CYO presents first Woman of the Year Award
Dr. Katherine Soss Prihoda expressed deep humility in receiving the Mercer County Catholic Youth Organization’s first Woman of the Year Award.
“I admit that I was a bit surprised when I learned about my nomination,” said Soss Prihoda, who has had a lifelong affiliation with the CYO. “Without false modesty, I would rather be behind the scenes helping an organization that has been so dear to me and my family for so many years.”
Soss Prihoda, a member of Sacred Heart Parish, Trenton, was presented with the award during the CYO’s recent annual Golf Classic held at the Mountain View Golf Course, West Trenton. The event has served as a benefit for the CYO for years and has cumulatively raised several hundred thousand dollars for capital improvement projects at the CYO’s various sites, to purchase new school buses/vans and to support operating expenses.
Soss Prihoda explained that she and her siblings, Karen and John, have been active in the CYO since childhood and that her involvement continued over the years.
“Throughout my life, I have always met people who inspired me, and being part of the CYO spurred my commitment to others at an early age. I witnessed firsthand the dedication the CYO has had to the community, and I wanted to be part of that and serve the community that shaped me as a child,” said Soss Prihoda, who grew up attending Holy Cross School, Trenton, and St. Anthony High School, Hamilton. As an adult, she continued to volunteer with the CYO, and her four children have also worked for various CYO programs.
“Serving the children of Trenton has been the driving force behind my volunteerism. It’s such a fulfilling experience serving children,” she said.
Soss Prihoda recalled that basketball and cheerleading were the top programs offered by the CYO in the 1960s and 70s when she was a child. Today, however, the organization has grown.
“It is a community partner serving the greater Trenton, Hamilton and Ewing areas with preschools, after-school programs, food banks, summer camps and so much more,” she said, noting that she is honored to currently serve as vice chair of the CYO board of trustees.
Soss Prihoda also runs the Christmas toy drive each year, and she said she is happy to apply her nursing background by serving on the health advisory board and initiating a health education program between the CYO preschools and the Rutgers School of Nursing in Camden, where she works as the divisional chair of the graduate nursing program. Graduate students, she said, conduct health screenings for CYO children as well as provide education in yoga, water and fire safety.
“I am so proud to be part of an agency that makes a difference in the lives of so many,” she said.
Tom Mladenetz, CYO executive director, noted how the organization has grown in the past 25 years. In 1994, he said, the CYO operated on $500,000; today it is $5 million. The full-time staff increased from seven to 40 and there are another 170 part-time and seasonal staff who work between the five sites.
“Most importantly, this growth has allowed us to serve more children and families,” he said, citing there are more than 1,200 children served daily and that’s not counting the more than 1,000 who attend the traditional CYO athletic leagues.
“This is all because of a dedicated team of staff members and amazing volunteers on our board and various committees,” Mladenetz said. “People like Dr. Soss Prihoda are key to the success of the CYO.”