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Parish volunteers: Always on the go, Gina takes time to enjoy her life

Gina Batson probably doesn’t have time to sleep. She’s always busy working, volunteering, traveling, listening to music, exercising and learning about her Italian roots.

Our parish was built by Italian immigrants, and one of your favorite things is learning Italian traditions. Why do you like to learn about these traditions and what have you learned?

I grew up watching my mother and aunts cook delicious Italian meals and desserts for our family dinners we enjoyed together. Sunday dinner was my favorite day of the week, not only the food, but the Italian music my parents would have playing. My mom would make enough food for a small army and made it with love for all of us to enjoy. 

ABOVE: Gina Batson, with daughter Alana and husband Jeff. In addition to all her activities, Gina loves to volunteer in our parish. “I find it rewarding to volunteer in our parish. My dad always volunteered his time and he set a wonderful example for me.”

As a young child I learned how to make our family favorites of homemade raviolis, braciole, pizza fritta, delicious Italian cookies and all kinds of desserts, to name just a few. When I cook and bake these meals today, I feel close to my family history and take pride that I know how to carry on our family recipes and traditions. It’s very important to me to preserve our heritage.

How are you passing along these traditions to your daughter and others of her generation?

My daughter Alana has participated in our family baking days for the holidays since she was little and also the annual making of our raviolis for a big family dinner. I want her to know how to do these things and appreciate the hard work of those that came before her and show her how important it is to cook for those you love. As a child she would say her Nana’s food tasted the best because it was made with love. 

You enjoy exercising on your Peleton, you downhill ski and you love watching basketball, baseball and hockey. How did you become involved in all these athletic activities?

I was a bit of a tomboy when I was young so I grew up playing sports and watching them on TV with my dad and siblings. I started downhill skiing I was 12. I feel skiing is the best part of winter — you really come to appreciate the beauty of it when you ski and it’s just good for your soul to be out there doing that. I love starting my day with a Peleton ride and working out with some weights. I do this right when I wake up and it’s my time for “me” before I start work. It gives me a motivating way start to my day. 

Why do you enjoy them so much?

I will admit I have always been very competitive when I play sports. I just love the competition of it all, especially when games are close. I absolutely love watching sports live — there’s just nothing like it! March Madness is my favorite time of year. My daughter played three sports all through school and in her early years we coached some of her teams. Now that she is a college athlete playing basketball at SUNY Oneonta, we enjoy going to her games and rooting on her team. There’s just something special about watching a game live and gives me such pride to see her compete at that level. If you want to make me happy, take me to a sporting event.

Your musical tastes range from Frank Sinatra, to Dave Matthews to Bruce Springsteen. Why do you enjoy music so much?

Growing up, my mom always had music on in our house. It’s the one thing that really can lift your spirits even on your worst day. A song can take you back in time to a good memory and even sometimes something sad. It just moves your spirit so much and can change the moment instantly. I am happiest when I have my favorite music on! 

Another love of yours is traveling: Las Vegas, the ocean, New York, Boston. When did you first start traveling and why do you love it so much?

Every year my parents would take us on a wonderful family summer vacation. That’s when I got hooked on being at the ocean. It just makes me think of God’s wonder and beauty when you watch the waves crash in. No matter what you have going on when you stand at the shoreline it gives you a comforting feeling. As a teen I traveled to New York several times a year to Yankee games and shopping trips. I started going to Las Vegas yearly the past 28 years. It’s changed so much over time, but it’s still one of the most fun places to visit. There’s always something happening there and in the cities like New York City and Boston — the vibe of the city life is just fun.

Another love of yours is our parish. You co-chaired the 125th anniversary celebration, are a member of Finance Committee, have been on a collection counting team for more than 20 years, participate on the Parish Festival committee and have sold Buona Fortuna tickets for more than 20 years. You also previously served on Parish Council. Where do you find the time and why do you do it?

I find it rewarding to volunteer in our parish. My dad always volunteered his time and he set a wonderful example for me.

Working full time, raising a child and volunteering at school and in sports didn’t always allow a lot of extra free time, but I always made it work with what the parish needed. I feel the time is well spent and helps our parish family life thrive.

I have made such wonderful friends by volunteering. It just gives me happiness giving of myself in this capacity and hopefully setting an example to others

How important are volunteers in our parish?

Volunteers are crucial to keep our beautiful parish life going. Without them, we would not have what we have come to love here. 

You seem to find the time to volunteer. What’s your advice to someone who might be considering it but is on the fence?

I tell them just try it once and give it a chance. Because I know once they do it, they’ll love it as much as I do and make the time.

When you look at the history of our parish, the hard work and dedication of those that came before us should be a guiding example of how to do it. Especially with our aging parishioners, the younger generation really needs to help out.

How important is our parish in your life?

I feel fortunate to be a part of this parish family. I have made so many caring and wonderful friends here. When you go through difficult times as I recently have with the loss of my brother and my parents, these friends were right there to help and support me through.

My parents raised us with a deep faith and dedication, and I’m thankful for their example. By participating in weekly Mass, volunteering at our events or just taking time to sit in our beautiful church and look around, it truly fills me up with a great feeling of love and peace. There’s not much today in this hectic world that you can say can do that for you. It’s a very important part of my life. 

If you were to describe Gina Batson, how would it read?

Positive outlook, loves a good joke, generous, compassionate, proud of her heritage, loves to make others smile and definitely wears her heart on her sleeve.

Gina (DeCrescenzo) Batson 

  • Age: 51.
  • Family: Husband Jeff, daughter Alana. Daughter of the late Tom and Grace DeCrescenzo.
  • Occupation: Claim support specialist/quality assurance at MetLife.
  • Things I like to do: Spending time with my family, travel, exercising, downhill skiing, watching sporting events, listening to music.
  • Favorite TV shows: I love to watch old sitcoms such as “The Odd Couple,” “Seinfeld,” “The Honeymooners,” “King of Queens,” “Golden Girls” and some Netflix shows.
  • Favorite movies: “Goodfellas,” “Jaws,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Remember the Titans.”
  • Favorite quote: “Every day is a good day; it all depends on your attitude.” My brother Tommy always told me that.