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2020 Fall Letter to Founders and Supporters


Dear Founders and Supporters, 
 

We hope you are all well, despite this challenging pandemic period. We would like to report that lots of exciting things have been taking place at Casa Italiana during the past few months, thanks to our active, all-volunteer Board members and other community volunteers. Here’s a brief update on the status of our projects at Casa Italiana.
 

Italian American Museum of Washington DC (IAMDC)
 

The dream of Fr. Ezio Marchetto to create a museum devoted to the Italian American community in the nation’s capital is becoming a reality. Installation is underway on exhibits for the Robert A. Facchina Italian American Museum of Washington DC, in  three small but beautiful spaces in the new building. Our museum team includes Board Member Liz DiGregorio, and Anna Isgro, together with CISC Chairman Fr. Ezio Marchetto and CEO Francesco Isgro. We will also have two gallery areas on the fourth floor to display and promote local Italian American artists; Liz and Anna have solicited and already received a number of art donations from local artists. 
 

We expect that the museum exhibition areas will be completed within the next few weeks. Our plans are to open the museum for private showings beginning around the end of December and continuing through January 2021. Due to Covid-19 restrictions, we will be limiting the number of visitors at any given time, but will set up a schedule so that all our Founders have the opportunity to visit the museum first.

 
The Marconi Project

 

The Marconi Project Team has been busy recording the personal histories of members of our Italian American community -- from Holy Rosary Church parishioner Tony Volpe, whose firm helped construct the Vietnam Memorial to Ambassador Luigi Einaudi, grandson of the first president of Italy. To date 18 people have been interviewed. Leading this effort are Board members Willy Meaux, Tom Sweeney and Ciro De Falco, with the assistance of Nancy DeSanti.  As you can imagine, this is a costly project and we are seeking additional funding to purchase equipment to support the   ongoing recordings. Those interested in funding the purchase of an item or all of the needed equipment ($10,000), please contact Willy Meaux at  willy.meaux@casaitalianacenter.org.  The project will feature a computer station where visitors can listen to oral histories. We have already received funding from a generous donor to purchase one of the two needed computers. Anyone interested in sponsoring the purchase of the other computer ($1,800 donation), please contact me at:
fisgro@CasaItalianaCenter.org. Your name or your company’s name will be acknowledged on the computer screen.

The Pino Cicala Archives and Virtual Collection

The documentary materials donated by Pino Cicala’s son Luigi, have been organized, transferred into file cabinets and indexed alphabetically. We have received a $5,000 grant from the National Italian American Foundation, and another $5,000 from the Lido Civic Club specifically for the Cicala archives. We will soon be officially announcing a matching donation of $25,000 by Robert A Facchina to support the digitalization of CISC's archived materials and creation of an online public database. We are now scanning photographs from the extensive Holy Rosary Church collection, as well as all the published issues of Voce Italiana. We would also like to thank those of you who generously donated early family photographs and memorabilia to the CISC archives and museum.

 

Investment Committee 

 

We have established an Investment Committee to draft CISC’s investment policy and to monitor our investments so that we can be good stewards of your generosity. The committee is chaired by Board Member Ciro De Falco, and includes Treasurer Jim Cocco and Board Member Dennis Santoli. 

 

The #WeAreOneCommunity COVID Fundraiser

 

This past spring, we established the #WeAreOneCommunity Coronavirus Emergency Fund to collect donations, through this GoFundMe account, for individuals in our community who have been financially affected by the pandemic. Our Coronavirus Charity Committee (CCC) is establishing specific guidelines for identifying affected individuals and disbursing all the funds directly to the recipients. This effort is being led by Dennis Santoli; to date more than $6,000 has been raised. If you know of a potential recipient, please contact Dennis Santoli at dsantoli@ioniallc.com.

 

It’s been a very busy period at Casa Italiana, thanks to your sponsorship and the devotion of our volunteers. To follow our progress and keep abreast of our activities, visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CasaItalianaDC and our website at www.casaitalianacenter.org.

 

We thank you for your continued support and we take great pleasure in the possibility of seeing you at Casa Italiana in the very near future. Until then stay well and stay safe.

 

Warm regards,

 

Francesco Isgro’

President & CEO

 

NIAF and Lido Civic Club Donate $10,000
to Pino Cicala Archives

 

Our gratitude to the National Italian American Foundation and the Lido Civic Club for donating $5,000 each to help support the Pino Cicala Archive s and Virtual Collection.  “These grants by the NIAF and the Lido Civic Club, acknowledge the contributions that Pino Cicala made to our Italian American community in Washington, DC, and will help support the digitization of documentary material that Pino collected over his many years as the voice of the community,” said President Francesco Isgro.  “We are especially grateful to Patricia de Stacy Harrison, Chair of the National Italian American Foundation, and Vincenzo Fragomeni, President of the Lido Civic Club, for their support.”

 

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.

This exquisite mosaic “Madonna con Bambino” was gifted to to the CISC, Inc. Robert A. Facchina Italian American Museum of Washington, DC (IAMDC) by

Brett Rugo, president of Rugo Stone. The mosaic was created by renowned mosaicist Matteo Randi in 2018, and was made using Venetian smalti (glass) and gold.  Rugo Stone is a natural stone and mosaic contracting company located in Lorton, Va.

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 

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.    Read more

Click on the banner below to access Amazon.com and Casa Italiana will benefit a small percentage from your purchase at no additional cost to you!

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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 (Fr. Ezio Marchetto, Francesco Isgro,  Elizabeth DiGregorio,  Anna Isgro, and museum designer David Friedberg), 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.

IAMDC

2018 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.

 

 

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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