Since its founding in 1982, St. John’s Bread & Life has provided vital services to the residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, including serving more than 1,000 meals a day to its guests. Each year, the organization hosts the Johnny’s Angel Dinner, a fundraiser that honors friends of the organization who support and honor its mission in their own lives.
At the dinner held earlier this summer, Joseph Sciame ’71Ed, Vice President, Office of Community Relations, received the Dr. Pamela Shea-Byrnes Award, named for Mr. Sciame’s late, dear friend and colleague—with whom he shared a deep and abiding commitment to those most vulnerable.
Reflecting on the honor, Mr. Sciame said, “I was humbled by the presence of so many who share in my outlook on life that there is such an abundance of need in our society, especially in the area of Bedford-Stuyvesant. Recalling my Vincentian education at St. John’s University, I could not imagine a more worthy cause.”
Sr. Caroline Tweedy, R.S.M, Executive Director, St. John’s Bread & Life, said, “We selected Joe based on his incredible commitment to Catholic social teaching. He encourages students, faculty, and alumni to give time to worthy charities such as Bread & Life. If you look at his résumé, he has made an impact on countless organizations. He is committed to serving the needs of our brothers and sisters across multiple platforms, and is a longtime supporter of Bread & Life. He believes in our mission to feed the body, mind, and spirit.”
St. John’s Bread & Life was founded in 1982. As a ministry of the Daughters of Charity and the Vincentian Fathers at St. John the Baptist Parish, it soon expanded beyond the parish boundaries and grew into a freestanding, not-for-profit corporation. This year’s event raised more than $400,000 to aid Bread & Life’s hunger and relief programs.
A St. John’s employee since 1962, Mr. Sciame has been a devoted member of the campus community, a longtime community activist, a Catholic leader, a US Army veteran, the Advisory Board Chair of the Italian Cultural Center, and a proud member of the Italian-American community. His memberships and leadership positions on local and national boards, as well as in civic, cultural, religious, and educational groups, are legion.
Mr. Sciame was also instrumental in the founding of the Bedford-Stuyvesant New Beginnings Charter School located at 82 Lewis Avenue, the former home of St. John’s Preparatory School, which was once affiliated with St. John’s University.
In his remarks at the event, Mr. Sciame said St. John’s Bread & Life provides an essential service, especially in the era of COVID-19. “There can be no better solution at the current time than to help those in need by providing sustenance for their survival. We can all make a difference. We make a difference by the way we lead our lives, but we also make a difference when we do something.”
“You are all here tonight, not merely for the food at the table or to get a breath of fresh air following quarantine due to the pandemic—but because you hear the cry as I do. You see the need.”