Hon. Rosa DeLauro, Lidia Bastianich, Angelo Vivolo an Laurie Serricchio Hollander honored in flagship event by the Sons of Italy Foundation

Jun 01, 2022 249

Leaders in public service, culinary arts, Italian American leadership, and humanitarianism were honored on Wednesday May 25, 2022, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C. by the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF) at its 33rd Annual National Education & Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala.

The SIF is the philanthropic arm of the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America® (OSDIA), the nation’s largest and oldest organization for people of Italian heritage. Hon. Rosa DeLauro (Congresswoman), Lidia Matticchio Bastianich (Chef and Restauranteur), Angelo Vivolo (Philanthropist and Entrepreneur), and Laurie Serricchio Hollander (President & Co-Founder Help Our Military Heroes) were honored on May 25th at the SIF’s 33rd Annual National Education & Leadership Award (NELA) Gala.

Following last year’s online event, this year’s gala resumed its in-person mode, with much contentment from guests and organizers alike. For the 19th straight year, actor Joe Mantegna served as the Master of Ceremonies of the NELA Gala.

The Honorable Rosa DeLauro received the 2022 SIF NELA Lifetime Achievement Award for Public Service. Representative DeLauro is the Congresswoman from Connecticut’s Third Congressional District and serves as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee as well as Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee. In her speech, the congresswoman shared stories from her upbringing in an immigrant family that came from Southern Italy and had to overcome prejudices and hardships before being integrated in the US. She quoted the values and lessons she learned at her home as the drivers behind her lifelong vocation to public service. In congratulating the NELA scholarship students, she stressed how education is the greatest equalizer as it opens the doors to opportunities, higher wages and ultimately, a better life.

Lidia Matticchio Bastianich received the 2022 SIF Lifetime Achievement Award in the International Culinary Arts. The famous Emmy award-winning public television host and owner of a flourishing food and entertainment business shared with the audience that she found her strength in life in the culinary arts and has shared it widely with the world, meeting dignitaries and even Popes. She noted that the accounts about the scholarship students encouraged her as to future generations in which they will carry forth our high standards of excellence in education. By the same token, she also believes that they will also carry forth Italian traditions and give back to society.

“We must continue to be vigilant and support one another so that our collective voice will be heard,” said Angelo Vivolo, who received the SIF Lifetime Achievement Award in Italian American Leadership. While accepting the award, he spoke about his life-long commitment to Italian heritage and culture. As the President of the Columbus Heritage Coalition, dedicated to preserving the legacy of Christopher Columbus, he commented on his support of Columbus Day and the preservation of Columbus statues, stressing that he is a great symbol of the accomplishments of the Italian American community.

The 2022 SIF Award for Courage and Patriotism was granted to Laurie Serricchio Hollander. She is the President & Co-Founder Help Our Military Heroes (HOMH), a non- profit organization that delivers adaptive minivans to wounded, injured, and ill military heroes. She cited her parents as the motive behind her vocation and deep sense of patriotism and service. She said: “The values my parents instilled in me were strengthened when I volunteered at St Paul’s Chapel at ground zero after 9/11, and even more so when both my boys entered military service several years later. Raising money to help our Armed Forces and wounded Veterans, and eventually starting up Help Our Military Heroes was a direct result of this.”

In addition to recognizing these distinguished individuals, the SIF awarded 19 highly selective scholarships to undergraduate and graduate students of Italian descent for exemplary academic performance, school leadership, and community service. Compared to last year, when 15 students benefitted from SIF’s grants, the generosity of benefactors and foundations from the Italian-American community signals a stronger support for the Sons of Italy Foundation.

Since 1989, several millions of dollars in scholarships have been awarded at the 32 NELA Galas. SIF President Joseph Sciame pointed to the Foundation’s annual presentation of scholarships in commenting as to the success of the 33rd year Gala by saying: “Our May 25th NELA Gala was truly an outstanding event especially for our 19 scholarships recipients who received a collective sum of $130,000 – the highest number of dollars awarded in our history at the national level. The students were outstanding in terms of their grades, related scores, standing in their respective classes and represented all future careers in medicine, law, business, nursing, education. We can be proud of our future!”

OSDIA National President Robert Bianchi said: “Once again, OSDIA demonstrates the core meaning of what giving to those in need and charity is all about. At our NELA, we proudly gave out another round of scholarships to extremely worthy students, raised money to buy modified vans for our wounded veterans, in addition to our many other charitable causes ranging from helping with medical cures for many diseases, to helping the displaced children in the Ukraine.

We are a group of men and women who over the years have donated tens of millions of dollars for such causes. If you are looking to join an organization that continues to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others, and that does so while maintaining our Italian culture, then there could be no better organization to join.

My special thanks to Foundation President, Joseph Sciame, for spearheading what I believe was our best NELA ever!”

The SIF’s annual NELA Gala has raised millions of dollars and has hosted many distinguished individuals. Past attendees have included U.S. presidents, members of Congress and the Cabinet, and foreign diplomats. Previous SIF honorees include President Bill Clinton; President George W. Bush; Italy’s President Giorgio Napolitano; U.S. Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia and Samuel Alito; former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; Congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro; former Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne; science & medicine luminaries Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Robert Gallo, and Dr. Michael Sofia; entertainers Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Annette Funicello, and Gary Sinise; and sports legends Mario Andretti, Geno Auriemma, and Tommy Lasorda.

Founded in 1959, the SIF has contributed tens of millions of dollars to scholarships, medical research, disaster relief efforts, cultural projects, veterans’ causes, and other special projects. The proceeds from the NELA Gala help fund its philanthropy.

SOURCE: Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America

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