A Search for Faith, Family, and Miracles
by Justin Calanoso

Posts Tagged ‘NIAF’

Back to New York

Friday, April 17th, 2009

This Sunday, I will be traveling back to New York to deliver the Joseph Valletutti Memorial Lecture at the Italian Cultural Center of St. John’s University in Queens. It’s a great honor, and I am really happy to have the opportunity. The event will be held at noon at the Donovan Hall Community Room on campus.

This is my second trip to St. John’s to share the story about the saint and my Italian family in Calabria. In November 2004, I spoke at the Gay Talese Writers Series sponsored by the National Italian American Foundation. That was long before I even knew I would be writing a book.

UPDATE: My talk at St. John’s was a great deal of fun. We had a good turn out, and it is always enjoyable to talk with a roomful of (mostly) Italian Americans, many of whom reveled in telling their own stories after my talk. Meeting members of the Valletutti family, for whom the event was honoring, was also a pleasure. Thanks to Joan D’Angela of St. John’s for the invitation and the hospitality.

Homeless struggle to cope in Abruzzo

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

The Times reports: L’AQUILA, Italy — Italy’s Civil Protection Agency continued setting up tents to house the homeless in and around L’Aquila on Wednesday after another night of fear as aftershocks continued to jolt this crumbling city. The death toll of the powerful earthquake that jolted L’Aquila on Monday rose to 251, officials said , and Pope Benedict XVI said he would visit the stricken area as soon as possible after Easter Sunday.

Please remember to contribute to a relief agency like this one.


Monday, April 6th, 2009

From The New York Times: L’AQUILA, Italy — More than 90 people died and tens of thousands were left homeless when an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.3 shook central Italy early Monday morning, seriously damaging buildings in the mountainous Abruzzo Region east of Rome, officials said. The whole story is here.

HOW TO HELP: The Italian-American Museum is collecting donations to support the emerging relief effort in Italy. Joseph Scelsa, the museum’s preident, said that checks should be made out to “I.A.M. Earthquake Relief Fund 2009 and mailed or delivered to the museum, at 155 Mulberry Street, at the corner of Grand Street, in Little Italy. Donations may also be made by credit card by calling the museum at (212) 965-9000.

ALSO: The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) has set up a relief fund. Details here.

Dr. Kenneth Ciongoli — Sad news

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008

Those of you familiar with the National Italian American Foundaton (NIAF) certainly know the name Ken Ciongoli. I came to know it directly. He called me at work one afternoon in the summer of 2004. He had read a magazine article I had written about connecting with long-lost Calabrian relatives and the saint we shared in common. He believed the story represented the ideals of NIAF — to promote the talents and true character of Italian-Americans — and wanted to get me involved. Later that year, he arranged for me to speak at the Gay Talese Writers Seminar at St. John’s University in New York. It was a great honor to participate. Mostly, it was great to learn about NIAF and its relentless crusade, embodied by Ken Ciongoli, to overcome the stereotypes and misconceptions too often attached to Italian-Americans.

Thus, I was saddened to learn yesterday that Dr. Ciongoli, who had been battling cancer, died yesterday at his home in Burlington, Vermont.

In commemoration of his life and spirit, NIAF has set up The Dr. A. Kenneth Ciongoli Colloquium Endowment. For more information, contact Elissa Ruffino, 202/939-3106,

The obituary in his hometown paper in Burlington, Vermont is here.

Italian language foundation

Friday, July 4th, 2008

Matilda Cuomo, former first lady of the state of New York and chair of the Committee to Establish the Italian AP Program, Margaret Cuomo, M.D., a member of the committee, Louis Tallarini, president of the Columbus Citizens Foundation, and Salvatore Zizza, president of the National Italian American Foundation, today announced the incorporation of the Italian Language Foundation, Inc., a non-profit entity that will promote and help underwrite the AP Italian Language and Culture Program.

The Washington Post reports here.