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 recently we have had one deluge of wet weather followed by another. We no sooner dry out when we are hit by another deluge of rain. That is what seems to have happened within our Grand Lodge these past few months. One after another we have lost many of our dear and beloved Past State Officers, Local Lodge Officers, and in some cases their family members. Our condolences and prayers go out to the Simile, Romanazzi, Grist, Petrella, Baroni and Lavezzari families. We will miss these dear members of the Order and the love and support they gave the Order. As it states to the families in the Funeral Ritual, the Order will always be there to for you. 

The National Winter Plenary Session took place in Dallas, Texas from February 9th – February 12th. Past State President and 1st National Vice President Vera Girolami, Immediate Past State President and California National Trustee Maria Pignati, 1st State Vice President Arlene Nunziati and myself attended this session. The following are several highlights I would like to share with you from these meetings: A thorough financial report was shared by National’s CPA Jeff Drake. The good news is that the Supreme Lodge, the Sons of Italy Foundation, and the CSJ are all functioning in the black. I am also happy to report that the Supreme Lodge is not considering an increase in dues. The following are several financial reminders: all lodges must file a 990 N report yearly and send a copy to the Grand Lodge. There has been a change in the 990 N on-line filing address – the new one is www.irsgov/charities. If you have an event or received money for a charity – all contributions must be donated to those charities and not be used by lodges for other expenses. It was suggested that the Grand Lodges send their charitable donations to the Supreme Lodge yearly rather than bi-annually. Remember in California, the Grand Lodge is a 501 C8 while the Western Foundation is a 501 C3. Contact State Financial Secretary Gabe if you have questions. 

They discussed the hierarchy governing OSIA - it begins with OSIA’S Constitution, the Supreme Lodge By-Laws, the Grand Lodge By-Laws, and last but not least Robert’s Rules of Order. Each may not be in conflict with the highest one. By-laws must be followed accordingly. By-Laws submitted by a Grand Lodge must be submitted to the Supreme Council for approval and sent 45 days prior to the National Convention. All Filial Lodges are chartered by National and therefore under the National jurisdiction. 

Declining membership is a big issue throughout the country. We are moving forward in a positive direction, but at a crossroad – we must make changes to meet today’s challenges. We need to market our Brand, redo and simplify our mission statement in order to reach all ages. (there has been a cultural change since we were founded in 1905). Networking with each other is important and a successful tool. An exciting membership news item was that a new lodge was installed on a University Campus in Pennsylvania (young college students excited about joining us and learning more about their Italian Heritage and sharing it with others). Can California do the same? Have we reached out to any universities or colleges? Can we assist our high schools in setting up Italian Clubs and becoming part of our lodges? Retention of members is of utmost importance. Stop the bleed! How many of us follow up and find out why a member is absent or leaves the lodge? When new members join, welcome them to your meetings and into our family, get them involved, and make them feel wanted and needed. We must give members a reason to want to attend our meetings. We need to make everyone accountable - we are all part of the family. It is easy to sit back and say, “What does Supreme, the Grand Lodge or my lodge do for me?” Instead ask yourself what can I do for them? All officers, you need to listen to your members, be visible and available for them. Past officers, it is your responsibility to guide the new officers – be their mentor. The Supreme Lodge produced a Lodge Operating Manual in 2014 with many suggestions, ideas, etc. on running a lodge. It can be obtained on the National Website. 

The name change using “sons and daughters” has been filed and can be used. An official vote will take place at the National Convention this August. 

The Supreme Lodge is in the process of developing a new Website (they are working with the Centis Co.). It will be completed by the end of April and presented at the National Convention. It is important that all Grand Lodges submit complete membership data to Supreme. Your information will not be sold or released to any other companies. 

A Youth Summit is being planned by Supreme to take place in 2017 (October/ November) for high school juniors and seniors and college freshmen and sophomores. It would involve 40 students (20 rooms) to be held in Washington D.C. on a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. The cost would be around $250. per student for room and board. The students would be responsible for their own transportation. It would be great if our Grand Lodge could raise funds at our State Convention and sponsor 2 students to this Youth Summit. Not only would they be visiting the National Office, learning more about the Order, meeting and building relationships with fellow members from throughout the country, but also would be visiting the center of our National Government. A truly great learning experience! 

CSJ is still facing many issues regarding Columbus Day throughout the country. Kevin Ciara has been busily sending letters to state governors and legislators regarding the issue of retaining this Federal holiday. They are working on getting a bill passed to keep Columbus Day at the National level. We must let them know that we are strongly opposed to having Indigenous Peoples’ Day replace Columbus Day. This holiday is a symbol of all Italians Immigrants and their contributions to America. Keep sending those petitions in – the deadline is April 30, 2017. 

The Sons of Italy Foundation’s NELA Gala will be held on Thursday, May 25th at the Omni Hotel in Washington D.C. The event will be quite different this year. There will be a Silent Auction during cocktails and dinner. Four days prior to the Event, the auction will be online so all can bid on these items. They are asking each Grand Lodge to supply sponsors for the Souvenir Book, a table for the Dinner, and items for the auction. Again, they will be inviting wounded warriors to attend the event ($250. per person) and donations toward purchasing a van ($20,000) to help one of our disabled military heroes. This is their one big event of the year to support charities and scholarships. 

The National Convention will take place on August 14 - 19 in Sarasota, FL this year. Hotel costs will be $149. ++. Will share more information at the State Convention. 

Two days after returning from Dallas, Bill and I, as well as 47 family members and close friends, flew to Maui, HI to celebrate Bill’s son Mike and his daughter-in-law Leslie’s 25th Wedding Anniversary. What a wonderful and special time for all of us! We returned from Paradise to work that Saturday, February 25th on our annual Saint Helena / Napa Crab Feed – the call of duty. 

You will be reading this prior to our Grand Council Meeting which will be taking place in Torrance at the Centinela Valley Lodge’s Hall on March 18th. You are all invited to attend. That evening we will be honoring Chris Lotito for the many years he served as the State Convention Chair. A dinner will take place at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Torrance. If interested in attending any of these events, contact the Grand Lodge Office. 

March is the month to honor our Irish and Italian Saints. Happy Saint Patrick’s Day and Happy Feast of Saint Joseph!

Carolyn Lawrence-Murphy
State President

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