The Story of UNICO National
UNICO was founded in Waterbury, Connecticut, October 10, 1922. It’s founder, Dr. Anthony Vastola formed the organization with a group of businessmen and civic leaders in an effort to unite Italian Americans in an organization that would give strength and force against the discrimination of Italian Americans. It was time for law-abiding American citizens of Italian descent to offset the humiliations pressed upon Italian Americans. This was to be done by doing good deeds for others, thus the motto, “Service Above Self”. In addition, the organization would promote scholarships and the cultivation of our Italian heritage. The organization would differentiate itself in its measure of self-sacrifice, not for personal gain, but simply for the happiness found in America and it’s motto would be “Service Above Self”. The acronym was later to stand for Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity and Opportunity.
The idea of UNICO became successful and won acceptance from the community. Expansion to other cities became inevitable in Connecticut, then to New Jersey. The first convention was held in New York City in 1930. A similar idea had taken shape, unknown to the Eastern group, beginning in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1932 known as the National Civic League. This group, comprising of 15 chapters in the Midwest, joined with UNICO during 1947 and became UNICO National at a convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
UNICO National grants scholarship awards, promotes Italian Study Chairs, observes Columbus Day with fitting programs and participates in community and civic activities, and raises monies for children’s causes such as St. Jude, and other varied charities with specific emphasis on mental health programs and Cooley’s Anemia research. Overall, UNICO National has raised millions of dollars for these projects as well as millions of Dollars for disaster relief in the Midwest, California, Florida and in devastated areas in Italy.
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