Celebrate our 35th Birthday

May 21, 2014 1098

OUR HISTORY ~ 1979-2014 by Prof./Cav. Philip J. DiNovo

On Tuesday, June 12, 1979 I invited eight Italian American professors to meet with me in the Department of Law lounge at Syracuse University. I had previously read Richard Gambino's book, Blood of My Blood, finding it so powerful that I was compelled to do something to preserve our Italian heritage. Other groups were discovering their "roots"; most Italian American organizations were social clubs.

I felt strongly that in order to preserve our Italian heritage we needed an organization that was more than just social. Consensus in our small group at that meeting was that we should form an Association whose mission would be to record and preserve our Italian heritage and culture. They elected me as president, my first directive being to arrange a dinner meeting in honor of Christopher Columbus.

The event subsequently took place on October 12, 1979 at Merrill House on the campus of Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. Our speaker was Assemblyman John Zagame and his topic was Italian Americans.

Between 1980 and 1989, our association held two conferences per year all over central New York with each event having a particular theme. There were four or five speakers on various topics and a main speaker following the dinner. Many of those speakers were people of note from a president of one of the largest universities in the nation to presidents of national Italian American organizations.

The names of generous donors and outstanding members can be found all over our museum. So many of our members, past and present, have and are making sacrifices so that we can carry out our important mission. Each and every member is important; we need everyone in order to remain vibrant.

We have many challenges: raising needed funds, obtaining and keeping a sufficient number of volunteers, and building upon our membership. I know we can meet these challenges, but it requires sacrifice and commitment. I am also aware that I repeat myself, but repetition is the mother of learning! We must have much more help if we are to adequately meet the serious challenges that we face.

The first three years were difficult and required the expenditure of thousands of dollars provided by yours truly. I was told over and over again that there was not enough interest or commitment to warrant such perseverance. Presently, we have over one thousand members in forty states and several nations. We operate the largest Italian American museum in the east and our property is estimated to be worth more than one million dollars. We have many reasons to celebrate our 35th birthday. We have carried out our mission by serving the Italian American community and the general public very well! Our 35th birthday is a time to celebrate, appreciate our accomplishments, and resolve to continue our mission. Your support will make it possible for us to pass on our invaluable treasure, our Italian heritage.

Source: American Italian Heritage Association

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