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Announcing the Creation of the Pino Cicala Archives
at Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center

 

Pino Cicala would have been 93 years old today, June 12, 2020 . His passing three years ago left a void in our Italian American community. To keep his legacy alive, we announce today that Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc. (CISC), will name its archives and virtual collection in memory of Pino Cicala. 
 

The Pino Cicala Archives and Virtual Collection will consist of a core of hundreds of Pino’s files, donated by his son Luigi and his brother Melo Cicala. The files chronicle and record the history of Italian American organizations and their major events in the Washington area for nearly 60 years. Plans are also underway to digitize a large collection of community photographs from the Holy Rosary Church collection for the new archive. 
 

“Pino devoted most of his life in the service of our Italian American community—as a radio host, TV producer and in later years as editor of the Amico web site,” said Francesco Isgro, president of CISC. “We are fortunate that we can safeguard his historical records and share them with our community. We thank Fr. Ezio Marchetto, pastor of Holy Rosary Church and chairman of CISC, for his vision and for providing a place for them in Casa Italiana. The archives are a good complement to the Robert A Facchina Italian American Museum in Washington DC (IAMDC), and the Marconi Project of oral histories.”
 

“My father loved the Italian American community in Washington and all things Italian,” said Luigi Cicala. “I am delighted that his memory will be kept alive at Casa Italiana through this exciting collection.”
 
Melo Cicala stated, “My brother’s life revolved around the Italian American community in Washington and his love for Italy. I could not think of a better place to honor his memory and contributions than by keeping his archives at Casa Italiana.”
 

Cataloguing Pino’s collection and making the materials and photos available online will require financial resources. We hope to raise an initial $50,000 to start the project. To celebrate this announcement, we will hold an official reception in the company of Casa Italiana supporters, and Pino’s many friends, as soon as the pandemic has run its course. 
 

As we begin to work on Pino’s collection, we invite other Italian Americans who may have historical files about our area’s Italian community to consider donating them to the Pino Cicala Archives and Virtual Collection. The archives will be made available to all interested in learning more about the Italian presence in our nation’s capital.  If you would like to donate materials, please contact Nancy DeSanti at nancy.desanti@casaitalianacenter.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CISC Inc. Launches #WeAreOneCommunity Coronavirus Emergency Fund Campaign

 

As the coronavirus continues to challenge our country medically and financially, Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc. (CISC) has set up an emergency fund to help members of our Italian and Italian-American community in the Washington, D.C. area who find themselves in financial distress.

These are extraordinary times and even though we are blessed to live in a fairly stable economic area, many in our immediate community lack the financial resources to support themselves and their families during the prolonged lock down. 

For this reason, CISC has established the #WeAreOneCommunity Coronavirus Emergency Fund to collect donations through this GoFundMe account. Our Coronavirus Charity Committee (CCC) is establishing specific guidelines for identifying affected individuals and disbursing all the funds directly to the recipients.  The guiding principle is to give precedence to community members in the front lines, such as medical workers and first responders. 

The CCC is chaired by CISC Board Member Dennis Santoli, Esq.  Members of the CCC  are currently: Vincenzo (Enzo) Fragomeni, Eileen Parise, Willy Meaux, and Maria Marigliano.  The Committee is working with the support of Holy Rosary Church (the national Italian parish) and representatives of our local Italian and Italian-American organizations to help identify individuals in need.  

“In this unprecedented time, we hope everyone can donate an amount they feel comfortable with, so that we can provide some relief to those in our community who truly need our support during this pandemic,” said CISC  President, Francesco Isgro’.  

Thank you in advance for whatever support you can give.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Protecting the Community

 

We are saddened by the crisis in Italy, where many hundreds of Italians have perished and an entire population has been asked to sacrifice so much.  We have seen how other nations are dealing with the pandemic and have learned some lessons. This is not a time for panic but for preparing ourselves to temporarily change the routine of our daily lives and to take sensible precautions to halt the spread of the coronavirus. 

Our principal efforts should be, not to panic, but to be smart: to protect our community, beginning with our families, our neighbors, and our clubs and associations.  "Social distancing" may be a challenge for those of us accustomed to effusive phyical contact but now is the time to hold back, to avoid crowds, to stay safe and to reflect that just as everything else, this crisis shall also pass.

 

-----Francesco Isgro (Editorial, March 2020 issue of Voce Italana)

 

 

 

2019 - End of the Year Letter to CISC Founders

Dear Founders and Supporters,

 

As the year draws to a close, all of us on the Board of Directors are immensely grateful for your continued and enthusiastic support of the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc. 

 

In 2019, we laid the groundwork for establishing the Robert A. Facchina Italian American Museum in Washington, D.C.  Our plans are to begin the bidding process for the installation of the exhibits early in January 2020, and we look forward to an official opening this spring.  We also continue to develop our Marconi project, recordings of oral histories, and are proceeding on a virtual museum to make the rich and varied history of our community available to a broader audience.

 

This past year, we have also supported a number of cultural events at Casa Italiana, including the commemoration of Giovanni Falcone, the Columbus Day Ceremony, and theatrical performances sponsored by the Casa Italiana Ente Promotore, among other activities. In addition, we Founders have donated funds to name one of the conference rooms in the new building after the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc.

 

The new year will be a very active one at Casa Italiana.  Fr. Ezio Marchetto has indicated that the extension to Casa Italiana should be ready for occupancy in January 2020.   The Italian language classes will then move back from current temporary space on G Street to the new quarters.  In addition to sponsoring and supporting a host of cultural events, we plan to inaugurate an annual gala at Casa Italiana to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to our community.  We will keep you informed about our plans as soon as the dates are finalized.

 

During this Christmas season, we offer a special thank you to Fr. Ezio for his vision of creating an expanded cultural footprint to showcase our community’s contributions to our nation’s capital, and to support heritage enrichment activities at Casa Italiana. 

 

Thank you all, God bless you, and a Happy New Year, on behalf of the Board of Directors of Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc.

 

Francesco Isgro, President & CEO

Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center Inc.

 

 

Vespa Committee Hosts Raduno Breakfast at Casa Italiana

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Vespa, the famous Italian scooter, was in its glory the weekend of Sept 21-22, as the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc., hosted a breakfast for the newly established Vespa Committee of Washington DC. The committee held its annual Raduno {gathering), with the participation of the Vespa Club of Sulmona, Italy represented by its president, Panfilo D'Angelo.

CISC Board Member, Willy Meaux, founded and organized the event, which was established in 2018 as a program committee of the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center. As interest in the Vespa club grew, the Board to establish the committee as a separate organization and the Vespa Committee of Washington DC is now officially a 501(c)(3) Foundation.

The Vespa is an icon of Italian design and culture, and, as Italian Embassy's First Counselor Domenico Bellantone said at the breakfast event, “Four wheels can move your body, a Vespa can move your soul.” President of Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc., Francesco Isgro’ said, "We look forward to supporting the Vespa Committee of Washington DC's exciting activities and know they will have great success.” Shown at Casa Italiana was Piaggio’s new model, “Vespa Elettrica,” courtesy of La Moto of Washington, DC. The breakfast was catered by Simonetta's Pappa Fresca.

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At Casa Italiana Language School, we believe learning the Italian language and culture should be fun. With courses designed to engage our students and let them learn effortlessly, Casa Italiana promises to deliver an experience beyond the basic process of learning. Read more

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Casa Italiana Language School/Ente Promotore e` un'organizzazione senza scopo di lucro il cui obiettivo consiste nel promuovere lo studio della lingua e cultura italiana nella circoscrizione consolare di Washington D.C.  A questo scopo riceve contributi dal Governo Italiano attraverso il Ministero degli Affari Esteri e opera in stretta collaborazione e sotto la supervisione dell'Ufficio Scuola dell'Ambasciata d'Italia.  Read more

The Marconi project is an effort by the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center to capture the memories and experiences of Italian immigrants in the greater Washington D.C. area.  By sharing their rich history and stories we plan to preserve those memories digitally and make them available for generations to come. Read more 

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Plans Unveiled for the Robert Facchina Italian American Museum of Washington D.C.

At a recent brunch for the Founders of Casa Italiana, Fr. Ezio Marchetto, as the Chairman of the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc., updated guests on the organization's future programs and projects, and unveiled the plans for the new Robert Facchina Italian American Museum of Washington DC (IAMDC).

 
The mission of the museum is to preserve the legacy left by Italians and Italian Americans in the Nation’s Capital, and to showcase the community’s rich Italian cultural heritage. The museum is made possible through a generous grant from Robert Facchina, who was present at the brunch.


The exhibits will occupy Casa Italiana and eventually four lobby spaces of the new building and will focus on Italians and Italian immigrants who have a direct connection to Washington D.C. Displays will reflect the following themes: how Italians and Italian Americans influenced the design, construction and beautification of Washington D.C.; the lives, struggles and achievements of Italian immigrants in the Washington D.C. area; the creation and historic evolution of Holy Rosary Church and Casa Italiana; an exhibition gallery showing the works of local Italian and Italian American artists. IAMDC will also include the Marconi Project, a series of oral histories of Italian Americans in the community.

 
The pace of construction of the new buildings has picked up and may be completed this fall. Museum organizers are seeking potential donations of historic materials pertaining to local immigrant families (old tools, uniforms, photos, documents, military medals, etc.), as well as works of art (paintings, mosaics, ceramics, sculpture, jewelry, etc.) by local artists for display in the new art gallery. 


Potential donors are asked to contact Fr. Ezio Marchetto at ezio.marchetto@gmail.com or Liz DiGregorio at louiserayburn@yahoo.com. 
(Source: Voce Italiana June 2019)

Plans Underway for the Robert Facchina

Italian American Museum of Washington DC (IAMDC)

Plans for conceptualizing and designing the new CISC Italian American Museum of Washington DC (IAMDC) are proceeding smoothly. The opening is tentatively scheduled for later this year but is dependent on the pace of construction on the new building.

 

Exhibits will eventually occupy the lobby areas in the new building and Casa Italiana. The first floor lobby will be dedicated to the legacy that Italians and Italian Americans have left in the design, construction and beautification of Washington DC. The second floor lobby will recount the lives, struggles and successes of immigrants to the area. The history of Holy Rosary Church and the community around it will be the focus of the third floor lobby,  and the fourth floor lobby will be an exhibition area, showing works of art created by local Italians and Italian Americans. 

The IAMDC planning team, shown below, has engaged the services of DFDesignStudio, which has worked with a number of major museums in DC, to help plan and design the IAMDC spaces and create a consistent branding strategy.

End of the Year Update

 

Dear Friends of Casa Italiana,

As 2018 draws to a close, I would like to update you on our progress in constructing a   financial foundation for the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, as well as to thank you for your interest in supporting our mission “to promote and preserve the Italian American heritage for future generations in the greater Washington, DC area.”
 
Since our incorporation in June, 2017, we Board Members have worked on a voluntary capacity to build an endowment fund for Casa Italiana to sustain its work into the future. Last year we established the Founders Capital Fund, to which donors pledge $5,000 payable within three years. We are pleased to say that we are now very close to accomplishing our initial goal of raising $500,000 from 100 Founders. To date 85 Founders, whose names will be etched on the wall of the new building, have entrusted us to carry out our mission.
 

We are especially grateful to entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert Facchina, who has generously gifted $250,000 to establish an Italian American Museum (IAMDC) at Casa Italiana. Named in his honor, the museum will focus on contributions by Italians and Italian Americans in the greater D.C. area. We think it’s fitting that our opening project, The Marconi Project, preserves and shares experiences of local Italian immigrants, making their rich histories available for generations to come.
 

Earlier this year, in our first sponsored cultural event, we hosted Italian musicians Trio Dante, who performed classical Italian music to an audience of 100 delighted guests. The first weekend in December, we sponsored the Bella Italia Market, a showcase of quality Italian products and services. The two-day event attracted about 1,400 visitors to Casa Italiana’s halls, fostering considerable goodwill among friends, neighbors and many who were not aware of Casa Italiana’s presence. The event also raised more than $12,000 to support planned future programs.
 

None of this would have been possible but for the vision of Fr. Ezio Marchetto, Pastor of Holy Rosary Church, and Chairman of the Board of Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center. In the midst of the huge Capitol Crossing development, Fr. Ezio saw a unique opportunity to establish a separate non-profit entity to promote and preserve our Italian-American legacy.

The excitement is building as the opening of the expanded Center is now expected in early fall 2019. To reach our goal of 100 Founders we still need pledges from 15 additional donors for $5,000, payable within three years. We are certain that with supportive friends like you we will soon reach our goal. We are excited about this ambitious and worthy project, and hope that you will join us in the “Founders Club.”

On behalf of our Casa Italiana family, we wish you a blessed Christmas season and a wonderful 2019.
 

Mille grazie,


Francesco Isgrò 
President & CEO

fisgro@casaitalianacenter.org

 

 

Bella Italia Market Brings Best of Italy to Casa Italiana

More than 1,000 visitors enjoy the unique cultural experience

 

It took a village to make the Bella Italia Market a huge success -- nearly 50 members of the community volunteered hundreds of hours of their time toward organizing and assisting at the event, held to benefit future heritage, educational and cultural programs sponsored by the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc. 


From an idea initiated and executed by local fashion designer Franca Bartoli to bring Italian excellence to our nation’s capital, and nurtured for nearly two years by a dedicated core group of volunteers, the market of Italian creativity became a reality this past weekend at  Casa Italiana. A ribbon-cutting ceremony opened the Bella Italia Market with Fr. Ezio Marchetto making welcoming remarks.  Domenico Bellantone, First Counselor for Consular and Social Affairs of the Italian Embassy,  delivered brief remarks and inaugurated the Market by cutting the ribbon. Also present was Francesco Isgrò, president of the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc., which sponsored the event.


The Market was made possible with the help of generous sponsors and donors, including Bethesda Travel Center LLC, La Moto of Washington DC, NIAF, the Lido Civic Club, the Abruzzo and Molise Heritage Society, Cafe Milano, IULM University in Milan, IDI Group Cos., Marco Stilli, and Dario Zucchi. 


A Fashion Show, organized by Franca Bartoli and sponsored by Bethesda Travel Center, featured upscale designs by Amina Rubinacci, Anna Gobbi, Melitta Paterni, and Franca Bartoli.

 
The nearly 40 vendors and exhibitors included Dolci Gelati, The Italian Store, several ceramics importers and designers, artists and jewelry designers, fashion house Amina Rubinacci, fragrance company Santa Maria Novella, and other purveyors of fine Italian products and services. La Moto of Washington DC brought several Vespas for display, including the famous Piaggio's Aprilia model.


Casa Italiana thanks all the volunteers who worked diligently for more than one year to ensure the success of the Bella Italia Market. Their hard work paid off -- more than 1,000 visitors attended the Market, creating an exuberant atmosphere in the halls of Casa Italiana, just as the organization prepares to enter a new phase of expansion and increased programs to help perpetuate the Italian culture, heritage and language in the Washington, DC area.

IAMDC

 

 

CISC Founders Honored at Reception;

Robert Facchina Announces Donation To Fund  Italian American Museum of DC (IAMDC)

 

A cocktail reception was held on Saturday September 22 honoring donors to the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center’s Capital Founders Fund. The donors have given or pledged to give $5,000 to support ongoing and future operations of Casa Italiana.

 

Dr. Joseph Lupo, the outgoing President of the Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center (CISC) welcomed the over 70 guests to the reception and thanked the Board members for their work since the CISC was formally established in June 2017.

 

Fr. Ezio Marchetto, Chairman of CISC, presented a slide show outlining the plans to expand the footprint of Casa Italiana and updating the donors on some of the projects that are underway, including the establishment of an Italian American Museum (IAMDC) focused on contributions by Italian Americans in the Nation’s Capital and the surrounding area. As part of that effort, CISC has launched the Marconi Project, directed by Willy Meaux and Tom Sweeney, which will collect oral histories of Italian Americans in the Washington area. William Sansalone, who participated in the project, noted the importance of creating such an archive. James Cocco, Executive Vice President of Finance and Treasurer, gave an update on the financial health of CISC, noting that we currently have 71 Founders and that we plan on reaching the goal of 100 by the end of the year.

 

Fr. Ezio then announced that entrepreneur and philanthropist Robert Facchina would be making an initial contribution to establish the IAMDC, which will bear his name. Mr. Facchina, who attended the reception with his spouse Susan, then presented a check for $125,000 that evening, with a similar amount to arrive in the near future.

 

Board Corporate Secretary, Tina Maiolo, Esq., then introduced Board Member Francesco Isgro', Esq., announcing that he was the newly-elected President of CISC. In his remarks, Isgro thanked the members of the Founders Club for their support and Robert Facchina for providing the initial financial resources for the museum, which will provide “the means to ensure that our Italian and Italian-American traditions are

 

passed down to the next generation, because we know that without the past there is no future.”

As the first order of business, Robert Facchina and Francesco Isgro' jointly signed the Gift Agreement outlining Mr. Facchina’s $250,000 total contribution to the Italian American Museum in DC.

Francesco Isgro and Robert Facchina sign gift agreement

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Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc. is an IRC 501(c)(3) public charity as designated by the Internal Revenue Service.   All donations to Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc. and the Founders Capital Fund are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.  For additional information, please contact:  Jim Cocco, Treasurer, Casa Italiana Sociocultural Center, Inc. 595 Third Street, NW Washington, DC 20001.

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