WOONSOCKET – The Italian Workingmen’s Club’s longtime commitment to helping out in the local community will be honored during a celebration of the private social organization’s 85th anniversary on Sunday.
Club President Marc Zagaglia said the anniversary celebration will begin in the club’s upstairs function room at 1 p.m. and include remarks by club members, city officials, and members of the city’s General Assembly delegation and possibly even U.S. Rep. David Cicilline, depending upon his Washington schedule.
“We’ve invited all of the City Council members, Mayor Leo T. Fontaine and our General Assembly representatives Lisa Baldelli-Hunt, Stephen Casey, Robert Phillips, and senators Marc Cote and Roger Picard,’’ Zagaglia said. Representatives of the city’s other service organizations, such as Cercle Laurier, and its community groups are also invited to attend, he said.
After the short speaking program, appetizers and food will be served while films and slide shows on the club’s involvement in local youth and school athletics and its founding and service work are displayed on large televisions set up in the room. The film on the club’s founding was prepared for a recent exhibit that had been placed in the city’s Museum of Work & Culture’s upstairs gallery, according to Zagaglia.
The Italian Workingmen’s Club was originally founded in 1928 by three city residents meeting in an upstairs room at the former Dimeglio’s Pizza restaurant at the corner of Social Street and Diamond Hill Road, Zagaglia said. The growth of the organization prompted its members to relocate to a spacious two-story headquarters they built at 947 Diamond Hill Road that is still its home today.
The building once offered a downstairs bocce ball court that can still be seen in the basement, and today features a first-floor lounge for its 600 members that features large-screen televisions, a pool table, a jukebox, a large full-service event kitchen, and the upstairs banquet hall.
Zagaglia, who has served as club president for 14 years, said he remembers when the club also hosted its own small parades on Diamond Hill Road with a similar organization, The Am Men’s Club of Derby, Conn., many years ago.
The club still draws a big crowd to its parking lot for the Autumnfest Parade and sells hot dogs and hamburgers to parade viewers looking for something to eat during the march.
It is such fundraising endeavors that help the club continue its community work in supporting a list of charities, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, Ronald McDonald House, the Milk Fund, and many more. Last year the club opened its doors for the Milk Fund dinner and will offer that fundraiser for the organization again this year on Dec. 5, Zagaglia said.
“The club is well known for the work it does in the community,” Zagaglia said. Over the past 16 to 17 years, club members have helped in raising more than $100,000 for scholarships for community students. The Italian Workingmen’s Club has also provided use of its hall for special fundraising events for area families facing the costs of major illnesses, he noted.
Its annual events for club members, such as its Christmas party, May Breakfast and two Porkettas during the year, are also always well attended, he said.
“It is really a great bunch of people and a great organization,” Zagaglia said. “We are out there to help the community, and that is what this organization is all about.”