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Foundation Provides Aid to Earthquake Ravaged L’Aquila


Foundation Delegation to Italy Explores Partnerships, Provides Aid to Earthquake Ravaged L’Aquila

In mid-January 2012, a delegation of Foundation members met with Italian leaders to discuss present and future sponsorships in the Foundation’s Columbus Celebrations and delivered on a promise to the earthquake-stricken city of L’Aquila.

In a packed four days, from January 17 to 20, Foundation President Frank G. Fusaro, Chairman Louis A. Tallarini and Board Member Eugene N. Nardelli visited six cities and towns and covered over 500 miles on the Autostrada and smaller roads. Along the way, they met with leaders and officials in Italy, from private industry and tourism to mayoral and city council levels to that of the Italian cabinet. The first stop for the delegation was the offices of Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi di Sant’Agata, who until recently had been the Italian Ambassador to the United States. As ambassador, Minister Terzi had played a key role in partnering with the Foundation to reinstate The College Board’s Advanced Placement Program in Italian Language and Culture. During the meeting held in the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as in a later letter to Mr. Fusaro, Minister Terzi expressed his appreciation both for the Foundation’s support of AP Italian and its aid to L’Aquila. The meeting extended into a reception held for the Foundation’s delegation. That night, Minister Terzi’s office issued a press release about the visit and the Foundation’s commitments to Italy, which was picked up throughout Italy.

In subsequent meetings in the nation’s capitol, the delegation met with representatives of the City of Rome’s economic development team and with Edmund Cirielli, President of the Province of Salerno and Parliamentary Defense Commission Chairman. En route to L’Aquila, the delegation visited Naples, the city of Benevento, and the town of Castelvenere, where they held meetings with Paolo Romano, President of the Regional Council of Campania, leaders of regional industry and tourism concerns, Castelvenere Mayor Alessandro Di Santo and members of the City Council.

On the morning of January 20, the delegation traveled to L’Aquila, a city that nearly three years after the April 6, 2009 earthquake continues to rebuild. Today, approximately 18,000 L’Aquila residents continue to live in temporary housing constructed on the outskirts of the city.

The Foundation’s delegation met with officials to present L’Aquila and Abruzzo with a much-needed Mobile Police Unit and to announce an ongoing scholarship that will fund studies in New York for a local student of the arts. They also participated in the unveiling of Eagle Portrait, a sculpture donated by internationally renowned artist Greg Wyatt, who is Sculptor-in-Residence of the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in New York City and Master Teacher of the Foundation’s Franco Zeffirelli Scholarship Fund for the Arts program. The donation was made in association with the Newington-Cropsey Foundation, of Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. Describing the event as “a feast of solidarity,” L’Aquila council woman Stefania Pezzopane said, “L’Aquila expresses its greatest gratitude to the Foundation, which in its solidarity with our community is donating a Mobile Unit that we could never afford. Three years after the tragic event, it is very important for us to know that there are still people thinking about us and working to help us.”

“On April 6, 2009, the City of L’Aquila and the Province of Abruzzo suffered a devastating earthquake that took hundreds of lives, left thousands injured and many more homeless, and destroyed or damaged thousands of buildings and monuments in this great medieval city,” said Mr. Fusaro. “The event was as devastating to them as the 9/11 terrorist attacks were to us. When the earthquake struck, the Columbus Citizens Foundation contacted officials here to let them know that they were in our hearts and that we would stand at the ready to provide aid as needed. That day has come, and we have not forgotten our solemn vow to our brothers and sisters in Italy.” “As representatives of an Italian-American organization, we are proud and privileged to share a common ancestry with the people of L’Aquila and Abruzzo,” said Mr. Tallarini. “Their plight and determination, their resourcefulness and their continuing need must not be forgotten.”