Burgio club on the upswing since pandemic

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The Burgio Woman’s Club at the Italian American Veterans Museum

Like other social clubs felled by the worldwide pandemic, the Burgio Woman’s Club could have dissolved in recent years. Instead, the 71-year-old nonprofit organization based in the Chicago area is experiencing a resurgence of new activity.

“Our members really worked hard to keep it moving forward, and now we are stronger and more active than ever before,” says club President Annmarie Parisi. “It is a community of women, brought together for the love of our town of Burgio and Sicily. We share friendships, family, history and traditions, and also want to learn more and keep alive the customs that we were raised with.”

Established in 1953, the Burgio Woman’s Club is dedicated to building relationships, keeping culture and traditions alive, and helping others through philanthropic endeavors. The club currently has 27 members, including one in downstate Peoria.

Parisi joined the club in 1991 after graduating from college, and over the years has held the positions of treasurer, secretary and vice president.

“I joined because I wanted to learn more about the village of Burgio, Sicily, in the province of Agrigento where my father, Nino Golino, and my maternal grandfather, Giuseppe Provenzano, were born,” she explains. “I wanted to form relationships with other Burgitani, learn the customs, the traditions, and learn the language. I wanted to be with other women who loved their Italian/Sicilian heritage as much as I do.”

Parisi, who works in member services for the American Academy of Dermatology, lives in Arlington Heights with her husband, Joe, an attorney. The couple have two sons who recently graduated college. Her father-in-law, Alberto, also was born in Burgio, and her mother-in-law, Carole, was a longtime member and past president of the Burgio Woman’s Club.

The club changed its bylaws in 2023 to open up membership to friends and family members, and to those with an interest in Burgio, with board approval and through a current member’s sponsorship. “This has helped us to grow our organization and welcome those who might be interested in attending our events,” Parisi explains.

The first Cocktail Social took place last year, with family, friends and acquaintances invited to learn about the club and its future goals. The second edition of the Cocktail Social is planned for Sept. 20.

This year, the club joined the Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans and visited Casa Italia. “Both of these are excellent organizations. We are looking to have more affiliations with other Italian/Sicilian groups,” Parisi says.

The public will be invited to the club’s St. Joseph Table in March. This year’s event featured homemade dishes based on family recipes, such as St. Joseph bread, frittata, pasta con sarde, fried baccala, biscotti and more. Next year, the club also plans to invite the public to some fundraisers, Parisi says. “Our goal for the future is to have opportunities to invite the public to our upcoming events.”

The club meets on the third Tuesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. at D’Agostino’s Pizza and Pub, 7530 W. Oakton St., at the corner of Oakton Street and North Milwaukee Avenue in Niles. The monthly meetings are open to members and invited guests, and anyone who wishes to learn about the club.

There are also monthly outings and events for members, so they can enjoy each other’s company and friendship, Parisi says.

One day soon, the club would like to plan a trip for its members to Burgio, which boasts churches from the 1,400s and 1,500s; the Castello di Burgio, thought to date back to the 12th century; a bell foundry; and ceramic workshops as well as the Museo della Ceramica di Burgio.

Such a trip would give members the priceless chance to walk the streets of their ancestral town and immerse themselves in its rich history and culture, says Parisi. She has traveled to Burgio three times and still has an aunt and cousins who live there.  “Each time I go, I feel a deeper sense of connection and pride for our town,” she says.

The Burgio Woman’s Club’s current officers are Anna Silvio Piecuch, vice president; Maria Silvio Raimondi, treasurer; Maria Sammartino Woltmann; director of marketing and special events and corresponding secretary; and Lorene Laubach, recording secretary. Its current board members are Giovanna Loiotile Bacino, Rosemary Vaccaro Ferrantelli and Mary Ann Wendell Wieczorek. Its immediate past president is Calogera Linda Buscemi.

“I’m proud to say that our organization has survived for 71 years,” Parisi says. “Many of our members have had family members that have passed away that are part of the club’s history, and we continue to grow our legacy into the future together. “

Anyone interested in joining the Burgio Woman’s Club, or who wants to learn more about the customs and traditions of Burgio and Sicily, can contact Burgiowomansclub@gmail.com.

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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