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A time for every purpose …

by Joanne Spata

To everything; turn, turn, turn. There is a season; turn, turn, turn and a time for every purpose under heaven. So sang the group The Byrds in 1962 in the song written by Pete Seeger and borrowed from Ecclesiastes 3:1. Whether it was written 50 years ago, or over 2,000 years ago; it is still true today.

Here at Casa Italia, it is hard to believe that summer is coming to an end and that the cooler winds of fall are beginning to blow. I know that for many, summer is a time to relax; to take life at a slower, more leisurely pace and enjoy the warm weather. At Casa Italia there is no such thing as a slow time of year. For here, each season is jam packed with exciting events and opportunities.

Our summer activities, such as our famous Italian Language Summer Camp run by the incomparable Josette Mentesana Weber, our outdoor presentations of Italian Movies Al Fresco and all our weekend club based festivals are in the past now; at least until next summer. With the success of each of these events, we are left with the challenge of how do we top this.

Well, here is how… On August 16th we will present “Festivallo Musicale Sotto le Stelle”, Casa Italia’s Music Festival Under the Stars. Think Ravinia West with better food! Come join us as the Main Street Opera Company displays their eclectic musical range by presenting popular songs of both yesterday and today. This fabulous dinner show, under the pavilion, pairs operatic arias, Broadway show tunes and today’s pop music with the delicious flavors of Italy served family style, directly from our own Nonna Graziella’s Cucina Italiana. The cost for this magical evening is $40.00 and reservations are a must at 708-345-5933.

Just as school bells begin ringing around the greater Chicago land area, so too do the bells toll for Italian Language Classes to resume at Casa Italia. Come join us to sharpen your Italian language skills, or learn from scratch, the beautiful language of our heritage. With classes in basic and all levels of advanced, for children and adults, you cannot go wrong. Not certain as to what level you are at, give us a call and we can help direct you with our advanced testing. Don’t live near Stone Park, don’t worry; we have satellite classes in many suburban locations. Call us and let’s parka l’italiano, 708-345-5933.

On September 27th, Casa Italia will host the Main Street Opera Company performing two of Puccini’s fabulous one act operas: Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi. These operas will be presented in their entirety and in full costume. You are welcome to come for the opera only, bring a picnic basket or a dinner package can be arranged. Again, Ravinia style, with better parking, all in Stone Park! Contact us at 708-345-5933 for reservations and pricing options.

Then on October 5th and 6th, Casa Italia will host its annual Fall Festival. Come and enjoy the scents, sights and sounds of Italy all on our grounds! Continuous entertainment, Italian delicacies, children’s games and attractions will greet you as you enter our gates. And what would a Fall Festival be without wine, cider and cheese making? For all this and more, check out our website at www.casaitaliachicago.net. Entertainment provided by Ron Onesti of Onesti Entertainment.

Well, we covered the change of seasons’ events, now for the “a time for every purpose under heaven”. As we celebrate our fifteenth year of operation as Casa Italia, we really have been through everything. Come to think of it, we have been through everything, at least once and then some! And if I say so myself, we have experiences a great deal of growth and maturity. Most of it was phenomenal. Unfortunately though, as we all know, with maturity sometimes come wrinkles and creaky bones!

I mentioned in my column last month that the Casa Italia was experiencing not only growing pains but those of maturity and natural catastrophe as well, given the flooding we experiences last spring. As a result, the Casa is going through an intensive review process to determine what our needs are, to be able to continue to provide both you and future generations with the first class events, classes and experiences which you have come to expect and enjoy. Our preliminary numbers for the amount we need to raise are hefty, but we know with your continued support we will reach our goal.

Please help us keep Casa Italia the vibrant center which it has become. We need your assistance and funding to keep our facilities not only up and running; but growing and developing for generations to come. Without your support, our many buildings, which now house our museums, art galleries, classrooms, chapel, pavilion and offices may be in jeopardy. We need your help to protect our treasured history and culture.

Again, I know we are blessed. We are still completely operational. I know we are even more fortunate, because we have friends like you; who have spent decades at the Italian Cultural Center at Casa Italia, and understand its true value to our community. In the months ahead, we will be presenting our long range goals and needs. We hope you will answer our plea for your continued support and assistance to help keep Casa Italia the gem of the Italian American community. Should you feel this is the right time for you to come to the aid of Casa Italia, please give me a call at 708-345-5933 and let’s discuss how we can further shape the future of Casa Italia. I always look forward to speaking with anyone who truly is a believer in our community and all that we can accomplish together.

About Fra Noi

Fra Noi produces a magazine and website that serve the Chicago-area Italian-American community. Our magazine offers our readers a monthly feast of news and views, culture and entertainment that keeps our diverse and widely scattered readers in touch with each other and their heritage. Our website offers a dizzying array of information drawn from every corner of the local community.