Houseknecht is 'Woman of Distinction'
ALBANY—Virginia “Ginny” Houseknecht of Watkins Glen, a long-time area Cornell Cooperative Extension educator and leader, and founder of the Southern Tier Parkinson’s Disease Support Group, was honored as a “Woman of Distinction” by the New York State Senate, Tuesday, May 15, in Albany.
The Senate’s “Women of Distinction” program, which began in March to coincide with Women’s History Month in New York state, allows senators statewide to select one honoree from their respective legislative districts for this distinguished, statewide tribute.
For 35 years until her retirement in 2005, Houseknecht served as the Family and Consumer Sciences Program Leader for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Schuyler County. She is known across the Southern Tier for her leadership and research-based education in food sciences, nutrition and health, parenting, and financial management.
Shortly after her retirement, Houseknecht was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD). Devastated, yet wanting to do something positive to help others, in 2006 she established the Southern Tier Parkinson’s Disease Support Group with the endorsement and strong support of the Schuyler County Office for the Aging and Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP).
Her motivation to help others has led to the success of this critical support organization, which now provides accurate information, with guest speakers and a resource library, binding relationships, and a strong support network for those in need.
State Senator Tom O’Mara (R-C, Big Flats) noted that since the creation of the Southern Tier Parkinson’s Disease Support Group six years ago, more than 100 area persons with PD and their caregivers have benefitted from Houseknecht’s work as founder and facilitator of the organization.
Barbara Hubbell, director of Community Solutions for the United Way of the Southern Tier, nominated Houseknecht for this year’s “Woman of Distinction” tribute.
“Ginny has always been a distinguished business professional and respected authority in her field,” said Hubbell. “Not surprisingly, to those who know her, the overwhelming effects of Parkinson’s disease have not dampened her spirit or desire to improve the lives of individuals and families in Schuyler County.”