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March 7, 2001

POPE JOHN XXIII AWARD RECIPIENTS TO HONOR THREE APRIL 3

LA CROSSE, Wis— Larry Long,  singer and songwriter; Tom Rand, best known for his work at Bethany-St. Joseph (BSJ);  and Sheila Garrity of the La Crosse Community Foundation; will receive the Pope John XXIII Award for Distinguished Service on  April 3 at Viterbo University

The ceremony and banquet, which will be held in the Fine Arts Center, is set for 6:30 p.m.

Larry Long has a profound voice in music. Whether it’s performing in the inner cities of Washington D.C., developing a folk school in Nogales, Mexico, or singing for Mrs. Rosa Parks on the 45th anniversary of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Larry Long is a different kind of artist. He has celebrated the lives of working people in the almost 1,000 ballads he has written. His songs champion the bravery of the family farmer, Lakota warriors, civil rights workers, and school cooks.

Long’s work goes well beyond a simple song or melody. He was hired  to bring elders into classrooms throughout rural Alabama to develop an intergenerational process that mixes oral history, songwriting, and education to help children learn the history of their town. From this project, emerged Community Celebration, an organization that brings children, elders, and the people of different backgrounds together to celebrate the similarities and differences within our communities.

Rand has served as executive director of BSJ for the past 23 years where he has overall responsibility for four nursing homes, eight senior housing facilities and five adult community service programs. Rand is  also co-founder of the La Crosse Community Thanksgiving Dinner, an annual event that had its beginnings in 1981 at the Roncalli Newman Center. Over the years, the dinner has grown to an area-wide event serving thousands of people and involving hundreds of volunteers. Rand has also served as president of the Wisconsin Association of Homes and Services for the Aging and chairperson of the Wisconsin Medical Assistance Advisory Committee  and as a Wisconsin delegate to the 1995 White House Council on Aging.

Sheila Garrity has also been very active in her community. Besides directing the activities of the La Crosse Foundation for the past 10 years, her other initiatives include: the School Lunch Fund; the Community Liaison Program; Hunger Task Force efforts; the Foundation Women’s Fund; the Bridge Builders Fund; the Youth Initiative and Skate Park; and the La Crosse County Board Jail Study Committee. Garrity is a member of the La Crosse County Board and the Franciscan Spirituality Center Board. In 1998, following the death of her husband, she established  Jim’s  (Gokey) Grocery Bag, a memorial that provides funding for an elementary school food pantry.

Call 796-3070 for information regarding the Pope John XXIII Awards and ticket availability.

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