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Finding sisterhood inside ACIM’s warm embrace

There’s something to be said for women’s groups. Yes in the liberating 60’s, women wanted to get into men’s clubs. And I must admit as a youth I wanted that as well. Why shouldn’t women be allowed in -- we’re all equal, aren’t we?

But the world turns and the older I get the more I think maybe getting into men’s clubs wasn’t such an accomplishment. After all, we all need a space to be ourselves - just aplace to hang up our pretense, unload our three-piece heavy hearts and a sympathetic ear for our rants and raves. What better place than in the comfort and surround of our own sex? The nurturing, warm embrace of sisterhood welcoming a weary soul. From young women just starting out to retired grandmas, there is always an appropriate age group to commisserate, sympathize and lend an ear.

So I joined the Staten Island Women’s Division of the American Committee on Italian Migration (ACIM) this past Monday.Cousin Debbie is the corresponding secretary and I spend a lot of time with her anyway, so why not?

The mission of the group is to help Italians in their immigration and transition, philanthropic endeavors and to preserve the vibrant Italian culture in the community.The group has been in existence for 57 years. Through their contributions and donations they are able to assist the Italian American community as well as the National Organization.Through their chapter’s work they are able to support local parishes, provideunderprivileged children, disaster relief and sponsor a scholarship to a high school senior, just to name a few.

The women that tirelessly give of their time and charity are Geraldine Toth, president; Denise Sarno, 1st vice president; Audrey LoPresti, 2nd vice president; Debbie Korn corresponding secretary, Linda Guarneri, recording secretary and Grace Guagliardo, treasurer, as well as a host of others.

What a wonderful night it was -- the committee decided to sponsor an Italian games night, complete with an Italian deck of cards and the instructions to play Scoopa (or as Grandma Jenny would say, Scoopula).

It brought back such a rush of memories of long summer nights, playing Scoopula with my cousin Barbara and Grandma Jenny sitting in the screened-in porch. Grandma Jenny was never a good sport and when she would lose, which was often, she would rumble in her fractured English, “venti- nova,” which translates to 29. Why 29, who knows, it was a magic number to her and totally unmagical to us, but every time she said it we howled with glee because it meant that one of us had won.The laughs then were as now, joyful and unpretentious. Even though Grandma Jenny has been gone a long time, I was able to hear her utter that magical number faintly in the background as I played the game, but this time it was with a new generation of women, Debbie’s mom Patricia, my daughter Bri, my niece, Victoria, Elizabeth, a fellow member and her daughter -all different ages - but all sisters.

Not for nuthin’, what a way to spend a cold October night. Women’s Clubs --just like a hot cup of tea.

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