Honoree: Roma Lodge of Racine
For more than 100 years, the Roma Lodge in Racine has nurtured and strengthened in its members a deep appreciation of Italian heritage and an abiding respect for the continuing contributions of Italian-Americans to life in the United States. The Roma Lodge welcomes as members all men of Italian birth, descent, or lineage, regardless of their religious faith or political affiliation and remains dedicated to its motto: "Liberty, Equality and Fraternity."
Started as a mutual aid society in 1907, the Roma Lodge helped newly arrived Italian immigrants find jobs and housing, paid sick and death benefits, provided instruction in the English language and American civics while preserving in its members the customs, language, literature, and culture of Italy. The original Lodge opened in 1923 at 1300 North Memorial Drive. The organization moved to its present facility at 7130 Spring Street in 1987. The building has been expanded several times in the ensuing 25 years.
In 1979, the Roma Lodge Italian Festival earned an important place on the region's social calendar. In addition to showcasing Italian customs, food, and heritage, the Festival served as a prime fundraiser for the Lodge, and the event quickly established itself as a "must attend" occasion, offering good food and entertainment for the entire family at reasonable prices. This year's Italian Festival is July 27-29 at Racine's Lake Front Festival Park.
As has been the case for 105 years, the Roma Lodge is led by a dedicated group of Sons of Italy headed by President Buddy Alfano. Lodge executives are Dave Chiapete (Vice President), Jerry Perona (Recording Secretary) Patrick Diem (Treasurer), Doug Goebel (Membership Secretary), and Jack Ruffolo (Parliamentarian). Lodge Directors are John Anzalone, Frank Bisotti Jr., Rick Bonanno, Rick Crivello, Jeff Demattew, Jim Faraone, Dennis Porcaro, and Art Rozzoni.Much has changed in Racine in the century since Roma Lodge was established, but one thing remains constant: Roma Lodge members continue to take pride in their Italian heritage and in the Italian immigrants who worked hard to build a place for themselves and their children in the United States.