A Tradition of Holiday Cheer

Behind the scenes of every Catholic Charities of Onondaga County (CCOC) program and department is a unique group of employees who carry out the agency’s purpose. More than that, they believe in it. When Mike Caruso was asked to put together a delicious meal to serve the more than 300 employees who represent the organization, he considered it a no-brainer.

As a supervisor on the operations team, Mike’s day-to-day is rarely the same. One can find him doing a little bit of everything. Whether it is fixing HVAC issues, moving office furniture or coming in early to add a festive decor to the main entryway, Mike can be found managing various needs for multiple faciltiies. A day set aside to cook up some tried and true dishes is a welcomed assignment.

Mike’s easy “yes” is the result of coming from a family rooted in tradition and community. The Carusos owned and operated Aunt Josie’s, an Italian eatery known for being a staple on Syracuse’s Northside, for 50 years. The people he’s worked with at CCOC for the last seven years remind him of what it felt like to sit under the tutelage of two generations of restaurateurs: entrusted and a part of something bigger than himself.

After helping to feed people for decades, Mike was able to bless his colleagues across various sites and service areas during CCOC’s recent Holiday Lunch. His grandmother’s sauce recipe and his simple ingredient hacks proved to be a hit. Staff enjoyed a spread that included a meatless baked ziti, parmesan chicken, salad, rolls, beverages, and a custom array of desserts.

To this day, Mike’s childhood habit of gifting others with the things he has received remains. With a heart bent towards giving back, he was happy to be of service and help extend a little holiday cheer.

“I love our mission,” said Mike. “To come to work and be around people you love…there’s nothing better.”

Tajuana Cerutti, Communications Manager
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