When Tropical Storm Irene flooded parts of the Capital Region during the late summer of 2011, the Sons of Italy pitched in.
Some people had lost their homes. Other people were repairing storm damage. They were all hungry.
The Sons — from the Gabriele D’Annunzio Lodge 321 — cooked up a plan to help. The cooking involved 120 pounds of pasta, 30 pounds of sausage, 400 meatballs, 60 loaves of bread and four sheet cakes.
“Then we did it again later, on a smaller scale,” said Louis Fazzone, current president of the lodge at 2984 Hamburg St. in Rotterdam.
The Sons of Italy have been helping the community since their formation in Schenectady in 1915. The group’s first mission was to help Italian immigrants with jobs, housing, medical care and language skills.
The local Italians used to meet in different parts of Schenectady. In 1948, the group rented a two-story building on Liberty Street. The organization purchased the building in 1952 and built an addition — Columbus Hall — in 1967.
Bingo programs became a big deal, and the Sons were able to donate thousands of dollars to the Schenectady Museum, the Red Cross, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Little League and other groups and charities.
Move to Hamburg Street
The group moved into an abandoned Baptist church on Hamburg Street in 2007.
“We have a much better location now,” Fazzone said. “There are residential communities all around us. It’s easier for people to get here. We had 170 members in 2007. Now we have more than 500.”
The Sons of Italy will meet for the group’s 97th anniversary celebration on Friday, Oct. 26, at Mallozzi’s restaurant in Rotterdam. Cesare Maniccia, a lodge past president, will be honored.