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Vita et Caritas Award Recipients
Bishop Peter A. Libasci, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, will again this year present the Vita et Caritas Award (For Life and Love Award). The Award will be presented to a non-profit organization’s volunteer who makes significant contributions to the organization. The award recipient will be honored at the Bishop’s Summer Reception on September 13, 2023, 5-8 pm, at Currier Museum of Art in Manchester and the non-profit agency will receive a grant of $2,500.
History of the Vita et Caritas Award
This annual award is given in honor of the memory of Ruthie Ford, whose life reflected Catholic ideals and tireless dedication to service in the cause of helping women, children and families. Guided by the principle that life is a gift from God, she used her beliefs to create social action.
In 2022, we presented the eighth Vita et Caritas Award to Dawn Longval, President, Isaiah 61 Café, in Laconia, NH. Isaiah 61 Café offers the homeless, also known as their friends, a continental breakfast, hot lunch, much needed bathroom facilities, hot showers, washers and dryers, and lockers to try to make up for all they lack. Isaiah 61 Café is 100% volunteer based. They have over 30 volunteers and no one receives compensation, leaving 100% of donations to be used for their mission.
In 2021, we presented the seventh Vita et Caritas Award to Shalimar Encarnacion. Shalimar has been instrumental in the statewide growth of the scholarship program for underprivileged New Hampshire children. She provides translation and interpretation service to the Children’s Scholarship Fund and families that need assistance. She promotes school choice and their scholarships by representing them in community organizations, at events and in the media.
Watch this video about Shalimar and the Children's Scholarship Fund New Hampshire.
In 2020, we presented the sixth Vita et Caritas Award to Peter Eldredge. Mr. Eldredge is a member of the Family Advisory Panel at Community Partners, in Dover, and has been a fierce and tireless advocate for people with disabilities and their families since the 1980s. He has been part of the Family Advisory Council assuring the voices of the disabled are heard, particularly as programs are developed, to address unmet needs. He has stood steadfast when services are developed and services were cut never being afraid to speak for those whose voice is often ignored.
In 2019, we presented the fifth Vita et Caritas Award to Deacon Frank J. Ottaviano. Deacon Ottaviano is an Assistant Chaplain at Catholic Medical Center (CMC) in Manchester and assists the CMC chaplains in providing for spiritual and pastoral care of CMC’s patients, with a focus on those presently struggling with addiction as well as those in recovery. On any given day, Deacon will visit 10-25 patients battling addiction, and he reminds each and every person he meets with that God’s mercy is freely given, allowing them to recognize that God loves them and that recovery is possible.
In 2018, we presented the fourth Vita et Caritas Award to Hamisi Juma. In 2014, Mr. Juma founded the Safari Youth Club in Manchester and has been the Executive Director. The Club educates and empowers youth refugees and immigrants through sports and arts and provides training and mentoring to help youth reach all their goals in life.
In 2017, we presented the third Vita et Caritas Award to Ms. Linda Shemanske. Ms. Shemanske is a board vice president for Good Beginnings of the Upper Valley. She has served as a volunteer for the past 30+ years and is one of the founders of the organization along with other women of St. Denis Parish in Hanover.
In 2016, we presented the second Vita et Caritas Award to Mr. George Rousseau. Mr. Rousseau is a Guardian ad Litem for Court Appointed Special Advocates of New Hampshire (CASA). In his fifteen years as a volunteer with CASA, Mr. Rousseau has personally advocated in the N.H. Courts for nearly 20 children who have suffered from neglect or
abuse, with ages ranging from newborn up to 18 years old.
In 2015, we presented the inaugural Vita et Caritas Award to Dr. Nicole Varasteh to recognize her work caring for pregnant women. Dr. Varasteh is an Obstetrics and Gynecology physician with Dartmouth Hitchcock in Concord, who volunteers her time with CareNet Pregnancy Center of Manchester and Nashua and CareNet Pregnancy Center of Greater Concord.