by Joanne Spata
The Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia surely lived up to its name as nearly 500 of it supporters and friends gathered to celebrate its 41st annual Person of the Year Dinner Dance. The theme “Preserving Italian Heritage and Sharing Italian Culture” permeated the enchanted evening, which took place on Feb. 18 at Alta Villa.
From the moment the gala began, there was a new, yet elegant energy in the air, created by Dinner Dance Chairperson Kimberly Palmisano. Through her heartfelt sharing of her time and talent, she made the evening truly special. Through her efforts and her masterfully direction of her committee, she was able to orchestrate not only one of the most financially successful events that the Cultural Center has hosted, but also one of the most enjoyable, while still bringing the goals and needs of the Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia to the forefront.
Kimberly brought several new ways to the table to help promote and support the Center’s numerous programs and needs. Through several different video presentations, the numerous fun-filled festivals, the beautiful art galleries and historic museums at the Center were spotlighted.
The “Fund the Need” silent auction highlighted the fabulous Casa Italia Children’s Summer Camp and the Italian Language Programs for both adults and children. She even promoted the fabulous Roselli Library at the Italian Cultural Center, one of the largest Italian-American libraries in the Midwest. All this and it was masterfully blended to make one fabulous celebration of our culture and heritage.
Just entering through the doors into the lobby, the excitement was palpable as the 2012 Person of the Year, Allison Rosati, along with her family, and the numerous members of Casa Italia’s Board of Directors, joined in personally greeting the attendees as they arrived. As guests entered the ballroom, they were moved by the tones of everyone’s favorite band, Diamanti, playing both modern and Italian standards. Set out before them, patrons found a sumptuous hors d’oeuvres buffet, filled with every type of Italian delicacy imaginable. And they were still just into the cocktail hour!
The presentation was truly a moving experience, with Kimberly Palmisano making opening remarks and thanking her committee, the Casa staff and all those present who were supportive of the Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia. Next, Tony “Umberto” Turano, Chairman of the Board at Casa Italia, welcomed everyone, then present the mission, goals and vision of the Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia. Tony also introduced and thanked all of sponsors of the evening and the members of the Board of Directors of the Casa.
The podium was then taken by Senatore Ron “Renato” Turano, past chairman of Casa Italia, who spoke of our rich heritage and protecting our culture and history for generations to come. He further spoke of his friend and the evening’s honoree, Allison Rosati, before turning the microphone over to NBC’s Rob Stafford, who entertained the audience with wonderful stories of both Allison the Italian-American homemaker and Allison the news anchor.
When Allison Rosati took the stage to accept her award, she spoke of her gratitude at being honored, her gratitude to her family for their support, and her gratitude at being able to come into people’s homes each day and share the news with them. She stated, “I truly love what I do and I feel a tremendous responsibility to deliver the very best news-cast each and every day.” As honoree, Allison Rosati brought a fresh, yet still culturally familiar vibe to the event.
As the co-anchor of NBC News Chicago, she truly personifies the finest aspects of being Italian American. Tony Turano summed it up by stating, “She is the perfect balance of wife, mother and career woman, who is known for her integrity, passion and commitment. Allison is also dedicated to making her community a better place and volunteers her time to many Chicago-area organizations.”
Kimberly Palmisano noted that, “Allison Rosati carries her Italian name proudly and brings great respect to the Italian-American community.” Kimberly further stated that, “Allison Rosati was the perfect honoree for an event that celebrated Italian culture and heritage. As a result of chairing the 2012 Woman of the Year dinner dance, I established close bonds with Allison and members of Casa Italia. It was a night to remember and an experience I will never forget.”
After the award presentation, the Rev. August Feccia, the founder of the Italian Cultural Center, offered the invocation. As always, Fr. Feccia’s remarks were truly moving and most heartfelt.
Dinner was immediately served, and the audience was treated to a performance of the incomparable Tremper Golden Strings of Kenosha, Wis. They are a prestigious high school strolling strings ensemble that performs all over the world, delighting audiences with their skilled musicianship and diverse musical styles. Their performance was sponsored by the Turano Family.
It is noteworthy that the majority of the funds raised during this year’s Person of the Year dinner were donated by the following sponsors, who take great personal interest in the Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia, Italian culture and heritage.
The Casa is most grateful to Turano Baking Company for their Michelangelo level sponsorship. and to Rex Carton Company, Calabresi in America Organization, Midway Dodge, the Italian American Chamber of Commerce-Midwest, The Strive Group, Wintrust Commercial Baking, Speed-O-Lite Printing Center and Palmisano & Moltz for their Leonardo da Vinci level sponsorship.
Chairman of the Board Tony Turano and Chairperson of the 2012 Person of the Year Dinner Kimberly Palmisano are most grateful to their committee for their hard work and tireless commitment: Rose Ballenger, Anna Bohringer, Dominic Candeloro, Gabe Caporale, Gail Carey, Nancy Cometa, Mary Conti, Dean Dalaly, Vito D’Ambrosio, Carlo DeBenedictis, Leonard DeFranco, Mary DeSanto, Amy Lemar, Ron Lemar, LaVerne Marcheschi, Josette Mentesana Weber, Cathy Minerino, Alfa Polidoro, Frank Saporito, Jo Ann Serpico, Connie Sisto, Joanne Spata, Ron Turano, Tony Turano, Dominic Verlotta, Nina Vidmer and Diane Vlach.