unadilla and Sidney, NY.
She returned to Batavia in 1998 and began teaching for the Batavia City Schools, where she remained for 20 years. She became an adjunct instructor for Genesee Community College and received the NISOD Award for Excellence in Teaching. (NISOD stands for the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development.)
A member of the Zonta Club, she began a teenage service group called the Z-Club. It is an organization that provides opportunities for youth to develop leadership skills, explore career alternatives and to improve international understanding through projects and advocacy.
The club has raised enough money to have four water towers built at schools in Uganda, educate women in Madagascar, and conduct a Salvation Army Food Drive as well as a Toy Drive for YWCA. Club members also run the Z-Closet at Batavia High School and they help various organizations in Batavia. They were recognized by the Batavia City Council for their work in the community.
Lucille also organized the Zonta Holiday Festival and is organizing a carnival at Batavia Downs that will benefit a variety of organizations that are seeking to raise money.
In proud honor of her Italian heritage, she volunteered at St. Anthony's, in the making of the St. Joseph's Table, an Italian tradition. The Paulo Busti Foundation is delighted to name Lucille an "Outstanding Italian American."
Lawrence (Larry) Hale was born and raised in Batavia. He began working at 16 at the family business.
It was at Ficarella’s Pizzeria that he learned the value of family and hard work. He is a graduate of Batavia High School where he met his childhood sweetheart, Diane (Mazur) Hale; they’ve been married 27 years. They have five sons! Zachary, Alex, Dillon, and twins Tyler and Jacob.
His grandmother was an immigrant from Sicily. He credits his Italian roots for his work ethic and determination. He has had to work hard to raise his large family.
Larry graduated from the New York State Corrections Academy in Albany. It was there he began his career in corrections. After three years they moved back to Batavia, where they wanted to raise their family. He currently works at Attica Correctional Facility, where he will retire from, after 25 years.
In 2000 Larry began volunteering as a coach. Over the past 18 years he has coached teams at every age level. There were seasons when he coached three teams simultaneously! This included All Stars, Travel and Fall Ball. He served as Treasurer of the Batavia Minor League Board and Vice President and President of the Batavia Little League Board.
On a Saturday morning at 6 a.m. you could find him preparing the fields to play. He has a passion for coaching, and believes sports are important both mentally and physically. He said, “Sports are not about winning, they are about respect, overcoming hardships, discipline, hard work and camaraderie.”
Since its inception in 2007, Larry has volunteered for the Michael Napoleone Foundation. This foundation holds a special place in his heart. Michael was a classmate and special friend to his twin sons. His wife serves on the Board of Directors. Larry is instrumental in coordinating the annual Michael Napoleone Foundation Memorial Day Baseball Tournament, which is a huge success.
Larry is an excellent role model to the hundreds of children he has coached, and it is our honor to name him an “Outstanding Italian American.”
About the Student Scholarship Candidates
Lauren Leone, above, is a senior at Batavia High School, and the daughter of David and Lisa Leone.
Through all of high school Lauren has been very active in student government: serving as class president for three years; student government executive secretary for one year; lead attorney for the mock trial team for three years; hostess of the Mr. Batavia charity event in 2018; president of the National Honor Society in 2017; Link Crew leader for two years; and a student contributor to the A+ Batavia Communicator (school district newsletter) in 2017.
She has been on the varsity tennis team for three years, String Sensations for four years, Batavia High School Orchestra for four years, and GWMEA county and state solo festival participant for three years.
Lauren has received awards for perfect attendance from 2016 through 2018, varsity tennis scholar athlete for three years, Monroe County All-League Athlete award twice, Scholastic Bowl Rookie of the Year in 2017, American Chemical Society Achievement in 2016 and 2017 and the NSYEO Seal of Biliteracy in English and Spanish in 2018.
Lauren has also been a lector at Ascension Parish in Batavia once a month since 2014. She has volunteered for Linda Bartlett’s summer writing program, at the Holland Land Office Museum’s History Heroes program and for Crossroads House.
Lauren intends to major in both Journalism and Political Science at either Ithaca College or Syracuse University.
Jacob Gualtieri, above, is a senior at Notre Dame High School in Batavia, and the son of Michael and Deborah Gualtieri, of Le Roy.
He is a past member of Science Club and Junior National Honor Society and a current member of National Honor Society.
For all four years of high school Jacob has participated in varsity track and field, varsity cross country and the school chorus. He has also participated in his school’s productions of "Godspell" and "Beauty and the Beast."
He is very active in his church and has been an altar servant for the last six years, gone on a mission trip to help organize a refugee center and assist the elderly, and caroled at elderly living facilities during the holidays.
He is a scholar athlete, won the Computing Medal Award in 2017 and holds a black belt in Isshyn-Ryu Karate which he achieved in 2014. Jacob plans on attending Rochester Institute of Technology to major in Computer Engineering.
Carli Piazza, above, is a senior at Le Roy High School, and the daughter of John and Joele Piazza.
She has belonged to Rotary Club since 2017 and the Ecology Club since 2016. She has been on the honor roll for all four years of high school.
Carli played basketball for four years and has been on the soccer team since seventh grade.
She has volunteered for several events and organizations -- from helping teachers at Open House, to working an alumni basketball game, to a children’s roller-skating party, to the Hope Center of Le Roy.
She plans on attending either Monroe Community College or Genesee Community College to major in Interior Design.