JCCIA has long answered the call

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The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans involvement goes beyond the Italian community. Since 1952 the JCCIA has been the go-to organization for those in Chicago in need of representation from the Italian community. We enjoy this position of leadership and respect. With great pride and self-esteem, the JCCIA takes part in an array of events in Chicagoland. Our umbrella, a unified voice, has earned us this distinct role. Thanks to our great scroll of past presidents, each made the JCCIA their priority during their term. Each exemplifies the meaning of a leader whose goal it is to maintain continuity. We credit these men and women with enlisting others to be active in numerous projects and activities. We respectfully list them here:

Joseph Barbera, 1954-1960 (Deceased); Peter R. Scalise, 1961-1962 (Deceased); Anthony J. Paterno, 1963-1964 (Deceased); V.E. Ferrara, 1965-1966 (Deceased); Dr. Mario Rubinelli, 1967-1968 (Deceased); Victor J. Failla, 1969 (Deceased); Anthony Bottalla, 1970-1971 (Deceased); Charles C. Porcelli, 1972-1973 and 1985-1986 (Deceased); Anthony J. Fornelli, 1974-1975; James E. Coli, 1976-1977 (Deceased); Dr. James F. Greco, 1978 (Deceased); Joseph Tolitano, 1979-1980 (Deceased); James L. Coli, 1981-1982; Jerome N. Zurla, 1983-1984; Carl De Moon, 1987-1989; Dominic Di Frisco, 1990-1994; Stephen Fiorentino, 1995-1969; Louis H. Rago, 1997-1998; Joseph M. Gagliardo, 1999-2000; Vito P. Cali, 2001-2002; Joanne Spata, 2003-2004; Jo Ann Serpico, 2005-2010; Antonio Romanucci, 2011-Present.

For more than 50 years our volunteers have epitomized the qualities and virtues of dedicated persons giving of their time, talents and leadership to make the JCCIA possible. The following are significant cultural programs in the larger community requesting the presence of the JCCIA.

The “Christmas Around the World” presentation held each year at the Museum of Science and Industry with Dr. Carlo Di Nello under the sponsorship of the JCCIA, designs, constructs and displays one of his valuable replicas of an Italian Nativity Scene (First photo below). Since 1952, the JCCIA has participated at this spectacular Christmas exhibit. Hundreds of thousands have viewed the JCCIA involvement. One of the highlights at the museum is the stage presentation of “Christmas in Italy.” Our Italianettes, the dancing troupe for the JCCIA, under the guidance of Marilyn Fredericks, perform in this production each year (Second photo).

The Consul General of Italy, Alessandro Motto, invites the JCCIA to represent Italy in the “Consulates Christmas Trees” at the Winter Wonderfest at the Navy Pier Festival Hall. Our tree representing Italy is exquisitely decorated by Jackie Mazza, Theresa Paterno, Joanne Spata and me. Francesca Salvi makes our La Befana, who is the good witch in Italy carrying presents for good little girls and boys.

Navy Pier also presents “Neighborhoods of the World” at the Crystal Gardens. Bella Italia is presented in partnership with the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and the Consul General of Italy. The JCCIA has been invited to coordinate cultural displays and vendors selling folk art. The JCCIA, Fra Noi, Casa Italia, the Italian American Museum & Library, and the Shrine of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, under the leadership of the JCCIA, presented 10 exhibit and vendor tables for viewing and purchasing by the public.

Since Maria Pappas, Cook County Treasurer, has been elected she has provided the Ethnic Christmas Tree Display in her offices at the County building. The JCCIA is invited each year to decorate this tree. Joanne Spata originally decorated this tree and it has now been taken over by Velda Davino. Our tree shines on the counter of the Treasurer’s office so all who visit her office can admire it. Pictured is the JCCIA president, Antonio Romanucci and Maria Pappas with the counter top tree (Third photo).

In 2010 the Rosebud Restaurant on Taylor Street presented a St. Joseph Table and called upon the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans as consultants to assist them in this traditional and cultural activity. Once again we immediately responded. Dominic Di Frisco and I were interviewed by WGN regarding the history of the St. Joseph Table, which was televised live.

The Mayor’s Office of Special Events, sponsored a ceremony honoring the immigrants who became new citizens in downtown Chicago. The JCCIA was called on for a representative to carry the Italian flag. We called upon Ralph Imbrogno, our sergeant-at-arms, who willing and proudly went downtown and did the honors for this event (Fourth photo).

In honor of Italian Heritage Month, Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans, the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans, the Justinian Society of Lawyers and the judges of the Circuit Court of Cook County invite children of the Chicago Public Schools on a special tour of the Circuit Court of Cook County at the Daley Center. For over the past 10 years the tour highlights have included learning about the trial process and the legal system, visiting a courtroom for the viewing of an actual trial in progress and attending an informative session hosted by a Circuit Court judge, the president of the JCCIA and the president of the Justinian Society of Lawyers.

For 59 years those who are not part of the Italian community have reached out to us for representation at many cultural and civic events requiring the presence of our ethnicity. We proudly and immediately answer the call.

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Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.

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