Order Sons of Italy in America - Grand Lodge of California

Representing Americans of Italian descent residing in:

California Nevada Southern Oregon

Welcome from the State President

Lynn LawrenceBenvenuti! I would like to welcome you to the Grand Lodge of California’s Website.

It seems March marched in roaring as a lion and left calm as a lamb. We welcome the freshness and beauty of Spring. Just like our lodges and the Grand Lodge, we survive the storms and hard times that occur within, and move forward welcoming the freshness and beauty of new members and new ideas. I would like to suggest the following slogan for all of us to follow, “We are Italian Americans Celebrating Our Heritage and Building a Better Tomorrow” - That’s who we are – Italians proud of our Culture and Heritage, wanting to move forward as a family, and to share and include everyone into our fold. We can accomplish this with determination and the willingness to accept the changes that are necessary to meet the needs of today’s population.

On February 28th, Bill and I traveled to Eureka to attend their meeting and acknowledge and thank Madeleine Stagnoli for her many years of devotion and commitment to their lodge and the Order. Unfortunately, Madeleine was ill, and I was unable to thank her personally; but I did have the opportunity to observe Eureka’s Lodge President Eddie Fornari Morgan conduct an excellent meeting, rekindle friendships, and initiate 3 new members with 8 more applications coming in. Love to be able to welcome new members into our family.

March 4th, we attended the Valley of the Moon’s Scholarship Dinner Dance. Attendance was great, food delicious, music enjoyable and the camaraderie outstanding. That Friday and Saturday we sadly attended the rosary and funeral of long time member, Past State Vice President, Past State Trustee, Past Columbia Lodge President, Mario Marcucci. All who knew Mario, his warm friendly smile, many stories, and the pleasure we all received from his singing, will truly miss him. Our prayers and condolences go out to his wife of 76 years Norma, our State 1st Vice President Arlene and their family on the loss of this true “Son of ltaly and Distinguished Member of the Order”. The next day March 12th, Bill and I travelled to Tulare to attend the United Lodges of San Joaquin’s Meeting. It gave me a chance to meet with representatives from the local lodges, and personally answer and address any questions and concerns they had. This open communication and face to face meeting, leads to fewer misunderstandings, and to clearer and positive ways to address issues. We not only had a very enjoyable lunch, but I feel we all came away with a better understanding of each other, and the importance of all working together to move forward as an united family. On Monday, March 13th, the Honorable Lorenzo Ortona, the Italian Consul General of ltaly, visited the Grand Lodge Office. Our caterer, Gabriele Muselli and his family prepared and served a delightful lunch for the Consul General, his assistant Federico Bracero, Past State President Maria Pignati, State Recording Secretary Lori Rossi, office staff Martha Sanchez, Bill and l. Lorenzo focused on the importance of having the many different Italian Organizations that exist within his jurisdiction joining together to support each other and to work as an unified group. After our delightful luncheon, he toured the building and was amazed at the beauty of the Hall of Mirrors and the size of the meeting rooms-possibly opening doors for other Italian groups to use for events and meetings in the future. 

On Thursday, March 16th, it was down to Torrance to prepare for the Grand Council Meeting on March 17th – 19th. Bill and I helped Scholarship Chair Rosemarie Vanderhaar set up for her Scholarship Meeting on Friday the 17th where her committee worked on evaluating the 2017 Scholarship Applications. Bill worked with the Scholarship Committee while I joined the Trustees Meeting at 1:00, and at 3:30 conducted the Executive Council Meeting. Saturday, March 18th, was the Grand Council Meeting which was held at the Centinela Valley Lodge Hall. Thank you, Lodge President Annette Porter and your lodge members for the delicious breakfast and lunch, and allowing us to meet at your hall. That evening we all attended the Thank You Dinner honoring retired Convention Chair Chris Lotito which took place at the Double Tree by Hilton in Torrance. Many local lodge presidents, State Officers, Committee Chairs and members were in attendance to personally thank Chris for his many years of coordinating our State events and meetings. 

The following are a few highlights from the Grand Council Meeting: 

I would like to begin by thanking the Centinela Valley Lodge for allowing us to hold our meetings in their hall. I especially would like to thank Lodge President Annette Porter (what a worker), Mark Vaona and Steve Guthrie for the delicious meals and the warm hospitably they extended towards us. Our Council Meeting was dedicated to our recently deceased Past State Officers and Members, and for all our ailing members. 

Our Financial Secretary Gabe Domenici shared the financial reports for the General Fund and Western Foundation-both funds are in the black. 

Our Western Foundation CAO Roy Vanoni reported on the work done by the Perpetual Scholarship Review Committee to develop clearer guidelines for administering these scholarships. Roy reported that the Annual Sons of Italy Western Golf Classic will take place on October 2nd this year in Chico. $1,000.00 was donated from the Italian Language & Culture Fund to support Italian Clubs in 2 different high schools. It is so important that we support these young students in their efforts to learn the language, and share their Italian Culture within their schools. Don’t forget to reach out to your local high schools and colleges to help with their Italian Clubs and programs. You’d be amazed how these young people want to learn more about their Italian ancestry, and it is a good way to invite them into our lodge families. 

The Scholarship Committee was busily working on Friday and Saturday evaluating this year’s 180 applications. Rosemarie Vanderhaar, the Chair, announced Saturday afternoon that the Scholarship Award Winners had been chosen. This is a very difficult task with the large numbers of outstanding applicants and so few scholarships being donated to Western Foundation lately. 

Membership Chair Joe Simoni presented a New Membership Questionnaire and a sample for a new Membership Brochure that he will be presenting at Convention. 

Judiciary Chair Al Girolami presented the internal By-Laws requested by the Saddleback Valley and Renaissance Lodges. He also presented the By-Law changes submitted by Hanford and Roma Lodges on reducing the number of State Delegates for Convention, and one submitted by the Cristoforo Colombo Lodge to change the term of the State President back to one 2 year term instead of two 2 year terms. 

Be sure to check out our Website. Anna Graeber, the new Webmaster, has added many new changes. A calendar has been created for each lodge, District and the State. Submit your various lodge events, and everyone will be able to view the calendar to see the events taking place at any lodge within our Grand Lodge jurisdiction. She also is planning a mini workshop at Convention to assist you in your local lodge websites and making this part of the Grand Lodge Website as well as making it easier to access. 

Our Youth Chair Brian Watson has a packed full agenda for those youngsters that will be attending Convention. 

The rental of the building has picked up thanks to the Mission Rehearsal Management team. 

The Grand Council approved the Grand Lodge of California sponsoring a Bronze Sponsorship (two tickets and an ad in the Journal) to the upcoming NELA Gala on May 25th to be held in Washington D.C.. Donations to the Auction, sponsoring a table or a Wounded Warrior for this event are graciously requested. Contact the Grand Lodge Office for more information. 

I would like to thank our State Queen Mary Lucido for attending the Grand Council Meeting and the dinner honoring Chris that evening. Her enthusiasm and dedication to the Order and her Italian Heritage is a breath of fresh air, and is a true inspiration. 

You will be receiving all the information that you need to attend this year’s State Convention. If you have not submitted your Convention Delegate list, please submit ASAP. Bocce will take place on Wednesday, June 22nd at 4:00. The Convention Package will be $220 each for all 3 events. The Thursday President’s Luncheon will be $40. Room rates will be $112++ with free parking. This is a great time to network and socialize with your fellow members. Guests are always welcome. Looking forward to seeing many of you at Convention. 

In closing, Bill and I wish all of you a very Happy and Blessed Easter.

Carolyn Lawrence-Murphy
State President

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