Written by Margaret Whitely Friday, 02 April 2010 00:00
Admist tables festooned with centerpieces of black and white feathers, Cellini Lodge No. 2206 held one of its largest scholarship and charitable dinners in the history of the lodge tagging it as a “Black and White Ball.”
Under the capable hand of former Cellini Lodge founder and former State and national OSIA (Order Sons of Italy in America) president and chairman of the gala, Joseph Sciame, the entire event ran like clockwork.
This year the event was held at the Chateau Briand in Westbury and as the event started the sun setting allowing for a most beautiful backdrop through the windows of the second floor ballroom.
The honorees for the evening were three members of the Lodge, namely: Hon. Richard Nicolello, Richard DeMartino and Robert Valli, as well as international performer Giada Valenti. In addition to the dinner, an Annual Souvenir Scholarship/ Charitable Benefit Journal, that grosses funds in journal ads and helps to raise funds for qualified students and charities, was formally presented to the membership and guests that evening.
Honored for their many years as members of the OSIA, all Three “R’s – Nicolello, DeMartino and Valli were saluted as stalwart members of the New Hyde Park community, and as members respectively for 21, 14 and 34 years. They were honored for their civic and professional contributions as proud Italian Americans and for what they have accomplished: one as a Nassau County Legislator, the second as a vice-president of the State Bank of Long Island and the third as a former Town Receiver of Taxes and currently vice-president of HSBC. Their ongoing support of the Cellini Lodge of the Order Sons of Italy in America has been and continues to be paramount in their respective roles. They were hailed by their families as spouses and parents, their belief in faith and their respect for dedicated work in the professions they have held and currently enact.
Giada Valenti, an international performer, was greeted with enthusiasm for her support of Italian American activities, her staunch and positive image in the entertainment industry and for her spirit of goodwill here in the United States and abroad. During the course of the evening’s program she performed for the 255 guests who attended the “Black and White” Gala by the Cellini Lodge and its Foundation.
Gina Ferrara, recently re-installed as president of the Cellini Lodge for 2010-11, praised the Lodge for its efforts to make New Hyde Park and the surrounding community a better place to live. She said: “We of the Cellini Lodge are so very proud of all our members: Richard Nicolello, Richard DeMartino and Robert Valli. And, we warmly greet Giada Valenti. This 42nd year celebration is special, in that we attempt to raise needed monies for our beloved Scholarship/ Charitable Benefit Fund. Our Dinner Dance is the social highlight of the year’s events. As the lodge president, I am appreciative of the support of merchants and sponsors for our journal ads, as well as of all those who attend our annual event in honor of our distinguished honorees.”
Owing to the great respect by the OSIA family members throughout the local and extended geographic areas, many other lodge presidents and representatives attended the event. New York State President for the OSIA, Salvatore Lanzilotta and National First President Joseph DiTrapani, and other state and local lodge officials, were in attendance to congratulate the Cellini Lodge and its honorees. In fact, two other earlier OSIA national presidents were in the room as well, and they were Peter R. Zuzolo and Joseph Sciame, a first for the Cellini Lodge.
Annually, the Cellini Lodge dinner dance is the singular occasion for raising funds for the children of lodge members who qualify, as well as for others who meet the requirements of local high school competitions. Program funds are also raised to assist the community-at-large which requests of support throughout the year. The Souvenir Scholarship/Charitable Benefit Journal is created from those community advertisers and friend supporters who help with a published tribute to the honoree as well as for the past year’s scholarship recipients.
Since the founding of Cellini Lodge in 1968, the Lodge has provided close to 350 scholarships with over $275,000 collectively awarded. In the past few years, the Cellini Lodge/Foundation Scholarship Committee announced the creation of six new named scholarships, owing to the generosity of Cellini members, the late Anthony and Carmela Prisco, and Anthony DeBiase.
As well, in 2009 the Tedone Foundation sponsored two scholarships. In addition, senior level students at New Hyde Park Memorial, Herricks, Sewanhaka, Floral Park Memorial, Garden City and Great Neck South High Schools all benefit from a variety of Cellini recognition awards annually. As well, funds from the Journal are used for state charities supported by the NYSOSIA, such as: the Garibaldi Meucci Museum, NYSOSIA Commission for Social Justice, Cooley’s Anemia, Alzheimer’s, etc.
The Chairperson for the 2009 Scholarship Dinner Dance and Journal was Joseph Sciame and Alfonso Squillante served as Co-Chair and Ticket Chair. Assisting them was a committee consisting of many other Cellini Lodge members, including past presidents: Jean Gagliardo, Anthony Millazzo, Anna Mulea , Grace Serafini Ferrara and Angelo Ferrara.
In speaking with Joseph Sciame, a past president of the Cellini Lodge and now an OSIA National/State past president, and a driving force with the Cellini Scholarship Journal since the Cellini Lodge’s founding in 1968, he stated: “We are all proud of the Cellini Lodge: first, it is our own home lodge; second, with 414 members it is one of the largest lodges of the OSIA in New York State; and third, it is a model lodge in its organization and many activities within the community of New Hyde Park and the surrounding areas. Cellini Lodge attracts members from other communities because of its very involvement in the fabric of our society, by promoting education, culture and charitable giving. That is why we are all so proud of this Lodge. And this year, we were especially proud of our honorees, as they each have achieved in all their endeavors, especially for and in our society. They are each true Italian American role models for us all!”
Richard DeMartino is the vice-president and branch manager of State Bank of Long Island. He has more than 30 years in the banking industry since his graduating from Adelphi University cum laude with a B.S. degree in management and communications.
Prior to his banking career, DeMartino served in the United States Navy active duty in Vietnam from 1969 to 1973 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga.
Richard and his wife of 34 years, Vivian, have resided in new Hyde Park for the past 30 years where they raised their two daughter, who are teachers, Denise and Jennifer.
Active in the community, DeMartino is a past president of the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, vice commander of the VFW Post No. 120 in Garden City Park, member of Cellini Lodge, Knights of Columbus 2nd vice president of the Herricks Community Fund, board of directors of NAMI-Queens/Nassau Alliance on Mental Illness and the advisory board of the Academy of Finance at New Hyde Park Memorial High School.
Richard Nicolello has represented the 9th Leislative District since the inception of the Nassau County Legislature. He was the first chairman of the Legislature’s committee on Planning, Development and the Environment and helped establish a true committee system for the first time in Nassau. He also helped oversee the county’s first Comprehensive Master Plan and Open Space Plan. He is currently the chairman of the Finance Committee, vice chairman of the Economic and Community Development and Labor Committee and serves as a member of the Budget Review Committee and the Towns, Villages and Cities Committee.
Prior to joining the legislature, Nicolello was a member of the Board of Directors of the Water Authority of Western Nassau. He also served as a deputy town attorney for the Town of North Hempstead and as an aide to then-Assemblyman Dean Skelos.
Nicolello has been a practicing attorney since 1986. He is associated with the law firm of Congdon, Flaherty, O’Callaghan, Reid, Donlon, Travis & Fishlinger. He concentrates in the area of insurance law. Nicolello also served as counsel to the New Hyde Park/Garden City Board of Education from 1987 to 2009. He is admitted to the New York State Bar, Federal District for Eastern and Southern Districts and is also a member of the Nassau County Bar Association.
He is active in the following organizations: Member and past president of the New Hyde Park Kiwanis Club, helping to coordinate the club’s sponsored youth programs in the local elementary and high school, member of the Mineola Lions Club, member of the Columbian Lawyers’ Association, the professional association of Italian American attorneys, associate director of the Irish Americans in Government, member of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, Third Degree member the Knights of Columbus, member of the Notre Dame parish, member of the Elks Club, New Hyde Park Lodge, former coach of Wildcats Soccer, member of the Parks Civic association, member of the New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, member-at-large of the Shelter Rock District, Theodore Roosevelt Council, Boy Scouts of America, Honorary Policy Committee Member of the Jewish Advisory Network for Security on Long Island and Co-chairman of the American Committee on Italian Migration.
Nicolello received his bachelor of arts degree in government and politics (magna cum laude) from St. John’s University and his Juris Doctor from Fordham Law School.
Nicolello is a lifelong resident of New Hyde Park and he and his wife Susan have two children, Kathleen, who is in college and Patrick who attends New Hyde Park Memorial High School.
Robert Valli is a vice president in public banking at HSBC Bank. He was born in Brooklyn, attended local schools and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High in 1956. He received a BA degree in economics from City College and an MBA, with distinction in banking and finance from New York University.
He started his career at Chemical Bank and was named assistant manager. In 1966 he joined Indian Head, Inc. as corporate investment manager and in 1969 accepted the position as assistant to the treasurer at Standard & Poors, Inc. He was promoted to assistant treasurer of McGraw Hill, Inc. a parent company of Standard & Poors in 1970.
Switching career paths in 1975, Valli ran for and was elected as North Hempstead Town Receiver of Taxes and held that position for 16 years, returning to the private sector when he accepted a vice-president position with State Bank of Long Island.
In the 1970s, he and his family were heavily involved with the Cub Scouts, the Brownies and the Boy Scouts. He was the treasurer of both the local pack and troop.
As a strong advocate for community service, Valli, for the past 32 years, along with elected and appointed officials and bank employees, has conducted guitar sing-a-longs at various senior citizen centers, Veteran’s Hospital, AHRC, Henry Viscardi Abilities Center, the Variety Learning Center, St. Joland Nursing Center, the Maryhaven Center of Hope and the St. James Nursing Home.
Valli has been a longtime performer of the Herricks Community Players, raising money for the Herricks Community Fund to assist, among others the Alzheimer’s Day Program at the Herricks Community Center. He has also participated in many athletic events for the benefit of MS and cancer research as well as a host of community projects. He has chaired fund-raising drives for the Heart Association and several years ago initiated a personally-funded scholars award program which benefits New Hyde Park/Garden City Park students graduating from elementary school.
Along with being a member of the Cellini Lodge he is also a member of the New Hyde Park Knights of Columbus, New Hyde Park Council, New Hyde Park Runners Club, and is on the board of the Suffolk County Girl Scouts and is the chairman of Our Land of Consolation Foundation in West Islip.
Valli and his wife Barbara have been married for 46 years and have lived in New Hyde Park for more than 43 years where they raised their three adult children Robert, Jr.(Jill), Jennifer (Peter) Zangari and Christopher (Mollie). They have five grandchildren; Robert, III, Sophia, Peter, Ronan and Finn.
Valli is an avid golfer and fitness buff who also enjoys tennis, sailing and astronomy.