by Richard Caifano
On August 3, 2013, Chicago flooring contractor Michael Veselka was installed as President of UNICO National amid the applause and merriment of delegates and their families in attendance at the 91 convention of the largest Italian-American service organization in the country. Michael and his wife, Marlene, were warmly received as president and first lady in an evening filled with pride and accomplishment for Italian Americans.
* New Jersey businessman Joseph Valenzano was the recipient of this year’s Americanism Civis Ilustris Award.
* Unico Past National President Joseph Agresti of New Jersey received the Vastola Award for exceptional service to Unico
* Bishop Arthur Serritelli of Newark, New Jersey was the recipient of Unico’s Rizzuto Award for his contributions to the betterment of mankind.
* Paula Varsalona of New York received the group’s Cianci Humanitarian award
* Professional football player Anthony Fasano and collegian Carlo Calabrese of Notre Dame received UNICO’s awards for excellence in sport achievement.
Michael announced his theme of growth tied to the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that forms the spirit of UNICO. That spirit was amply demonstrated by pledges to UNICO’s favored charitable causes totaling in excess of $60,000.00 from the floor of the convention by members in attendance.
Among the charities favored by the UNICO Foundation are The Jimmy V Cancer Research foundation, St. Jude’s Hospital for Research, Colley’s Anemia research and care facilities, the Foundation’s Scholarship funds and the Anthony J. Fornelli Scholarship Endowment at St. Ignatius College prep in Chicago.
The evening was highlighted by the provision of cannoli and pastry in the Chicago style specially flown to the convention by Chicago West Suburban UNICO member Loreto Lo Cassio, manager of Palermo Bakery in Chicago. High compliments were paid by the members from the East Coast in attendance: praise normally reserved for pastry from New York establishments.
Veselka announced UNICO National’s Mid Year Board Meeting scheduled for March 28-30, 2014, at the Embassy Suites Hotel at Chicago O’Hare. At its Mid-Year Meeting, the organization will bestow the Marconi Science Award to honor a Chicago-area Italian-American who has gained recognition in the fields of science or mathematics. Applications for the award may be submitted to the office of Unico National 271 US Highway 46 West, Suite F-103, Fairfield, N J 07004.
Those interested in obtaining more information about UNICO and its purposes are invited to visit the national website at www.uniconational.org or the website of the Chicago West Suburban Chapter at unicochicagowest.com.