A Message from the President

Dear members and friends:

Spring is on the way! It may or may not bring baseball, but it is coming just the same. It remains the season of new beginnings, ushering in many natural delights for us to enjoy.

When spring does get here, it will unfortunately meet up with the Omicron variant of COVID-19, which will likely still be causing problems. The resurgence of Omicron cases in December and January prompted the AMHS to postpone its planned first program of the New Year. The program was to have been an in-person event in which Eric Denker, the Senior Lecturer at the National Gallery of Art, was to be the guest speaker. Our consolation though is that we can continue to look forward to his presentation on Venice, as we will present Mr. Denker at an in-person event later this year. In place of our postponed event, we held a virtual discussion of the documentary film “My Italian Secret: The Forgotten Heroes”, which recounted the bravery of many Italians who put their own families at risk in saving the lives of thousands of Jews, partisans and refugees during the Holocaust. Jim Toscano, who is himself a filmmaker, led the discussion and offered numerous insights into both the content and the techniques used in the film. The timing of our event was purposeful, as it took place just three days after International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Participants in the excellent discussion of this outstanding film included Italian Americans joining us from coast to coast — from Los Angeles to Pittsburgh, which is one of the great advantages offered by virtual events and made possible by today’s technology.

By the time you read this, we will have offered another interesting event in the remote format. On February 27, we presented “Italian Louisiana: History, Heritage, Tradition”, a virtual talk by historian and author Alan Gauthreaux. Mr. Gauthreaux discussed the history of Italians in New Orleans, explaining the many ways in which these immigrants shaped the culture of the city. It is a fascinating topic, and I hope that you were able to enjoy it. Please stay tuned for additional upcoming events because our Program Committee has enlisted a number of excellent speakers who will talk on topics of interest to just about everyone.

Speaking of topics of interest, do not miss Nancy DeSanti’s piece later in this edition. It describes the kind of adventure that we usually only see in the movies or in travelogues. AMHS member Willy Meaux has made a life-changing decision to return to his ancestral roots in Abruzzo. He and his wife purchased a farmhouse and surrounding land, on which they plan to establish a vineyard. Check out this exciting endeavor inside this Notiziario and then dream along with the rest of us.

I would like to thank the many members who have contributed to our Annual Scholarship Fund. To date, we have received $9,415, which not only breaks last year’s record-breaking amount but also represents the largest sum of monies raised in the history of our scholarship appeals. Your generosity is a clear indication of the value you place on our Scholarship Program, which may very well be the most important undertaking in our mission to preserve and promote our shared heritage and to pass along an appreciation for it to future generations. Our campaign continues, so it is still not too late to make a contribution if you would like to be a part of this record-setting success.

Regarding our scholarship program, I am pleased to announce that the AMHS has received a generous donation to start an additional and separate scholarship fund. The fund will select winners from applicants who are majoring in music. It will be named for Angela Lastrico Raish, a longtime friend of several AMHS members. Please be on the lookout for additional details on this exciting expansion of our scholarship program.

In the meantime, enjoy the spring. I am looking forward to it, and I am also looking forward to seeing you at one of our future events — whether in person or virtual.

Best regards,
Ray LaVerghetta

March/April 2022

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