I came to the Italian American Heritage Foundation about 4 yrs ago. It was then that I met a beautiful woman at the "Festa" in downtown San Jose. The festa is an event that celebrates Italian culture during one weekend of August.
The woman I met turned out to be a distant cousin. She invited me to join the IAHF and to come to some of their events. When I first started coming to these events, I was enthralled. The events were family oriented with lots of volunteer support. But what really struck me was the sense of community and belonging that was present. It reminded me so much of the special feeling of acceptance and belonging that I had felt when I was a child. As a young man I would often participate in family get togethers with my grandparents. And here was that same warm and nurturing feeling.
The IAHF does many things, but the thing they do best is to share this warm very Italian sense of family and respect for heritage with their community. The IAHF engages in many events that generate this sense. Just some of the events and get-togethers are: The "Festa", Polenta dinner night, Opera Night, St. Joseph's day, monthly luncheons, and more.
Language classes are a popular contribution of the IAHF. Italian language classes are educational and a healthy way to activate young and old minds. Instruction in these classes not only familiarize students with language skills but also teaches the history and culture of Italy.
Our Festa is our premier event of the year. It is always free and open to the public. It is held in the summer of each year in downtown San Jose. Our "Festa" features a cultural tent where people can learn about the history of Italians in Santa Clara County and beyond. Many people find their family roots on maps and through literature. There are also lectures and story-telling for young adults. The "Festa" also offers authentic Italian food from spaghetti and meatballs to cannoli. There is music, games--Bocce Ball, raffles, a grape stomp and many other activities to enjoy.
Every month at the IAHF features a luncheon that honors a different region of Italy. We cook foods that come from that region and give presentations with projected visuals of the culture and the famous people of that region. At these luncheons people connect with old friends and make new ones.
Once a year events:
Saint Joseph's Day (La Festa di San Giuseppe) This is a beautiful event were members fully participate by bringing meals and desserts. Proceeds are shared this year with the Salvation Army and Our Daily Bread.
Opera Night, Polenta Dinner Night, the Spring Fling, Crab Feed, and other events are enjoyed by our members and the community at large.
The IAHF is working hard to include youth in its programs. Many students from various high schools and colleges find volunteering a rewarding activity. We are reaching out to folks of all ages to find how rewarding it can be to share, participate and volunteer in the great Italian Heritage.