Saddleback Valley Lodge finished 2019 with a festive Christmas party and anticipation of a new year filled with activities with several new members. These are the ingredients for a successful year for the Sons and Daughters of Italy in America. With 2020 ahead, we celebrated January with our favorite game—Bingo. And then there was preparation for our annual Carnivale in February. A new venue gave us a better place to hold our party and make it even more elaborate. It was our best celebration ever! Delicious food, music & dancing, and a costume contest made the event spectacular! At the regular meeting we celebrated St. Valentine’s Day where our President gave all the women a rose. How will we ever match this in 2021? St. Patrick’s Day is always a reason to have a party. We heard rumors of a Chinese virus coming to the USA from Europe & China. We were lucky enough to have our March meeting just one day before everything was shut down due to the Covid 19 virus. Surely, this would be over after Easter. Wrong! The virus stopped all formal activities for the rest of the year.
Things began to close down, businesses and schools. This virus is especially severe for people over 70. That includes nearly everyone in our lodge. Because this virus was unknown to us, it had to be researched and studied. Plans for vaccines were initiated and we thought that by summer the country would get a medication. What were we thinking? Covid 19 is complicated and foreign and would require many protocols to figure out a plan to protect the American population. Shutdowns helped at first, plus we learned to wear masks, social distance and wash our hands. (Isn’t that what our mothers always told us?)
This is not something that the Saddleback officers wanted for our lodge. By July 18th, our President Hank Lowinger, planned a safe activity for members. We gathered in Mission Viejo for a picnic. We all wore masks, used sanitizing lotion and stayed 6 ft away from each other. We all brought our own food and the lodge provided drinks. So exciting to see one another! So in August we had another picnic with the same rules and regulations. All members have obeyed the quarantine and have remained healthy throughout the summer. In September, two of our Council Members Al Schlappy and Tony Marraccino and the rest of our officers figured out how to set up a movie theater outside. We watched a hilarious Italian movie, “The Worst Week of My Life.” The council served pizza & salad and the members brought dessert. We had figured out once again how to safely congregate. That event, coupled with talk of several vaccines, allowed us to look forward to 2021. In October, many members gathered in Laguna Woods to help Louise & Andy Pampuro celebrate 70 years of marriage! We sang “That’s Amore” and “Happy Anniversary” all the while observing social distancing. It was wonderful to share this day with them. The Pampuro’ s will soon be 50-year members of the Sons & Daughters of Italy in America. Our last meeting was another picnic with a toy collection for Toys 4 Tots. We distributed toys and fun for the USMC. We also provided for an adopted family of eight with some Christmas cheer.
This has been a difficult year for us all. Not only fear of the virus, but also social distancing from our families, our friends, our lodge and even our neighbors! At this juncture, it is timely to consider what has held our lodge together. It’s the love of Italy, the warmth of Italian culture and most of all the enduring friendships created by our close associations with each other. We have become more than just a lodge. We have become dear friends. This is the bond we share, allowing us to weather any crisis. Everything changed! Children were not in school; adults were not at work and our age group remains safely sequestered in our homes.
We give thanks to our President, our Council and their dedication to keeping the Lodge alive and healthy. In November we had elections, practically all the Council remained the same. All positions were approved by acclamation.
So many things have disrupted our lives—social unrest, riots, political antics and disgust with our leaders. The restrictions that threaten our businesses, especially retail and restaurants, are horrible. SO, we wait patiently for the vaccines. And now they are here! Within 60 days our age group will receive the miraculous “jab.” Then we can resume our meetings and dinners and celebrations. We’re all ready to take on 2021. Who knows exactly what the year will bring? But we do know that we’ll soon be able to see our friends again. Oh, to share love & laughter. That nasty virus will be gone, but our friendships will last forever!
5051 Mission Street
San Francisco CA 94112-3473
Phone: (415) 586-1316