The Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America’s Grand Lodge of Illinois and Wisconsin honored Vito M. D’Ambrosio as Humanitarian of the Year and Angelo “Skip” Saviano as Columbus Patriot at its 94th annual Columbus Banquet on Oct. 6 at White Eagle Banquets in Niles. (708-403-7822)
Vito Mario D’Ambrosio was born in Ricigliano, Salerno, Italy, to Antonio and Rocchina D’Ambrosio. Vito was the second child, Onofrio being the first. In a typical Italian immigrant household, it was almost the norm that the father would come to this country, stay with relatives, acquire a job, save some money to be able to pay their own rent, then send for the rest of the family. Antonio came in 1956 and sent for his wife and sons in 1958. Vito came at the ripe old age of 4 years old, when speaking Italian was not encouraged at home. They came to America to assimilate. They went to the public library by bus for English lessons. Antonio was a carpenter, Rocchina worked as a seamstress for Hart, Schaffner and Marx until it closed. She then went on to work for Ferrara Bakery on Taylor for many years.
Eventually, the family moved to Taylor and Bishop Street. Vito attended Our Lady of Pompeii Grade School when Fr. Gino Dalpiaz was pastor, graduated in 1968 and attended St. Ignatius College Prep. The family moved to Taylor and Leavitt in 1968. Life was fun but very difficult, having to walk many days from Leavitt Street to St. Ignatius.
Vito learned the value of hard work at an early age, holding more than one job at many times during his high school and Lewis University years. Vito paid for all his tuition and expenses, and didn’t ask for any support from anyone. The family was stretched with the arrival of Anthony, the third son, in 1966.
Upon graduation from Lewis, Vito married Nancy and had three amazing children, twins Angela and Christina and Anthony, worked at General Motors Fisher Body Willow Springs Plant, and at General Motors Service parts for 34 years, rising to middle and upper management.
One of Vito’s daughters, Christina, received a scholarship from the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame and later from a small 17-member group called the Italian American Executives of Transportation.
It was from the experience of meeting some of the IAET members that he decided to join and give back to the community. Vito became president in 2004 and has been there ever since. In 2005, Frank Accardi proclaimed him president for life, and it certainly seems that way. Today, IAET is about 175 members strong and is actively engaged in the community. IAET has made significant contributions in the areas of education, community service, good relations in the community, and charitable contributions.
Some of the other organizations Vito has served besides IAET President are Executive Director for Casa Italia; Board Member of the Columbian Club of Chicago; and member of the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (SADIA), Italian American Labor Council, Italic Institute, Italian American Veterans Museum, Amici Naperville Italian American Club, Helping Hand Sertoma, Club Maria SS. Incoronata, Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans and the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America.
His community and public service involvements include but are not limited to Den Leader for Cub Scouts, Board of Directors and Coach for Burbank American Little League, Stone Park Soccer League, Burbank Park District, PTA for Kennedy School, Italian Cultural Center, Shrine of Our Lady of Pompeii, Missionary Sisters of St. Charles, Mercy Boys and Girls Home, Orchard Village Home for the Disabled, Midwest Council for Children with Disabilities (MCCD), Valentin Boys and Girls Club, Maryville Academy, Dreams for Kids, Center for Independent Futures (CIF), Resources for Community Living (RCL), Junior Achievement, Chicago Boys Town, SOS Children’s Villages, Misericordia, Make a Wish Foundation, and St. Rita of Cascia.
He currently resides in Westchester with Gail Carey and a couple of spoiled dogs. He also has two grandchildren, James and Nathan, from Angela and James Stanek. He is truly honored and humbled to accept the recognition of the OSIA Humanitarian. Although he has turned down such honors in the past, this one is special in that he sees its potential in uniting the Italian American community.
Angelo “Skip” Saviano has been a trusted and proven leader in the Elmwood Park community for over 25 years. He was elected Village President of Elmwood Park in April of 2013. Saviano was first elected to public office as Leyden Township Supervisor in 1989 and then went on to serve his constituents on the state level until recently retiring as Assistant Minority Leader in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Angelo “Skip” Saviano was regarded as one of the most influential and effective members of the Illinois legislature. His long list of credentials and dedication to public service has earned him distinctive honors in the Illinois General Assembly.
As State Representative of the 77th District, Saviano tirelessly worked on behalf of local governments in his district. Saviano was able obtain funding to assist with the repaving of both local and state-owned roads in Franklin Park, the construction of state-of-the-art police stations in both Northlake and Franklin Park, the upgrading of the water pump house and street lighting in the unincorporated areas of Leyden Township, and numerous other projects.
Locally, Saviano has obtained many state grants to help fund infrastructural projects in the Village of Elmwood Park. Through his leadership, the Village was able to receive state assistance for the street-scaping of the North Avenue corridor as well as the construction and upgrading of the pool, recreation center and the library.
It is because of Saviano’s consistent efforts in sponsoring and supporting legislation to aid the elderly, children and people of all backgrounds, that he has received numerous recognitions including: the “Hero Award” given by the Children’s Place, the Suburban Area Agency on Aging legislative award, NEDSRA – Northeast DuPage Special Recreation Association, and People with Disabilities legislative award, the Leyden Family Services annual award, the Triton College Student Association award, and the Leyden Psychological Rehabilitation’s “Our Champion in Springfield” award. Most recently, Saviano was honored by the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans’ as the “Joseph Cardinal Bernadin Humanitarian of the Year”.
Saviano has committed himself to working on behalf of those with special needs. He has served as the chairman of the West Suburban Special Recreation Association’s (WSSRA) annual “Derby Gala” for twelve consecutive years, and has obtained grants on behalf of the organization from companies such as AT&T.
He was also recognized as a champion for individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder as he was the leading sponsor behind numerous pieces of legislation aimed at protecting their rights.
Saviano is known as a staunch advocate for senior citizens and individuals with special needs and has worked diligently to enhance their lives. As a State Representative, he consistently was a sponsor of senior activities and legislation focused at protecting their well-being; he firmly believes that seniors should not have to struggle to pay their property taxes, utilities, and prescription medication.
Saviano has been a champion of public safety and has received honors including: the Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois award as well as the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police award.
Saviano was born in Chicago, Illinois. His family later moved to Elmwood Park where he attended Elm School. Saviano went on to attend Holy Cross High School in River Grove. He has Bachelor of Arts degree from DePaul University. After graduating, Saviano owned and operated a paralegal service which served many of the top attorneys in the Chicago Metropolitan Area. Saviano is member of St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church and regularly participates in neighborhood activities and volunteer services. He is one of the co-founders of the Taste of Elmwood Park, which is a top rated community festival of local restaurateurs and home-chefs. He is married and has two daughters.