The Grand Lodge of Illinois & Wisconsin, Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, celebrated their 93rd Annual Columbus Banquet on Saturday evening, October 7, 2017. The event was held at Villa Brunetti, Franklin Park, IL.
Anna DeLuca, Columbus Banquet Chairwoman, welcomed the guests and introduced the Master of Ceremony for the evening, the Honorable Anthony Calderone, Mayor of Forest Park, Illinois. The MC introduced the Grand Lodge Officers, our honored award recipients, the Consul General of Italy and the Columbus Day Queen as they entered the hall.
Highlighting the evening were the presentation of the 2017 Humanitarian Award and the Columbus Patriot Award. In addition, the Illinois Sons of Italy Foundation awarded eight scholarships to Italian-American students who are continuing their education.
Chef Bruno Abate, founder of the program “Recipe for Change” received the Humanitarian 2017 Award. In his program, Chef Bruno brings his passion for food and fashion to young men from the Cook County Jail. The program provides art education as well as culinary education, job skills training and mentoring to instill the value of work and personal responsibility to the inmates. Restoring the basic human dignity typically stripped from those incarcerated in the American prison system is essential if we want those affected to become productive members of society after their release. The program provides the young men upon their release a second chance to prove themselves into society.
The 2017 Columbus Patriot award was presented to the Honorable Anthony DeLuca, State Representative of the 80th District. Mr. DeLuca was instrumental in passing legislation to preserve Columbus Day in the state of Illinois. DeLuca is a strong voice for his constituents living in the 80th district. He continues to push state government to be more transparent while fighting for measures that will expand the development in the region with the goal of creating more good paying jobs. He supports term-limits and fair redistricting to make state government more accountable to those it serves. Rep. DeLuca served as a member and president of the Bloom Township High School District 206 Board of Education for eight years and mayor Chicago Heights for six years before being elected a state representative.
In presenting the awards, Grand Lodge President Marie Marsalli, remarked “Both gentlemen truly deserve being honored by OSIA and they demonstrate their true love and passion for their Italian heritage and culture in their daily lives. They serve their community and country with pride, respect and dignity.”
Receiving the Mayor Ronald M. Serpico Melrose Park Sports and Family Benefit Fund scholarship was Jared Blair, son of Timothy and Veronica Blair; Gianna Politano, daughter of Ralph and Denise Politano, received the Leone d’Oro Lodge #2700 scholarship in memory of Joseph Caldarone; Lucas D’Antonio, son of Mario and Elizabeth D’Antonio, received the Americo Vespucci Lodge #1722 scholarship in memory of its deceased members; Megan Vallance, daughter of Gary and Lena Vallance, received the Southwest Lodge #2558 scholarship; Nina Venziano, daughter of Tyler (deceased) and Laura Venziano, received the Law Offices of Salvi Schostok & Pritchard P.C. scholarship; Timothy Behland, Jr., son of Timothy and Cheryl Behland, received the Leone d’Oro Lodge #2700 and the IL. Sons of Italy Foundation scholarship; Dominique Rose Alioto, daughter of Chantal Gouacide and Ann Francis Alioto, received the Filippo Mazzei Greater Milwaukee Lodge #2763 scholarship; and Mary Pasko, daughter of Robert and Victoria Pasko, received the Filippo Mazzei Greater Milwaukee Lodge #2763 scholarship.
Attending the banquet were his Excellency Giuseppe Finocchiaro, Consul General of Italy, and his wife; Gianna Ruiz-Tuminello, Columbus Queen; JoAnn Serpico, JCCIA Executive Director; Col. Renato Bacci; Col. Robert Ruffolo; Rev. Jon Belmonte, OSIA Chaplain; Grand Lodge officers, lodge presidents and members from the filial lodges.
Entertainment for the evening was provided by Nino Folino. Mr. Folino’s performance of the American and Italian anthems was outstanding.
Photos by Tim Townsend