It was Dr. Michael Terlizzi’s dream to create an Italian-American service organization in the Merrimack Valley to be modeled after UNICO National and to engage in charitable works, support higher education, and perform patriotic deeds and most especially retain a connection to our Italian Heritage.
An existing UNICO Chapter in Worcester agreed to sponsor the Merrimack Valley Chapter along with the support of the Springfield Chapter.
Led by Dr. Michael Terlizzi, UNICO Merrimack Valley was founded in March 3, 1990 in Andover, Massachusetts. A group of (31) prominent men of the Merrimack Valley, came together to create what has become a very special and proud organization.
The Original Charter Members were:
Lawrence J. Ardito
Donald J. Cannava
Vincent W. Caristo
Thomas F. Comparato
Jorge H. DeNapoli
Liberato A. Fusco, Ph.D
Samuel F. Gagliano
Joseph P. Giordano, DMD
Phillip J. Infurna
Raymond A. Melillo
Joseph F. Pedicino, MD
James F Ranallo
Nicholas A. Rizzo
Joseph A. Salvia
James M Santagelo
James F. Scaia
John I. Sciteppi
Anthony R. Silva, Jr.
John A. Simko
Michael J Terlizzi, MD
Richard D. Vitale
Today, UNICO Merrimack Valley has approximately 60 active members.
To promote and enhance the Image of Italian Americans; for members to be of service to the community; to promote Italian heritage and culture; to promote, support and assist charitable, scientific, cultural, educational, and literary projects; to promote members' interest in public welfare; and, to cooperate with others in civic, social and cultural development.
From a national standpoint, the name UNICO was selected as best representing the nature and the character of this fledgling organization. The name is the Italian word for “unique”, one of a kind. The founders believed that UNICO would be the only one of its kind because it placed service to the community before and above fraternity. At the same time they hoped that the rest of society would come to know and understand the real contributions of Italian Americans to our way of life. Its sole purpose was to unite all Italian Americans and motivate them to become more civic minded. In order to accomplish this, members would have to understand that they would have to make sacrifices, not for personal gain, but for service to others. In the ensuing years UNICO became an acronym that stood for Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity, and Opportunity.
A Promise that Continues to be Delivered
Since the inception of UNICO National in 1947, thousands of people and individual charities have been the recipients of UNICO's charity. Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised for national and international disasters. Typical of this generosity was the gift of $500,000 to create 10 buildings in Italy to house those suffering from the ravages of an earthquake disaster. UNICO's latest disaster relief effort was raising $30,000 for victims of the September 11th Twin Towers attack. One of the recipients was Windows of Hope which provided relief to those who worked in the restaurants and food services located in the World Trade Center.
Each year, UNICO Foundation and UNICO National Chapters donate approximately $1 million to various charities. Scholarships continue to be the primary focus, as roughly one-third of all monies raised go to deserving students from chapter locations throughout the chain.
UNICO National has funded major research in Cooley's Anemia and Mental Health. Through its association with the Jimmy Valvano Foundation it has funded several $50,000 grants to help find a cure for Cancer. These worthy areas continue to receive generous support from the chapters and its members for these worthy causes.
UNICO National has taken a lead position in combating the negative stereotype of Italian Americans, in the electronic and the print media. The Anti-Bias committee is recognized as one of the leaders in this important battle. Through its efforts UNICO has become recognized as a true leader in this important battle.
It is in higher education that UNICO National has established itself as a true leader of the Italian American community. In 1986 the UNICO Districts and Chapters were asked to support the creation of the first Endowed Chair in Modern Italian History, in the United States, at the University of Connecticut. After an arduous campaign this small group was responsible for raising over $250,000 toward the $1 million objective. The campaign was completed in 1992 and Professor John Davis was appointed to be the first Noether Chair in Modern Italian History.
For more information on UNICO National, click onto www.unico.org