Mauzer steps up to presidency of AICS

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A strong sense of community is a defining feature of the American Italian Cultural Society, according to John Mauzer, who was sworn in as president of the Crest Hill-based social club in December.

“Our membership is one big family dedicated to sharing our Italian culture, teaching traditions and preserving our heritage,” Mauzer explains. “2024 is going to be a busy and exciting year. Our main focus is to give back to the membership and host cultural events.”

Mauzer his wife of 39 years, Angela, live in Joliet and have been members of AICS for eight years. The couple has a son, Matthew, and a daughter-in-law who are also members. In fact, the family’s connection to the social club dates back to its founding in 1988.

“Angela’s father, Raffaele Alberico, along with other members helped build the club,” says Mauzer, who retired from Exelon Generation after 36 years in the power and energy industry. “Her parents were part of the many Italian families that immigrated to America in the 1950s and 1960s.”

The mission of the organization is “to share, educate and celebrate the Italian culture with the membership, Italian descendants and the community” by promoting and encouraging activities with an educational, social, literary or charitable purpose, Mauzer says, noting that anyone can join the social club, regardless of their roots.

“We promote and encourage the study, understanding or understanding all ethnic identities and traditions, and especially the American Italian heritage,” he says.

The group’s biggest event is the annual Festa Italiana in August, which has been voted best festival/local event six years in a row, Mauzer says. “It’s a three-day celebration with entertainment and Italian food,” he says. “On Sunday during the festa we have a mass dedicated to our patron, Saint Maria Santissima Dell’ Assunta, followed by a procession through the surrounding neighborhood.”

The organization’s social center in Crest Hill boasts a full bar with Italian beer and liquor, a TV center with Italian channels, a dining room for up to 120 guests, and a family/library room with games and books.

General meetings take place the first Thursday of the month, and are followed by a traditional Italian snack. “It is not uncommon after a meeting to see members playing Italian cards — scopa or briscola -— or a game of bocce,” Mauzer says. “We have indoor and outdoor bocce courts, and it can get pretty competitive at times.”

The club offers pasta-making classes, bocce tournaments, family nights, picnics, cruises and more. A wine club meets monthly to sample vintages from around the world and discuss wine-making techniques. The club makes its own wine, he proudly notes, and hosts a yearly competition where members bring in bottles of their homemade wines for a panel of judges to vote on.

Fish dinners take place every Friday during Lent, and on the first Friday of the month from September through May. Spaghetti dinners take place on the second Thursday of the month from September to May. “We serve about 700 pounds of spaghetti, 2,300 meatballs, 440 pounds of salad and 180 loaves of bread,” he says. “This truly has been a community event since 1989.”

AICS offers four-year, merit-based scholarships to graduating seniors from a participating high school in the Joliet/Will County area. The first-place recipient receives $1,500 per year for four years, and the second-place recipient receives $750 per year for four years. Applications must be postmarked by March 31, and recipients are honored at AICS’ annual Columbus Day banquet in October.

The social club donates a percentage of its proceeds to “worthy causes, groups, or individuals,” with an application process to determine recipients’ qualifications, Mauzer says.

The AICS social center is located at 1918 Domaur Drive in Crest Hill. For more information. For details, click here.

About Elena Ferrarin

Elena Ferrarin is a native of Rome who has worked as a journalist in the United States since 2002. She has been a correspondent for Fra Noi for more than a decade. She previously worked as a reporter for The Daily Herald in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, The Regional News in Palos Heights and as a reporter/assistant editor for Reflejos, a Spanish-English newspaper in Arlington Heights. She has a bachelor’s degree from Brown University and a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

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