Westside Italian Cultural Group is now Italian Portland!

Aug 16, 2020 997

BY: Founders' note

My family started arriving in Portland from southern Italy in 1951, and established roots in the southeast area of the city. My Italian family felt that aside from the sunny weather they were used to south of Naples, the terrain and the things they enjoyed doing (gardening, fishing, mushroom hunting for porcini, & making wine) were just as vibrant in the Portland area as they were in their small village back “home.”

I didn’t realize until I got older how lucky I was to be raised in this large Italian family with these beautiful customs, and this inspired me in 2016 to reach out via Facebook to see if anyone would be interested in being part of an Italian cultural group on the westside. The response was very positive and we started meeting monthly in Tualatin under the name of, Westside Italian Culture. Our numbers started growing and we now have an established group that enjoys Italian themed events, speakers, authors, and much more.

From the beginning, the goal has been to establish a nonprofit organization that would help us bring legitimacy and create a strong footprint, as well as a legacy for our beautiful Italian culture. Four years into this venture, we are ready to establish our nonprofit, and because our Italian culture group on the westside has grown and now incorporates attendees and participants from all reaches of the greater Portland area we have decided to establish the name of our nonprofit as, Italian Portland.

Italian Portland has been in existence as a Facebook page but will now merge with Westside Italian Culture and become an official nonprofit. I am so excited about this and look forward to all that is to come. Grazie mille to all who have been supporting our group! You have made it possible for us to move into the future with this exciting venture!

Our new Mission Statement: Italian Portland is a nonprofit organization in Portland, Oregon celebrating, promoting, and preserving the beautiful Italian culture with our family traditions, foods, and history, and melding it with modern life. Our goal is to bring Italian events, activities, news, and happenings to our Italian community and to be a source of support and connectedness.

Tonya Russo Hamilton


While "staying in place" during this pandemic, Tonya and I have been cooking up something new for the group. Well, maybe not literally cooking, but working to improve how we can continue to connect with our members/followers and present worthwhile events. Please understand there may be a few hiccups along the way as we revise procedures, websites, meetings, etc.

First, we have added a new team member, Angela Zagarella. You should be familiar with Angela from prior presentations she has given to our group and her involvement in the Portland Italian Film Festival and other prominent Italian organizations in Portland, as well as her position as the Language Program Coordinator at Portland State University. Her strengths and talents support our team nicely and together the three of us have made great strides this summer.

Second, we have a new website! Be sure to check it out and preview all the changes we have made. ITALIAN PORTLAND The website is evolving as we migrate some of Westside's information and photos over. Bear with us as we continue to refine the website and build it to better serve our group and the Italian community.

Third, there is a new logo being developed for our group. We are very excited and hope to unveil it next month.

And last, but certainly NOT least, as Tonya mentioned, we are finally getting the nonprofit status off the ground. We are meeting with an attorney and hopefully will be moving swiftly through the process to be completed by the end of the year. Cross fingers!

SOURCE: Italian Portland

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