March 12, 2024

Pat Byrne, an enthusiastic Bread for Life volunteer since 2015 was voted Chairman of Bread for Life’s Board of Directors at Tuesday’s board meeting.  Byrne enjoyed a 35-year career that included management stints at Catholic Charities in New Jersey, the Center for Children and Families at Rutgers and the New Jersey Division of Youth and Family Services.  He retired in 2011 and moved to Southington.

Byrne replaces Mike Soltys, who has served as Bread for Life’s Chair since the spring of 2014, during a transformative era for the organization.   Soltys will remain on the organizations’ Board as “Chairman Emeritus”.

Other officers elected Tuesday night are Karen Leary as Vice Chair, Bill Palmieri as secretary and Sue Widuch, who will continue as treasurer.

Byrne joined Bread for Life’s Board in 2021 and has been the board’s secretary since 2022.  He was named “Volunteer of the Month” in August 2017.  Pat also served two years at Treasurer of the ARC of Southington.

“I am honored and humbled by being selected as the Board Chairperson,” Byrne said.   “Being a very-active volunteer at Bread for Life for more than eight years, I know firsthand that this organization does awesome work for those in need in the Town of Southington.  I am grateful for the BFL leadership, employees, volunteers, and Board Members for not only ensuring that no one goes hungry in the Southington community but also in providing dignity to the clients served.  I’m looking forward to trying to continue the high standard set by Mike in ensuring BFL does all it can in helping those in need for food and other necessary services.”

Bread for Life’s Executive Director Donna Ayer said: “Pat gives 150% each and every day at Bread for Life.  He serves with heart and with great efficiency.  Pat is a true leader who works well with everyone at Bread for Life and is committed to our work and mission.  We are thrilled to have him lead our dedicated team of community leaders who make up Bread for Life’s Board of Directors.  We look forward to Pat’s expertise and energy furthering our mission.”

Mike Soltys added: “Pat has been impressively dedicated to Bread for Life’s mission both as a kitchen volunteer and board member.  He is an excellent choice and, along with an outstanding executive team, will provide leadership as the organization continues to grow.”

Ayer added: “During Mike Soltys’ tenure, Bread for Life has seen enormous growth.  His work to secure funding and building a new facility has been critical for the work of Bread for Life.  Mike’s skills and dedication to Bread for Life has been integral to the wonderful organization that Bread for Life is.  We would not have been able to accomplish all that Bread for Life has become without Mike at the helm.  He has tirelessly shared his time and resources with Bread for Life for the past 14 years and we are a better organization for his commitment.”

Among the highlights of the past decade have been the construction and opening of Bread For Life’s headquarters; the hiring of Ayer and Director of Operations Missy Cipriano; the expansion of many programs including homebound deliveries, Wednesday dinners and Fuel for School; the creation of a vegetable garden on Vermont Ave, and a significant increase in revenue that has allowed BFL to fulfill its mission that no one in Southington goes hungry.