Auburn Italian-American club has a history of helping out

Feb 10, 2013 2175

Helping an organization that does good for others while doing something she loves — cooking — is Nora Chindamo's secret ingredient for a successful event. Nora and other members of the Italian-American Society are coming together on Feb. 9 to host a lasagna dinner benefiting Hospice of the Finger Lakes.

"Hospice of the Finger Lakes is grateful for the support of the Italian-American Club for sponsoring a benefit dinner," said Theresa K. Kline, executive director. "This special event kicks off Hospice's year-long celebration of 25 years of service in our community. Nora Chindamo and her committee are sure to prepare a delicious dinner. Nora's exceptional culinary skills are well-known in our community."

The Italian-American Club (once known as the Sons of Italy) is both a social and service organization. Its legal name is the Monsignor Gabbani Memorial Community Club Lodge 101. Monsignor Adolf Gabbani was born in Italy in 1872 and ordained a Catholic priest in 1897. Gabbani served the church for more than 50 years before passing away on Easter Sunday in 1949. Nora knew him, as he was her priest when she made her first Communion.

The Italian-American Club believes in helping the community. One of its major projects is its annual Monsignor Gabbani Scholarship Dinner. The highlight of this event is the scholarship ceremony where at least five high school seniors receive scholarship support to help fund their future education. In 2012, six area seniors received scholarships of $500 each.

The Italian-American Club meets the second Wednesday of each month at Denny's on Grant Avenue in Auburn. Other events include throughout the year include an annual Christmas party, summer picnic, Halloween party, lasagna benefit dinner, and a monthly Saturday social evening. Dues are $30, and membership applications can be obtained at Sam's Shoe Service at 20 E. Genesee St. Nora states that anyone is welcome to join the organization, not just Italian-Americans.

Nora says she's been involved with the group for about 10 years now. It's an opportunity to get out and see her many friends. She also likes that there's an opportunity to do things for the community.

"We live in a wonderful community," she said. "But there is also a lot of need, so it's important that we try to help our neighbors. For me, preparing the lasagna dinner is more fun than work."

She notes that all their dues and fundraising proceeds stay local.

The idea for a benefit dinner emerged two years ago, when the club sponsored its first one, at that time benefiting Matthew House.

"Hospice just seemed like the right choice," Nora said. "They're a small organization that has a real need for financial support. Hospice provides a valuable service to the community and a lot of people need their services.

"When you use your skills to do something for another, it's really not an effort. A couple of hours of time can make a difference for so many in need," Nora said. "Sometimes people feel that they have to make a long-term commitment to do something meaningful, but helping out can be done in so many ways."

Nora's been cooking all her life. She's been the school cook at SS. Peter and Paul school for some 40 years. She says that she's always liked to both cook and bake.

"It just comes naturally to me. When I see people come together and enjoy something I've prepared, it gives me a lot of pleasure," she said.

Those attending the dinner will be treated to lasagna, salad, bread and dessert.

"The ladies and I have developed a good system over the years," Nora said. "The school where I work lets us use their kitchen as their donation. After the meat and sauce is prepared, it's a lot like an assembly line!"

The biggest challenge in putting on a dinner like this is selling the tickets. Tickets are advance-sale only — as Nora said, "You can't make lasagna at the last minute."

Tickets are available at Hospice of the Finger Lakes and Sam's Shoe Service. You can also reserve your tickets by calling 253-9335. Diners may eat there or do takeout.

Nora hopes people will come out to not only enjoy a great meal, but to help out those who may need it.

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