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You may know Justin Appi as Sir Knight Justin Appi, a 4th degree Knight of Columbus. Through the Knights’ Father James F. Donaher Council 3733 in North Haven, Justin works to give back to the community and country he loves. (Photo courtesy of Justin Appi )
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Justin Appi doesn’t take anything for granted.
His life experiences have instilled in him “a strong desire to give back to my community,” he says.
Today, he does so with the title “Sir Knight” in of one of the world’s largest Roman Catholic fraternal service organizations, Knights of Columbus.
As the public relations director for Knights of Columbus Father James F. Donaher Council 3733 in North Haven, Justin has been involved with Knights of Columbus (KOC) for approximately 13 years.
“My public relations work helps to make the Knights of Columbus more visible, which tends to grow the members of councils and assemblies,” said Justin. “The more people we have, the more good we can do.”
Although he has dedicated himself to the mission of this organization by volunteering countless hours of his time, he is quick to point out, “I’m just a small part in a very great organization.
“Everything that we do locally is done worldwide,” he adds.
Justin and his counterparts focus their volunteer work on the organization’s four principles of charity, unity, fraternity, and patriotism.
To help those in need, KOC raises money and supports a variety of different projects.
One way that the North Haven council has recently raised funds is through a tootsie roll drive, outside Stop & Shop.
“One hundred percent of the money we collect is used to benefit people with intellectual and physical disabilities,” said Justin.
Special Olympics is just one of the organizations that benefits from the local council’s charity.
“We not only provide money, but we provide manpower as well,” said Appi.
The North Haven council volunteers at the Special Olympics Connecticut Summer Games held on the Southern Connecticut State University campus.
An upcoming activity of the council includes a Coats for Kids drive that will be held on Friday, Nov. 29 at St. Francis Church on Ferry Street in New Haven.
“We invite parents and children to [the location] and we fit each child with a winter coat to keep them warm for the winter,” said Appi. “We have given out thousands of coats in the state of Connecticut since the program started eight years ago.”
In addition to coats, the council helps provide food to the community.
“We run a food drive at Stop & Shop,” said Appi. “We take all the foodstuffs from the patrons and we bring it to the food bank at the community center.”
This undertaking is especially helpful “at this time of year. It’s Thanksgiving. We take money that was donated, and we buy turkeys and bring them to the community center,” he says.
KOC volunteers also help fortify carnival goers at St. Therese’s annual carnival. This local crew spends its time at the food tent, cooking and serving food for the four-day event.
The North Haven council also works together with the town during its annual fair, coordinating parking during the event.
Justin describes the huge parking area and the importance of keeping the cars in an orderly line, a feat accomplished by a hardworking crew of “30 to 40 volunteers, directing the parking of those cars,” he says.
The town takes a portion of its profits and donates it to the KOC council. In turn, the council will donate that money to various organizations in need.
“All the funds that we get, they come in and [they go] out the door,” said Justin.
This includes the profits from a bus trip to West Point to watch a football game. Monies are donated to the VA Connecticut Fisher House, which supports families of veterans and military service members receiving care at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System.
“Those are some of the things that we do here locally, a lot of little things that add up,” said Justin.
A retired IT professional, Justin worked for various organizations throughout his career including Yale University and Regional Water Authority.
He says that what he enjoys most now is taking all the knowledge he gained throughout his career and applying it to support the mission of KOC, whether its designing email communications or building websites for the organization.
The knowledge “was given to me,” he said. “I worked for it and I’m giving it back, anyway I can. I feel great about it.”
The 2020 guide to the Madison Chamber of Commerce has arrived!