by Richard Caifano
The recently completed 90th annual convention of UNICO National saw Chicago area members rise to prominence in the ranks of the leadership. Glenview resident Michael Veselka was elected as Executive Vice President of UNICO, placing him next in line to assume the office of national president at the UNICO Convention in Ft. Lauderdale that will be held from July 31 to August 4, 2013.
Orland Park’s Paul Domico was re-elected to the position of Midwest Regional District Governor. Domico was also elected to serve a three-year term as a Trustee of the UNICO Foundation, the charitable arm of UNICO National. In addition, Elmwood Park resident Edward Gesualdo was sworn in as District Governor for Illinois District I of UNICO National.
Past UNICO National President Anthony Fornelli has been the driving force behind this resurgence of Chicago members to the forefront of national leadership for this important service organization. Over the past decade, UNICO National’s gifts to charity have exceeded $1 million. In his position as past president, Fornelli has earned the respect and overwhelming support of Unicans throughout the nation on matters of representation, charitable giving and in the direction of UNICO.
UNICO National was founded on Oct. 10, 1922, in Waterbury, Conn. A group of 15 men, led by Dr. Anthony P. Vastola, came together to create what has become a very special organization formed to assist those in need in communities throughout America. It was Dr. Vastola’s dream to create an Italian American service organization to engage in charitable works, support higher education and perform patriotic deeds.
In World War I, the Italian-American community represented only four percent of the entire United States population. Although 12 percent of all Americans casualties during this conflict were Italian American, the loyalty of Italian Americans was questioned. The Sacco and Vanzetti trial was fueled by prevailing sentiment that Italian Americans remained loyal to their former homeland. Our founders wanted to ensure that everyone understood that Italian Americans loved their adopted country and held no allegiance to their native land save traditions and culture.
The name UNICO was selected as best representing the nature and the character of this fledging organization. The name is the Italian word for unique, one of a kind. The founders believed that UNICO would be the only one of its kind because it placed service to the community before and above fraternity. At the same time they hoped that the rest of society would come to know and understand the real contributions of Italian Americans to our way of life. Among its purposes, UNICO was formed to unite Italian Americans and motivate them to become more civic minded in providing service to others.
UNICO has become an acronym that stands for Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity, and Opportunity. WE invite your interest, your support and your membership. For information on how you may become a part of UNICO or how you can provide support to the presidency of Mike Veselka, contact Richard Caifano at firstname.lastname@example.org.