By Carlotta Mohamed
In observance of National Italian-American Heritage Month, city Councilman Paul Vallone (D-Bayside) recognized two local leaders with New York City proclamations last week for their outstanding character and service to the community.
Vallone co-sponsored the event, “A Celebration of Italian Heritage,” Oct. 10 inside the City Council Chambers with City Councilmen Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge) and Mark Gjonaj (D-Pelham Bay).
“For centuries, Italian-Americans have helped shape the course of our nation’s history,” said Vallone. “Earlier this week, Gov. (Andrew) Cuomo honored Italy’s strong roots in the state when he announced that the Board for Historic Preservation listed New York City’s Central Park monument to Christopher Columbus on the State Register of Historic Places.”
The first honoree, Linda DeSabato was born in Brooklyn and currently resides in Bayside.
DeSabato, who has roots in both Sicily and Naples, has been involved in the transportation business in New York for more than 50 years. The Bayside resident has been at the helm of Vallo Transportation — located at 151-17 6th Road in Whitestone — since its inception 35 years ago. In 2013, DeSabato decided to expand on the company’s safety mission and developed an anti-bullying campaign.
Now in its fifth year, the campaign has reached more than 20,000 students, parents, and educators. Vallo has also donated bus transportation to many local events, including the Independence Day Celebration and Fireworks at Fort Totten, and sponsored a free movie night in Whitestone this summer.
“Receiving this prestigious honor at the Italian American Celebration is tremendously heartwarming, as our company was built on ingenuity and the strong traditions and values of my family,” said DeSabato.
The second honoree, Tom Ferrugia of Forest Hills, has served as the director of Governmental Affairs for The Broadway League since 2007.
Ferrugia helps to guide the organization’s policies and objectives involving local, state and federal activity.
Under the leadership of President Charlotte St. Martin, the league helped bring nearly 14 million people to Broadway last year, and remains committed to serving the varying needs of the theatrical industry in New York and across the country.
“Growing up in an Italian family, I was taught the importance of community, and I greatly appreciate the City Council’s dedication to making the city a better place for all of us,” said Ferrugia. “As a native New Yorker and life-long resident, it was my privilege to receive a proclamation for my small contributions to this great city.”
Vallone also honored community leaders Leonardo Saputo, Joseph Di Benedetto, Anthony Lemma Sr., Andrew Rocco, Giuseppe Pirreca and John Zullo with New York City Council Citations of Honor.
Brannan and Gjonaj also presented Al D’Angelo, the former president of the Morris Park Community, and the Federation of Italian American Organizations of Brooklyn with proclamations.
Reach reporter Carlotta Mohamed by e-mail at cmoha