The 85th Grand Lodge of California Convention was held in the beautiful Double Tree by Hilton Anaheim/Orange County California. Our Host Lodges were the Anaheim Lodge #2076 and Renaissance Lodge #2259. They did a wonderful job making us feel welcomed.
On Wednesday we held the Bocce Tournament. Everyone had a wonderful time, and the cream did rise to the top with the winning team of Louie Lodi (First Vice President), Al Girolami (Columbia Lodge), Dan Marinelli (Sacramento Lodge), and Don Cradduck (Northern Solano Lodge)
Our opening day was Thursday, June 23rd. Mariann Aita, President of the Anaheim Lodge was our Grand Herald and had the honor of introducing all the State Committee Chairs as well as the Grand Lodge and National Officers.
Mary Jane, President of the Renaissance Lodge welcomed us to the Convention. Our Color Guard consisted of some of our member that are veterans. Hugh Ricci from Cristofor Colombo Lodge, Bill Murphy from St Helena Lodge, and Mauro Romagnoli from Joanne Coccia Lodge.
Our Past State President, Maria Fazio Pignati sang the American and Italian National Anthems. Her beautiful voice brought tears to many eyes. Father Adam Forno, our National Chaplin, did the Invocation. President Mariann Aita presented First Gent, Ken Wisniewski with a gift card to his favorite store…Best Buy! He thanked her and the Lodges for their generosity. Past Grand Lodge President Maria Pignati read the Necrologio. Eighty-two of our members have passed during the year 2021. We will miss them.
Reports were given by the first group of Grand Lodge Officers We broke for the Presidents and Spouses Lunch. It has been two years since we have had an “in-person” Convention, so it was only fitting that we honor both. If not for spouses, our Presidents would not be able to take care of business. It is important to honor our support group. Each received a small token to say, “Thank You”.
After lunch we suspended the Grand Lodge Convention to convene the Western Foundation CAO, Mark Rossi took over the meeting and we heard reports from the Foundation Committees.
Our Golf Tournament in the North will be held in Chico at the Canyon Oaks Country Club on September 12th. The Golf Tournament in the South will be held in Palm Springs at the Indian Canyon Golf Resort on November 14th. Please support these activities so our Western Foundation can continue to support the scholarships and charities we have selected through the years. We then suspended the Western Foundation till the next day.
Our resident rabble rouser, Yvonne Vanoni, gave us a shade from the past with the parade of mutande with Manny Finazzo and Pam Bini. Parading their mutande and Limoncello! She fell from out of the Lemon Tree while trying to pick the lemons for her Limoncello!!
We broke for the evening to get ready for the “Take Me Out To The Ball Game” Theme Night. There were mostly Dodgers and Giants fans but a few Angels, Yankees and even a few Reno Aces AAA fans. The chants were loud and long for the teams. The Cracker Jack and peanuts on the table made for a great experience. Our own entertainers Frankie DiSalvio, Lee Sparkle, and our third Vice President Louie Lodi got up and sang for us. Thank you, Convention Chair, Lynn Lawrence Murphy, and our sponsoring Lodges for a great, fun night.
Day two began with a visit from our Supreme Lodge President, Robert Bianchi Esq. He gave a very moving speech to our delegates. I wish that more of our delegates and members were there to hear him.
The discussion of the sale of the Grand Lodge building and lot at 5051 Mission Street in San Francisco was then had. Cochairs of the Building Investment Committee presented a proposal to gift the building to the Western Foundation and then sell it with special limitations as to what could be done with those funds. It was felt that this would save our Grand Lodge in taxes. After a lengthy discussion it was voted to remove the $5 million dollar minimum that was put in place several years ago, not gift the building to the Western Foundation but to direct the Grand Council to move forward with the selling of the building. The monies will be a part of the Grand Lodge Finances and will be used by the elected body of the Grand Council to purchase a building in a location that they deem best for the Grand Lodge.
The Roma Lodge presented a few by-law changes for consideration. The change to not have the Council fine any Lodges for not attending the Convention was passed. This change must go to the Supreme Convention to have the change effective. The lunch on Day two was for the Royal Court of the Golden Lion, the Western Foundation’s Fund-raising Committee. The Committee gave a check for $2,500 to the Gary Sinise Foundation. The Gary Sinise Foundation assists our Defenders, Veterans, First Responders, and their families in need.
Back to business in the afternoon, we had a breakout session for all Financial Secretaries. If they were not in attendance the Lodge Presidents were asked to attend. Thank you, Arlene Nunziati and Lynn Lawrence Murphy for putting this together. I hope that the attendees were able to use what they learned when they got home. I know the Lodge Presidents gave the information to their Financial Secretaries.
That afternoon our Il Leone Editor, Andy Pampuro and his lovely wife Louise attended the session. Grand Lodge Third Vice President, Louie Lodi, and Grand Lodge President Barbara Fumosa Wisniewski, called them to the front of the room to present them with the Janet Capello Distinguished Members Award. This is given to those that have distinguished themselves in their contributions to our Order in the Grand Lodge of California. Andy and Louise have given of themselves to our local and Grand Lodge for 52 years.
Entertainment Night was so much fun with the dance band “Full Spectrum” entertaining us. Dinner was excellent. Everyone continued with the camaraderie that began on Thursday with all of us touching base again with each other and dancing and laughing together.
Saturday was a busy day with some reports but all our very generous donations. Our own special friend Phil Privitera from Massachusetts pledged $1,000.00 to help subsidize our own Il Leone. In total we received pledges for almost $5,000.00 for the Il Leone.
The General Scholarship received pledges of almost $15,000.00. We received pledges for
Trade School Scholarship for over $500.00.
Our Perpetual Scholarships received Pledges for over $11,000.00
The Medical Charities and Birth Defects Libraries received some wonderful pledges:
Cooley’s Anemia $6,800.00
Autism Research $250.00
American Cancer Research $1,900.00
American Heart Research $425.00
UC Davis BD Library $2,000.00
The Grand Lodge thanks all for your generosity!
Our youth group, headed by Brian Watson then came to the podium and introduced themselves. They were off to Disneyland again so in a rush to be gone! They left gifts for all those that donated to the Little Lion Program so we can continue the program for future conventions free of charge to the children’s’ families. With all our business conducted, The Convention was closed.
Many of our Delegates attended mass served by Fr. Adam Forno, our National Chaplin.
That evening we all attended the Black and White Ball in honor of our scholarship winners. The four students in attendance were:
Josephine Aspromonte who was awarded the $3,000 Ena Moresco Scholarship donated by Charles and Anna M Pedrazzini Foundation and presented by Janey Leonardich, President of the Watsonville Lodge.
Elyse Reilly was awarded the $3,000 In honor of Lodge Members donated by the Cristoforo Colombo Lodge and presented by Pamela Ricci, President of the Cristofor Colombo Lodge.
Preston Boswell was awarded the $2,500 in memory of Jean Privitera Scholarship donated by the Privitera Family Charitable Foundation and presented by Philip Joseph Privitera SIF Trustee National OSDIA
Antonio M Paganelli was awarded the In memory of bob Vaona Scholarship donated by the Vaona Family and the Centinela Valley Lodge presented by Mark Vaona, Grand Lodge Second Vice President.
Our National President, Robert Bianchi Esq gave an amazing speech about our youth and how they are the future of our Order. He struck a chord with everyone in attendance, as he spoke about what we have accomplished, what we are accomplishing and what we can accomplish in the future. We were fired up and ready to have all hands-on deck to help him and our National Lodge continue to grow our Order.
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Sons and Daughters of Italy in America
Grand Lodge of California
P. O. Box 2467
Fairfield, CA 94533
Phone: (415) 586-1316