May 31, 2022

Sister Betsy Van Deusen, CSJ, to Lead Her Last Food Distribution Ahead of Transition to Catholic Charities CEO Role

Albany, NY – On TUESDAY, MAY 31, Sister Betsy Van Deusen, CSJ, coordinated her 244th  Catholic Charities drive-through food pantry – and her last one before she becomes Catholic Charities’ CEO in July. Once again, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Albany partnered with the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, CDPHP and the Capital District Area Labor Federation for a mass food distribution at 230 Green Street in Albany. 

Sr. Betsy, who for the last nine years has served as Catholic Charities’ Director of Community Partnerships, in July will succeed Vincent W. Colonno, who is retiring after 11 years as Chief Executive Officer. Barb Willis, who previously served as Payroll and Human Resources Manager at Catholic Charities, will oversee future food distributions as CC MOVE Manager 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Sr. Betsy spearheaded the expansion of CC MOVE throughout the region, including the exponential growth of food distributions throughout the 14-county Albany Diocese – all done in partnership with such local organizations as Centro Civico in Amsterdam, Metropolitan Baptist Church and Macedonia Baptist Church in Albany, CDPHP, Lansingburgh Boys and Girls Club, and Our Lady of Hope Catholic Church in Fort Plain. 

Prior to the pandemic, the organizations coordinated one distribution a month, serving around 300 households at each. As COVID-19 disrupted daily life, more and more people came out for food. One event a month became four, then five, then eight. Before long Catholic Charities, with food provided by the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, was regularly distributing food to more than 600 families at each event.  All told, more than 4.4 million pounds of food have been distributed to more than 425,000 people throughout the Diocese. 

Even with the discontinuance of pandemic-related shutdowns, need has remained unrelenting. 

These distributions are a part of Catholic Charities' mobile outreach initiative, CC MOVE, and provide supplemental and emergency food in areas with limited access to services. 

CC MOVE’s outreach program is also a catalyst for case management as it helps connect people to additional programs and services. CC MOVE guests can even speak with on-site case managers to receive further support as needed.  

“The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the already persistent problem of food insecurity in our region. Under Sister Betsy’s leadership, CC MOVE has become a lifeline for people across our Diocese,” Colonno said. “Today, our neighbors continue to struggle to put food on the table and at Catholic Charities, we remain steadfast in our commitment to help. The efforts of our volunteers, partners and Sister Betsy have been tremendous and it is thanks to them that we're able to get folks the support they need.” 

 “CC MOVE affords us the privilege of meeting people where they’re at and walking with them to conquer challenges and find successes. Through CC MOVE, we’re not only handing out food. We’re able to connect our neighbors to resources such as pantry services or case management,” Sister Betsy said. 

A native of Cobleskill and a graduate of the College of Saint Rose, Sr. Betsy entered the religious community of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Carondelet (cah-RON-deh-LET) in 1988. She began her human services career in 1985 at Unity House in Troy, then a program of Catholic Charities, where she administered a 24-hour emergency shelter for domestic violence victims and focused on crisis intervention and management. Since 2013, Sr. Betsy has served as Catholic Charities’ Director of Community Partnerships.