Fairfield Glade council has state Knight and family of the year

Larry and Myra Opatik and Vince and Sandra D’Alessandro attend the Tennessee Knights State Convention banquet.

The state of Tennessee Knights of Columbus recently held their annual convention for the 105 councils representing the 12,400 member Knights across the state. Among the activities of the convention was the presentation of awards to councils, assemblies, and some individuals based on activities during the fraternal year.

Two notable individual awards presented are the State Knight of the Year and the State Family of the Year. Fairfield Glade’s Monsignor Philip F. Thoni Council 16088 is proud to announce that both of these prestigious awards went to members of its council and St. Francis of Assisi Parish.

The purpose of the Family of the Year award is to promote and support the development of strong and vibrant families. The recipient is selected by a committee whose target is a family that models Christian family values and visibly lives them every day. This year, the committee chose to honor Vincent and Sandra D’Alessandro with this recognition. The D’Alessandros are extensively involved in activities at St. Francis of Assisi Parish with leadership roles in music and liturgy planning, the church environment committee, and the parish safety team. Both D’Alessandros are active supporters of Knights of Columbus activities for the Hilltoppers Inc., a nonprofit agency that assists adults with intellectual and other specific disabilities promoting health, independence, and employment to achieve success and a full life. Sandra is also an active member of the Ladies Club of Fairfield Glade and Hospice of Cumberland County.

The Knight of the Year award promotes the example of faithful men. This year, the selection committee chose Larry Opatik. Mr. Opatik is involved in the Knights of Columbus activities that support the Hilltoppers. He has set up and coordinated benefit concerts for the Hilltoppers in the spring and fall of each year for several years. The performers, the Mount LeConte Jug Band and Jeff Allen and AC Drive, perform at no charge, allowing the Hilltoppers the ultimate gain from concert revenues.

Additionally, Mr. Opatik has established the Hilltop Cluckers, a group of Hilltoppers members who perform a few songs before each of the main acts in the concerts. Mr. Opatik plays guitar and practices with the Cluckers for many weeks leading up to each concert, which is very rewarding to the singers involved. His presence in each of these sessions is looked forward to by all at Hilltoppers.

Besides his great work with the Hilltoppers, Mr. Opatik was instrumental in setting up a golf-club donation and repair program for the purpose of helping the youth of Cumberland County. During the year, this group collected and distributed more than 200 sets of golf clubs to area schools. Clubs that were too aged or in disrepair were cut to an appropriate length for the intended players and fitted with new grips. Besides distributing the clubs, this project donated other golf items, including about 5,000 golf balls.

The Monsignor Philip F. Thoni Council and St. Francis of Assisi Parish are proud to have Vince and Sandy D’Alessandro and Larry Opatik among their members.

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