Over 125 years ago, the Italian Club was founded by a small visionary group who realized that by uniting together, the Italian community could overcome many of the social and economic challenges that confronted immigrants from Italy who settled in the Tampa area. It is those very immigrants, whose commitment to their heritage and culture, laid the foundation not only for our organization, but for the Italian Community at large throughout Tampa Bay. Those very same immigrant families saw our organization through many moments in history, from the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic to the Great Depression, through both WWI and WWII, and many more. Now, more than ever, that same idealistic vision is needed as our community faces new obstacles, both locally and globally. It is with that in mind, that we are launching a grassroots, community fundraiser, to remind ourselves that as we face new challenges, if we remain resolute, we can overcome them together, as a community. To help bolster our efforts, our long-time friends and community partners at Valley Bank have committed to matching dollar-for-dollar donations up to $5,000!
As our organization now moves into its 126th Year, the image of gaunt, threadbare and downtrodden immigrants carrying suitcases, has been replaced by the appearance of thriving, fashionable, and confident entrepreneurs, educators, and professionals carrying briefcases. Today, the over 800 members of our Club, represent a cross-section of the population ranging all socio-economic structures. We celebrate the rich diversity we see in our organization as we work to expand our membership throughout the Tampa Bay region. While our organization no longer offers the same benefits it once did, our focus now is to ensure that our members are part of a larger family, something we believe is of the utmost importance in our preservation. In addition to this, our organization has worked diligently to preserve and protect our building and its history.
Two years ago, our building marked a major milestone, celebrating 100 years at the corner of 7th Ave on 18th St. Since that time, we have spent over $1.5 Million on restoration and preservation. This is part of a commitment extending through over five decades, with millions of hard-raised dollars going into the ongoing maintenance and preservation of the building, and towards our commitment to the Club’s mission. It is our belief, that beyond its beauty and architecture, the building stands as a testament to the Italian immigrants who founded this organization and laid roots in Tampa Bay. It serves to honor not only the blood, sweat, and tears of those that built it, but also to honor the Italian culture, heritage, and traditions they worked so diligently to protect and uphold. Today we remain committed to this mindset, as we continue to fundraise for remaining projects yet to be completed.
As we begin October and as we celebrate the rich history of Italian Heritage Month, we remain resolute in our mission to preserve and honor the culture, traditions, and heritage of the Italian Community. We remain committed to maintaining the historical facility as a functioning memorial to the working-class immigrants. We will support this mission through the
dues pledges and contributions provided by the members, their families, friends, and government. In return, we will continue to add value to the membership by providing social activities, fellowship, Italian arts and culture; these activities will provide for growth and stability in the membership, creating a safe and comfortable environment for our members, their families, and the community.
Thank you for allowing us to share our story, both past and present. Our partnership with the community represents one of the most valuable tools we have at ensuring the Italian culture and heritage remains prevalent in Tampa Bay today. Together, we represent the Italian Community as a whole, and together we can work towards the long-term preservation of our Italian culture and heritage, while simultaneously preserving the rich history of those who came before us and whose dedication and sacrifices have allowed us the opportunities we have today. Grazie Mille!