Wander the back streets of Murano and you can hear the roar of furnaces behind blind factory walls. The air trembles and there’s a perpetual orange...
For over a century, Italian Community Services (ICS) has been serving Bay Area individuals, families and the community. On Sunday, November 6, 2016, those 100 years will be celebrated in style at the Four Season’s Hotel in San Francisco when ICS commemorates ‘Cent’anni’, the one hundredth anniversary of helping people by being a trusted resource.
Italian Community Services’ tagline, ‘Preserving Our Culture, Serving Our Community’ sums up the Agency mission, and sets the stage for engagement of those who benefit from ICS services and people who are supporters. From young to old, from urban to suburban, from first, second, third and even fifth and sixth generation Italian-Americans along with those who are ‘Italian at Heart’.
Currently housed in San Francisco’s historic Fugazi Building, also known as Casa Fugazi, ICS was founded in 1916 to assist the Italian colony of San Francisco. The Italian-American Community has been an integral part of the economic and cultural fabric of California, and indeed the San Francisco Bay Area, since the 1800s.
Italians were some of the first European explorers and settlers of the San Francisco Bay Area. Early immigrants came initially on the recommendations of their friends and family and as a natural migration from other Italian immigrant enclaves. The spirit of community was a strong aspect of their new homes in the Bay Area. As late as 1890, there were more Italian immigrants on the Pacific coast than in New England. San Francisco’s North Beach became a welcoming new home, a Little Italy in large part because of the well-established community and a comfortable environment provided by organizations like Italian Community Services. It has historically been an important factor in the preservation and longevity of the Bay Area Italian-American Community.
Leading members of the Italian community, such as A.P. Giannini, Marco Fontana and Andrea Sbarboro, established the Italian-American Community Services Agency. They had a dream. Successful in their own lives, these leaders wanted to help their Italian brethren. Today’s ICS agency is housed in the historic North Beach building, often called Casa Fugazi, after prominent Italian businessman and benefactor John F. Fugazi.
Casa Fugazi itself has a remarkable history of serving the Italian community and was formally known as Casa Coloniale Italiana John F. Fugazi, a community center for the Italian Colony of San Francisco. Fugazi had promised to establish a community center for the Italian Colony of San Francisco following the 1906 earthquake and fire, but it wasn't until 1913 that the project began.
Casa Fugazi was built in 1913 on a parcel of land donated by Fugazi's second wife, Joanna Fugazi. The building was designed by Italian architect Italo Zanolini. Fugazi establish a trust to ensure that future generations of Italian-Americans would be able to utilize the building. The Trust, administered by the Italian-American Community Services Agency (formally known as the Italian Board of Relief and the Italian-American Welfare Agency), was established in 1916.
The legacy of men like John Fugazi has continued over many decades through the work of organizations like ICS. Today, ICS’s independently funded, community based programs are a model for community service organizations nationwide. ICS services help individuals and families access and manage the resources they need to live healthy, productive and independent lives. Through educational and cultural programs, ICS also works to preserve strong Italian traditions, language and culture to ensure they remain a source of strength and identity for this and future generations. ICS continues to build on the legacy of community.
You too can celebrate Italian Community Services’ ‘Cent’anni’ on November 6. The event at the Four Seasons Hotel in San Francisco begins with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and dinner will commence at 7:00 p.m. Ticket price is $250 per person. Payment can be made by check, payable to Italian Community Services, and mailed to Italian Community Services, 678 Green Street, San Francisco, CA, 94133. You may also visit the ICS website at http://www. italiancs.com to remit with Paypal. You are welcomed to contact ICS Executive Director, Anna Maria Pierini, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 415-362-6423, with any questions.