Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Roma Lodge has had to postpone their 90th Anniversary Celebration, April meeting and annual ravioli dinner scheduled for May 9th. However, they have been active conducting lodge business through emails and social media. Back in November Roma Lodge members were introduced to the Garden of Innocence program at the Visalia Cemetery. The program needed urns, blankets and small toys used in ceremonies for the burial of abandoned babies. Roma Lodge members Frank Marinelli and wife Renee took on the challenge. What started as a shop project for his students ended when the pandemic closed school. Frank took the initiative to go in on his own and finish the construction of the urns, decorated them with religious symbols and painted them. Renee worked with a church group and made all the individual blankets. They also provided the small toys to go into each urn. They will be presented to the Visalia Cemetery on behalf of Roma Lodge. Frank and Renee have donated all the materials and time for this great cause. If you would like to know more about the program you can go to their website https://www.gardenofinnocence.org/
Roma Lodge also has also given $4,000 in scholarships this year. Four to junior members and four to local high school students of Italian descent.
Roma Lodge Junior Members
It is difficult to find an “A” on Gianna Benedetti’s transcript. That is because many of her grades are “A+” with no “B’s” or any other grades. That is why she has a 4.83 GPA and is ranked #1 in her class! In one of her letters of recommendations it is stated, “Gianna is a natural born leader. She is trustworthy and considerate of others while not compromising her core beliefs.” Gianna is a senior at Tulare Western High School and will be attending Cal Poly in the fall majoring in Architectural Engineering. Her list of school activities, sports, club memberships and volunteer work has been exceptional during her secondary education. Gianna is our Roma Lodge Queen and represented the lodge as “Miss California” at the Grand Lodge Convention. She states in her essay, “It feels unique, and I am blessed to be surrounded by people in an organization who genuinely care about one another’s wellbeing and reestablishing their Italian culture. I am proud third-generation member because we have created a lasting family with our Italian blood.” Gianna is the daughter of Louie and Tiffany Benedetti.
Caleb Curti is an 8-year member of Roma Lodge. In his essay he writes, “Being a member of Roma Lodge has influenced by Italian culture so much. If I never became a member, I would have missed out on learning so much about my culture and heritage.” Caleb reflects on his years as a member in helping his grandfather Ken Curti cook at a variety of Roma Lodge events from the annual Christmas party, ravioli dinner, farm show and other lodge activities. His teachers often comment on his work ethic, motivation to get to work as soon as he enters the classroom and his dedication to fulfilling his career goal in agriculture someday. Caleb is the son of Roma Lodge member Clint Curti.
The director of the Paramount Childcare Center comments, “Gianna Haener is pleasant to work with, proactive in seeing what needs to be done and making sure the task is complete, she takes on responsibility with a sense of ownership and pride, and is patient and caring with all of our little ones.” These are impressive accolades for a 17-year-old student who juggles a very busy work, school and sports schedule while maintaining a 3.7 GPA at Centennial High School in Boise, Idaho. Gianna is an all-star volleyball player who plans to attend the University of Idaho next fall and major in pre-med to become a Physician’s Assistant. Her volleyball coach states, “when I think of Gianna, I think of natural leadership.” Gianna is the daughter of Roma Lodge member Kristin Haener and husband Tom and granddaughter of Gary and Dawn Dutto.
Her FFA Meats Judging Team coach describes Delaney Shaw this way, “I’ve been fortunate to watch this energetic young lady mature into the confident individual she is today.” Delaney is a senior at Central Valley Christian School and plans to attend Kansas State University in the fall to major in Animal Science. She played softball and is active in the FFA and other leadership activities while maintaining a 3.7 GPA. In her essay, Delaney documents her trip to Italy where she visited the small town of Albonico overlooking Lake Como. She was impressed to see where her Italian ancestors had come from in Italy. She is the daughter of Roma Lodge members Jason and Lisa Shaw and the granddaughter of Carol and Dennis Burner. She is the great-great granddaughter of Lorenzo Raviscioni who served as president of the lodge in 1934-36 and the great granddaughter of Pierina Raviscioni Minoletti who was a long-time historian of the lodge.
Barrett (Bear) Nunley
When Ersilia Groppetti traveled through the harbor at Ellis Island, as one of 3 million immigrants from Italy, in the early 1900’s she could not have envisioned having a great-great grandson who would be a 3-year captain of not only his football but his wrestling team as well at Tulare Joint Union High School. Bear Nunley is an outstanding athlete playing football, wrestling and golf. Getting EYL All League recognition in football, MVP in Wrestling or advancing to the valley championship in golf makes him an exceptional athlete. By the way, he also excels in academics being a CSF Lifetime member, has a 4.2 GPA, a leader in student government, FFA and has already completed 45 semester units of college coursework while still in high school! He still found time to volunteer service hours to Toys for Tots, canned food drives, gifts and food to the Lighthouse Rescue Mission and delivered Soled Out for Kids Program. He plans to attend USC in the fall. I bet they hope he does! His parents are Greg and Michelle Nunley.
Sophia Mauck attends Harmony Magnet School in Strathmore. Sophia’s ancestors came from Italy in the mid-20th century and settled in New York where they were in the meat butchering business. Years later their son decided to move to California and opened the Buckaroo Inn in Three Rivers. This is where Sophia gets her love of cooking Italian food. Her focus at Harmony was in dance, which gave her instructor to provide these observations of Sophia, “Her focus, ability to learn quickly, diverse talents, strong academic skills, ability to work with others, positive attitude, professionalism, tenacity, motivation, incredible leadership skills, diplomacy, communication skills and desire to help others will help her to be successful in college and beyond.” Her 4.2 GPA and love of cooking has her focused on a college education and someday studying cooking in Italy to develop talents and love of Italian food. Her parents are Anthony and Lynn Mauck.
Whether you want a milkshake from Top of the Morn’ Milk Shack or your picture taken by someone who has done it professionally Macie Movsesian is the person for you. A student at Tulare Western High School she has a long list of accomplishments in and out of the classroom. She has maintained a 3.83 GPA while being active on the yearbook staff, volleyball team, student government and a variety of other clubs and activities. Her resume lists over 120 hours of volunteer work and she plans to attend Hawaii Pacific University in the fall. One of her recommendations sited, “She is very trustworthy, hones, compassionate and hard-working young lady.” Her parents are Michael and Anna Clinkenbeard.
The University of California at Irvine is where Jasmin Sanchez will be attending school in the fall majoring in psychology. She is currently a senior at Mission Oak High School where she has excelled in sports playing volleyball, cross country, soccer and competing in track and field. She is a member of the California Scholastic Federation and has maintained a 4.1 GPA. Beside her extensive sports activities she also is active in student government and the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office Police Explorers. One of her letter of recommendations states, “I admire her for her intelligence, sincerity, honest, and integrity.” Jasmin’s parents are David and Maria Sanchez.
Sons and Daughters of Italy in America
Grand Lodge of California
P. O. Box 2467
Fairfield, CA 94533
Phone: (415) 586-1316