So many Italian Americans have left indelible marks on history. What about the next generation of Italian Americans? We often reflect on what we can we do to make an impact. St. Teresa of Calcutta said, we can “do small things with great love.” This quote is very reflective of the influence that a special group of Italian Americans has dedicated itself to in the past 20 years.
Last year, The Northern Ohio Italian American Foundation (NOIA) celebrated its 20th anniversary. The group, made up of influential, dedicated and successful Italian men and women, works to preserve its Italian culture and honor its history.
This desire to preserve Italian values was paired with a great responsibility. In 1995, NOIA determined its charitable mission: to support religious and educational institutions as well as community organizations that embody and advance Italian American culture and ideals.
The call to support has grown tremendously over the years. Today, NOIA has increased to over 225 members and with an Endowment of more than $3.5 million. All of these acts have been done with great love. Major contributions include the restoration of the sacristy of St. John’s Cathedral in downtown Cleveland, Cleveland Italian Cultural Gardens, Cleveland Art Museum, Padua Franciscan High School, and the Tommy LiPuma Center for Creative Arts. Additionally, four local parishes with Italian roots have also benefitted from NOIA’s mission: St. Rocco, Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Holy Redeemer, and Holy Rosary.
With community leaders such as Umberto Fedeli, CEO of The Fedeli group, Vince Campanella, former Cuyahoga County Commissioner, and John Quagliata, Cleveland restaurateur, NOIA has incredible and diverse support within the Cleveland community.
“I joined NOIA in order to help preserve the memories of my ancestors who were instrumental in creating the Italian American culture,” Campanella said. “The galas, particularly in the early years, were my best memories. I think the best change NOIA has made over the past 20 years has been the emergence of the next generation who are showing signs of bright leadership.”
As the Executive Director, I am always eager for our members to connect more with our culture. With this in mind, it has been important for our organization to include the next generation. We have taken great pride in reaching out to our younger members. I’m delighted to note that we have over 100 members under the age of 40. In addition to engaging the next generation, we are honoring the roots of the past.