Judges Linda and Thomas Teodosio turned the pain of losing their 22-year-old daughter into a foundation that honors her legacy by helping others.
“She had a heart for people. We were in Chicago, when she was about 16 years old, and we had picked up a pizza to take back to our hotel room. As we were walking, Andrea saw this homeless man and she asked if I would mind if she gave him our pizza,” Linda Teodosio recalled.
“She put her hand on his shoulder and said, ‘My mom and I have all of these packages and can’t carry this pizza. Do you mind taking it?’ She did it in such a way that it saved his dignity. That was Andrea.”
The Teodosios will be honored Friday as this year’s recipients of the Bishop Cosgrove Justice Award during the annual dinner of the Catholic Commission of Summit County. The dinner also will highlight the work of an individual and organization that have worked to bring people together to affect the community in a positive way, and will honor two youth — one posthumously — for their service to the needy.
The Teodosios’ award, named for the late Bishop William M. Cosgrove, is given to individuals or organizations that demonstrate a strong commitment to social justice in harmony with biblical values.
“The Judges Teodosio have been an ongoing example of persons with a deep faith and a strong and active commitment of inspiring and empowering others to do the same,” said Karen Leith, Catholic Commission director. “We honor them for their continuing empowerment of others as they fundraise and keep alive the spirit of their daughter, Andrea Rose, through the foundation started in her name that helps so many vulnerable people among us.”
Last year, Andrea died from injuries suffered in a skiing accident at a resort in central West Virginia. To continue her legacy as someone who cared for those in need, her parents established the Andrea Rose Teodosio Memorial Foundation (www.andrearose.org).
The foundation, which Chris Teodosio, the couple’s son, administrates, aims to assist with the needs of the underprivileged and senior population, to address environmental issues and to promote community service and education. At the time of her death, Andrea, a John Carroll University graduate, was working as a research and strategy development assistant and member of the Green Team for Hitchcock Fleming & Associates, a marketing communications firm in Akron.
To date, the foundation has provided a raised garden at Laurel House in Hudson, sponsored a food drive for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, distributed homecoming dresses to girls in foster care, served as a sponsor for a girls CYO state basketball tournament, donated to United Way’s Bridges Out of Poverty program and awarded scholarships to college students. Plans are in the works for a project to feed the hungry in partnership with the American Red Cross.
“The foundation has given us an opportunity to share her story. She should be the one getting the award because she really did care for those that we call ‘the least of these.’ We have been so blessed to have two wonderful children,” Thomas Teodosio said. “For as young as she was, I learned so much about how to live. Andrea was so nonjudgmental.”
The Teodosios said their faith and the support of the community have given them the strength to cope with the tragedy of losing their daughter. Their faith, they said, is also the source of their commitment to treating everyone who comes before them — Judge Linda Teodosio in Summit County Juvenile Court and Thomas Teodosio in Summit County Common Pleas Court — with dignity.
Nanci Self, who nominated the couple for the award, said she did so because of their unselfish commitment to making the community a better place and how they turned their tragedy into something positive. Self serves as director of the Nazareth Housing Development Corp.
“I really don’t know them very well, but I am so impressed with their service to the community and with their union as a couple that is choosing to work well together. When they lost their daughter, their response was to be of service to the community,” Self said. “They live out their faith with a willingness to go into dark places where the light really needs to shine.”
In addition to awarding the Teodosios with the Cosgrove Award, the Catholic Commission will honor the Emancipated Youth Task Force of Summit County Children’s Services and Sally Reidle, of the First Friday Club of Greater Akron, with the Bishop Anthony M. Pilla Leadership Award.
The Pilla award is named for the bishop emeritus of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese. It is given to individuals or groups working to bring the community together around a common cause.
Reidle is being honored for her longtime volunteer service to numerous church and community organizations, including Loyola of the Lakes, National Council of Catholic Women, Ronald McDonald House of Akron, United Way of Summit County, Leadership Akron and Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish. She is a founding member of the First Friday Club of Greater Akron and continues to serve as vice president of its board.
The First Friday Club is a Catholic organization that seeks to promote a better understanding of issues that affect church, family, work and community life.
The Summit County Emancipated Youth Task Force was established in 2009 by Summit County Children Services. It brings together more than 50 community agencies to help youth who age out of the agency’s custody. It developed the purple umbrella decal to identify places that help emancipated youth.
Youth Justice awards will be given to the parents of the late Danielle Rose and to Anthony Burns, a student at Archbishop Hoban High School and a parishioner at St. Sebastian Parish in Akron.
Burns earned an award for his time in service to others and for promoting respect, empowerment and service to the poor. He volunteers at South Street Ministries and the Catholic Worker’s Peter Maurin Center.
Rose, a graduate of Walsh Jesuit High School and parishioner at Holy Angels Parish in Chagrin Falls, died of a heart attack in September at the age of 20. At that time, she was a second-year student at John Carroll aspiring to become a doctor who would serve as a missionary to the poor. She is being honored posthumously for her missionary work and service to the poor through the Labre and Arrue societies at the university.
“Danielle’s heart was oriented to the service of the poor and those most in need. ... she died with a Bible on her bed stand and two rosaries at her side,” said the Rev. Daniel F. Schlegel, pastor at Holy Angels. “As my youth pastor stated the evening of the funeral, ‘I think Holy Angels had the funeral of a saint today.’ ”
All of the awards will be presented during the Catholic Commission’s annual dinner at the Father Silva Center at St. Matthew Parish, 2603 Benton St., Akron. Tickets are $40 per person. Reservations can be made by calling 330-535-2787 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The commission is celebrating its 40th anniversary and the 100th anniversary of Cleveland Catholic Charities.
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or email@example.com