To say that Jackie Thibault is a social being is an understatement. She loves to be with people so much that she basically runs two bowling leagues, works at Utica Comets games, is on the Social Committee in our parish, volunteers at the parish festival and helps take care of her grandchildren, including taking them to hockey and soccer games. She continues to do all that despite her battle with cancer.
You’ve lived in Utica your whole life — and on the same street. What do you like about the area?
East Utica was my comfort zone. My school, church and where I shopped were all in the area or close by. Neighbors are friendly and family oriented.
Lots of young people can’t wait to leave the area. What reason would you give them to stick around?
There is so much to do on any given weekend in the surrounding area — plays, concerts, fundraisers, sporting events, and food and beverage tastings. We have so many things and they are more personal because you most always see someone you know. More money for fancy jobs does not always mean happiness. Comfortable income, family and friends are more important.
You are a secretary/treasurer for a 72-member co-ed bowling league and an 18-member ladies league. That seems like a lot of work.
I have been a league secretary for over 30 years. I like being with people and don’t mind the paperwork. I like to encourage all bowlers that it is not winning games but having fun and being with other people. My philosophy about bowling is “it’s cheaper than therapy.” Oh, and I get to be in charge.
You’ve been a bowler most of your life. How did you get into the sport?
My parents bowled at the Madison on Kossuth Avenue. I would go with them every week to watch. They always had fun and time to visit with friends and family. I started bowling in high school through the CYO program on Sunday mornings with my friend Alice Mary (Gerace) Zane. I then joined a women’s league that my mother was on. Haven’t stopped since.
As a grandparent, you keep busy with youth hockey, soccer games and Learn to Skate programs. Does it seem like your reliving your early years as parents?
Definitely, only I’m not the one doing team snacks or washing uniforms. It’s fun to watch the games and it gets you outside.
What are your thoughts about being a grandparent?
I love it. You can teach, guide, talk, laugh and then send them home.
You have been raised at Mount Carmel, as you say from “Day One.” What is it about this parish that you love so much?
The closeness of everyone. We are a solid family group. Everyone is always encouraging and supportive. We have different strengths, some more into spiritual and others into community life.
You also volunteer a lot — at the festival, at Mass and on the Social Committee. Why do you do it?
First, for the love of my church. If we don’t all do something, eventually nothing will happen. Second, I love to socialize and be with good, happy people. Volunteering to be on committees and such helps take you away from everyday routine and problems.
What reason would you give a newcomer to become part of our parish family?
We are a very versatile group who has a strong faith in God, family, friends. We enjoy our Mass services and the celebration of our holidays, and don’t forget the socializing.
You recently have been undergoing treatment for cancer. When you were first told about it, what went through your mind?
Everything. My husband, my family, my mother. I was in shock for a while.
Once you confronted your diagnosis, how have you summoned the strength to carry on?
My oncologist was very informative and spoke in clear English words. It was not as bad as first thought and he was very confident that treatments would work. The support from family, church family, bowlers and co-workers at the Aud has been truly unending
Some people would ask God, “Why me?” What was your response?
I thought about that, but held my faith and I talk to God every night. I believe that He only gives you what will make you stronger.
What has this setback taught you about?
Don’t procrastinate. Do what makes you happy when you want to do it. Think positive and be surprised and overwhelmed at the support you get from all those around you. My husband has truly been my rock.
JACKIE (MANCUSO) THIBAULT
Family: Married to Bill for 37 years, daughter Cathy, grandchildren Connor, Bella, Jessie.
Education: Mount Carmel and St. Francis DeSales High School.
Occupation: Did office work and then stay-at-home mom; now, stay-at-home grandma.
Things you like to do: Cook, shop with Bill, casino, travel and be with grandchildren and family.
Favorite movie: “Sound of Music.”
Favorite TV show: “NCIS.”
Favorite musician: Reba.
Favorite quote: “If you can’t change it don’t worry about it.”