Sons and Daughters of Italy in America

Watsonville Lodge No. 2016

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Our History:

Watsonville Lodge #2016 Order Sons of Italy in America was established in the City of Watsonville, California, on the beautiful Monterey Bay, on November 18, 1951, with James Spinetti serving as our first President.

From the beginning, our Lodge has included members born in or descended from many different areas of mainland Italy and Sicily.

To date, our Lodge has been led by a total of 17 Presidents:

Past Presidents

  • James Spinetti
  • Louis Marsano
  • Gino Stefannini
  • Joseph Piastri
  • Anthony Lima
  • Aldo Tadolini
  • Earl Van Dusen
  • Frank Nigro III
  • Frank Nigro III
  • Andrew Malatesta
  • Tony Tartala
  • Rita Stefannini
  • Ben Baldasano
  • Louise Garcia
  • Noemi Van Dusen
  • Robert Moresco
  • Lois Hagen
  • David Delfino

Our current President is Janey Malatesta Leonardich.

Since 1970 our major fundraiser for scholarships and various charities has been our annual Chicken Barbeque and raffle, which are held at the J.J. Crosetti Ranch in Watsonville. The delicious meal, generous portions, outstanding entertainment and camaraderie, and the quality of our multitudinous raffle prizes have made this a well recognized and popular event throughout the Central Coast.

Over the years income from spaghetti, polenta, corned beef dinners, our annual Chicken Barbecue, Breakfast at Applebee’s, Pizza Night at Cassidy’s Pizza and the Human Race walk-a-thon has made it possible for Watsonville Lodge #2016, OSIA, to fund our successful scholarship program and contribute to many worthwhile charities.

Our lodge has been an active member of the Grand Lodge of California, located in San Francisco, and the National Lodge, located in Washington, DC.

Our Mission:

The Mission of the Order of Sons of Italy in America is to promote and preserve the History, the Traditions, the Culture and the Language of Italy for the benefit of all humanity.

What We Do:

The Watsonville Lodge, OSIA, promotes the Italian Culture and Language, preserves Italian American traditions, history and heritage, as well as participates in philanthropic and social undertakings. Annually we donate to:

In addition, we support charitable causes as the need arises, including the Volunteer Center Human Race, the Watsonville Agricultural History Project, the Pajaro Valley Historic Association and the American Cancer Society Relay for Life, several other local non-profit organizations, and worldwide emergencies and disasters including hurricanes, earthquakes and tsunamis.

What is OSIA?

The Order Sons of Italy in America is Italian Americans celebrating our heritage and building a better tomorrow. It is the largest and longest-established national organization for men and women of Italian Heritage in the United States.

OSIA was begun in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City on June 22, 1905, by Vincenzo Sellaro, M.D., and five other fellow immigrants from Italy who came to the United States during the great Italian migration of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Their aim was to create a support system for all Italian immigrants that would assist them with becoming U.S. citizens and assimilating into American society. The early Lodges established free schools to teach English to immigrants, centers to help them become U.S. citizens, orphanages, homes for the elderly, scholarships, life insurance, mortuary funds and other aids for members in need.

During its history, OSIA has been involved in promoting immigration legislation; assisting in the assimilation process; supporting cooperation, trade and diplomatic relations between the United States and Italy; initiating social and fraternal events; encouraging educational achievements through scholarships; serving local communities through a variety of cultural events and raising funds for local charities.

Today OSIA has more than 600,000 members and supporters and a network of more than 700 lodges.

First in Involvement:

“The basic thing that the Sons of Italy as an organization has done is to remind us that it is perfectly acceptable and, as a matter of fact, desirable to be both an American and a person who recognizes his or her own special origins.”

Mario M. Cuomo, Former New York Governor

First in Family Values:

“I was taught that family was always number one… before making movies, before any TV shows, before any recording contracts. Those ideals that were instilled in me come from deep Italian roots and deep Italian hearts.”

Annette Funicello, Actress