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Catholic Charities’ honorees have history of community service

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Staff reporter

WILMINGTON — A pair of executives from Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware, Timothy J. Constantine and William E. Kirk III, will be honored for their dedication to community service with the Msgr. Thomas J. Reese Award at Catholic Charities’ Annual Tribute Dinner on April 2. Bishop Malooly will present the award at the Chase Center on the Riverfront.

The award is named after the former community activist and executive director of Catholic Social Services, the predecessor to Catholic Charities. It recognizes people who have demonstrated a commitment to restoring and promoting the well-being of people.

Timothy J. Constantine (left), president of Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield Delaware, and William E. Kirk III, vice president and corporate secretary of Highmark, will be honored at the April 2 Catholic Charities’ Tribute Dinner. (The Dialog/Mike Lang)

Constantine is the president, and Kirk the vice president and corporate secretary, of Highmark in Delaware. The pair said their community-service work fits in with their company’s philosophy and their personal beliefs.

“We have become part of the community, and it’s very important to the board of directors and to the company overall,” Constantine said. “I certainly feel very fortunate, and part of my role and responsibility is to give back to the community and to volunteer.”

He has taken a particular interest in the United Way, where he is immediate past chairman of the board. That work has involved learning about the challenges the community is facing and what can be done by individuals and by society to remedy those issues.

Constantine, 50, and his wife, Noreen, came to Delaware in 1993 when he went to work at St. Francis Hospital. He joined Blue Cross Blue Shield in 1997, was named president in 2001 and CEO in 2007. In addition to the United Way, he is on the board of Wesley College, the Delaware Business Roundtable and the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce.

A member of St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Hockessin, he is a longtime basketball coach in the parish’s Catholic Youth Ministry program. His professional and community involvement keeps him quite busy, but his parish work has allowed him to integrate his volunteer work with his family, which he appreciates.

“My wife and family have been very supportive and have been involved. They’ve been able to actually, in some cases, be part of the volunteer effort as well,” he said.

Kirk has been with Blue Cross Blue Shield since 1980, and it was through his work as the company’s general counsel that he became involved with the Diocese of Wilmington. In 1989, he was lobbying on a bill before the state General Assembly. Catholic Charities, represented by former Charities director Dick Prior, was on the opposite side.

“We really got to know and like each other at that time. So a couple of months after the battle was over, he called me and asked if I would consider joining the board of Catholic Charities,” said Kirk, a graduate of St. Mary Magdalen and Salesianum schools, as well as St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and the University of Virginia’s law school.

He served on Catholic Charities’ board for nine years, including two as chairman. He is a trustee of the Catholic Diocese Foundation, the current chair of the Diocesan Review Board and a member of the diocese’s public policy committee.

Kirk, 63, also was a Boy Scout troop leader for 20 years.

He and his wife, Hazel, members of Cathedral of St. Peter Parish, have two sons, a daughter and a grandchild.

When he heard he was a Reese Award winner, he thought there was some mistake.

“My first thought was, ‘Surely, I don’t deserve this.’ I look at the list of previous honorees, including some saintly folks like Father Balducelli, Brother Ronald and Sister Jeanne Cashman, as well as some extraordinary lay leaders, and my reaction is that I’m just a really lucky guy and have been in the right place at the right time,” he said.

Kirk said Constantine has fostered an environment at Highmark that encourages community service and commitment to family.

“I’ve really been fortunate that our company’s presidents have encouraged me to be involved with the community, particularly the diocese and some of its interests, Kirk said.

Constantine, a Maryland native who attended John Carroll High School and Loyola (Md.) College, said he was humbled to hear he will be a recipient and honored to be recognized with Kirk.

“Catholic Charities does great work, and I’ve learned a lot over the last several years. We have partnered with Catholic Charities on some initiatives in the community where Highmark has helped fund some of the initiatives, and I’ve been very impressed with the organization and the work they do.”

Both men plan to continue their community involvement.

 

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Charities Tribute Dinner

• April 2 at 5 p.m. Tickets are $185.

More information is available at www.cdow.org/catholic-diocese-of-wilmington-offices-and-ministries/catholic-charities/catholic-charities-tribute-dinner.