Vera Ferrara Girolami, Chairman    –    Joseph J. DiTrapani, President


Welcome to the 30th Annual National Education & Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala.

Tonight, we proudly honor two extraordinary Italian Americans as well as one family: Lawrence “Pete” Peduzzi; Dr. Michael J. Sofia; and The DelGrosso Family. We are also proud to be hosting several veterans as our guests for tonight’s gala.

In addition to these extraordinary honorees and courageous veterans, we celebrate the promising future of our Italian-American youth. This year’s Sons of Italy Foundation (SIF) scholarship winners were selected for a combination of exemplary academic performance, school leadership, and community service. The SIF and its national scholarship program are proud to contribute to the future of such students as they pursue higher education that will lead them to many impressive accomplishments down the road.

Finally, we come together on this night to recognize the Sons of Italy and its Foundation. To date, members have raised more than $165 million for charities and scholarships. This year, on Saint Patrick’s Day, the SIF presented a $25,000 donation to Help Our Military Heroes—the SIF’s fourth contribution in five years. The donation provided minivan grants for two disabled veterans. Tonight, we are fortunate to have those veterans in attendance and would like to recognize USNavy MCPO (ret) Austin Reese and USArmy COL (ret) Greg Gadson for their service and their sacrifice.

This evening, we should feel proud of the SIF’s commitment to giving back as well as the many other ways in which our Filial Lodges and Grand Lodges have given to those in need on a local, national, and international level. It is an evening such as this that allows us to honor these collective efforts and helps raise funds so that the SIF may continue its mission.