In the 1800s,Los Angeles used to have a vibrant Little Italy located in the historic center of the city, a place today known as El Pueblo de Los...
Coordinating the 46th Annual Columbus Day Grand ball, spending time with donors and other Ferragosto 2015 Committee members, and acting as President of the Sons of Italy keeps Jim Cardinale- Hill very busy these days.
“Our chapter of the Order Sons of Italy in America is one of the oldest chapters in Southern California,” said the President, who “works to tie the Italian Community together.” The President said the organization meets monthly to share the Italian Heritage of its members, usually over a “sumptuous” dinner at an Italian restaurant.
Although the chapter has had a heavy attrition rate, according to Hill, “We are trying to rebuild our organization and are picking up several newer, younger members each month. We are up to 30 active members as compared to 20 last year at this time. We are happy to get 20-25 members at our meetings.”
Wearing numerous other hats, Hill has been responsible for providing a meeting place for the displaced House of Italy (HOI) at Our Lady of the Rosary. The city has been renovating HOI’s regular meeting place in Balboa Park, and their meetings, thanks to Hill, have been held at the church’s meeting hall.
Acting as Vice-President of the Italian Catholic Federation for the church, Hill facilitates meetings, services and fund-raisers on behalf of the church, its community and members. “We provide scholarships to help seminarians as well as putting together venues to provide funding for our church’s upcoming 100 anniversary.”
Hill is currently very excited and enthusiastic about the upcoming Ferragosto 2015 event being held on August 15th at Little Italy’s Amici Park. He describes his efforts and those of the committee with whom he works as “providing strong finance and marketing strategies which require much time and effort.” He said he has been working on selling, marketing and underwriting activities to make this year’s event bigger and better than the past venues.
According to Luke Vinci, Secretary of the Little Italy Association, who has been associated with Ferragosto for the past two years, “It takes an entire year’s planning for this event. It is a seven hour party and the largest scenario of Italian-American Festa in the country. It is one event that we’re able to have all Italian-American groups step up to support. He added that the support is intended for OLR Church, Washington Elementary School, and of course the Little Italy community. “This event is 100% volunteer led,” added Vinci.
Hill’s contributions to his Italian community do not end in August. He chairs another committee with Co-Chair Stefano DiMenna and together they are coordinating events for this year’s 46 Annual Columbus Day Grand Ball.
“We’ve upgraded this year’s location to the Sheraton Mission Valley facility with a special meal and of course, wine and outstanding Italian desserts,” said Hill, who also mentioned that dance music and a special “Promenade of Queens and Princesses” will be provided as additional entertainment.
“We were able to keep the prices low because of generous contributions from friends and Italian associations, who were willing to support the extremely important cultural event,” recalled Hill. “We’ll also have an introduction of Italian VIPs and Italian-American Persons of the Year Awards,” said Hill, but did not want to mention names or “give too much away right now.”
Hill is of Genovese ancestry whose father was killed in WWII. Although born in San Diego County, he was raised in Marin County, lived for a while in Andover, Massachusetts, and later returned to live in San Diego. “My step-father came back here as a last duty assignment,” said Hill, whose father was in the military. It was in the early 1950s and we’ve been here ever since.”
Hill wore a Trustee of the Knights of Columbus of Our Lady of the Rosary Chapter pin and explained that he serves in that capacity as Minister of Hospitality and Member of the Pastoral Council.
“As a member of the pastoral council, I provide input, fundraising and underwriting ideas and concepts to promote growth and membership,” said Hill.
For the future, the man of many hats said he is working on plans for the new Piazza Famiglia now under construction in the middle of Little Italy. “We’re thinking of plans for outdoor concerts and other street-type venues.