National Italian American Foundation Establishes Italian American Relief Fund

The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) has established the Italian American Relief Fund, an effort uniting Italian American organizations, corporations and individuals with a single objective of assisting our Motherland in times of need. The coordinated effort will provide immediate response whenever natural catastrophes and other disasters occur in Italy.

One of the first projects of the Italian American Relief Fund is to help Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno, a facility for disabled and mentally challenged individuals, ravaged by the recent Emilia Romagna earthquake. The Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno, located in the Villa Chierici of Santa Croce di Carpi, Modena, focuses on breaking the barriers that separate “the world of the disabled” from the rest of society. Villa Chierici serves as both an educational and rehabilitation center for 27 children with grave disabilities. The Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno looks after nearly 200 children in the area that have physical and/or mental disabilities.

The earthquake damaged the roof of the Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno’s rural residence, making it dangerous to use the facilities. NIAF has decided to focus its efforts on restoring the facility so that the children will be able to use the space once again.

“We extend our sincerest condolences to the victims and their families suffering from the recent earthquake. We are saddened by the loss of life, suffering and devastation caused by this tragic disaster that has claimed the lives of 26 innocent people. Our leadership and the Italian American community express its support and solidarity with the nation and people of Italy in these troubling times,” said NIAF President Joseph V. Del Raso, Esq.

According to the President of the Cooperativa Sociale Nazareno Sergio Zini, “Insecurity and uncertainty that the earthquake has generated….have been largely offset by the generosity and the many statements of solidarity we have received during this period from NIAF. Now, we can continue working with the disabled or ill people so that they can rediscover the meaning of life.”

“The initiatives goal is to raise $250,000 in donations by September 2012. Every dollar donated helps to meet the needs of many in the region. This is a dynamic opportunity to give monies directly to a wonderful program. This new website is a vehicle for the Italian American community to respond to situations of great need now and in the future. Through this site, we are combining our resources and strength to help the people of Emilia Romagna, and by uniting all groups in our community we can make our response faster and more substantial. We are united to give 100 percent of every dollar raised to our Italian brethren who need it most,” said, NIAF Chief Operating Officer John M. Viola.

The earthquake, with a magnitude of 5.9 on the Richter Scale, struck after a series of earthquakes that have been hitting the area since May 19, 2012. After the second quake, the number of people made homeless increased from 6,000 to 14,000, according to the Italian government. The damage to the agricultural industry in the region is estimated to be more than 200 million euros ($255 million). In San Felice sul Panaro, three towers of the town’s 15th-century castle collapsed as well as the roof of the Cathedral of Mirandola. The aftershock sheared in two the Torre dei Modenesi, the medieval stone tower that forms part of the city hall in Finale Emilia.

Individuals, corporations and foundations wishing to partner in the Italian American Relief Fund, can make their donations online at All donations are tax deductible and receipts will be issued by NIAF. Checks can be made payable to NIAF and sent to NIAF/Italian American Relief, 1860 19th Street NW, Washington, DC 20009.

For more information about the Italian American Relief efforts in Emilia Romagna, visit Please direct any questions to  202-387-0600 or e-mail