Queensboro UNICO, the Queens chapter of the largest Italian-American service organization in the United States, had a banner year and a holiday season to remember.
Gaspare J. Mistretta was elected president of Queensboro UNICO in August 2019, after being a member for 17 years and holding “basically every position” at the private nonprofit organization.
“From secretary to sergeant of arms, I worked my way up,” Mistretta said.
In the previous months, Mistretta and members of the Queensboro UNICO raised funds for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Sacred Heart in Glendale, veterans, first responders, food pantries, scholarships, several educational program as well as community service efforts in Glendale, Ridgewood and Middle Village.
For the organization’s annual Cigar Night in September, the perfect weather allowed Mistretta and his fellow UNICO members to come together at an outdoor venue to enjoy great company, great food and cigars — all for a great cause. Proceed of the event were donated to the Gary Sinise Foundation’s veterans assistance efforts.
The organization donated $1,000 to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation in support of the October 2019 walk-a-thon and also showed support for Glendale’s Kiwanis Italian Heritage Night Fundraiser on Oct. 11 with a $300 donation.
That same month, in the spirit of celebrating all the great things Italian Americans have done and continue to do for the U.S., Queensboro UNICO members and friends proudly marched down Fifth Avenue during the annual Columbus Day Parade.
On Nov. 12, the organization celebrated its fourth annual Rolex Raffle at Bridie’s in Rego Park, where Jennifer Rizzo was the lucky winner of the Rolex.
They also donated clothing to Ridgewood’s St. Matthias Church pantry.
At UNICO’s Dec. 7 Christmas fundraiser, held at Leonard’s, the group not only had an enjoyable time with Santa Claus, who gave toys to the children in attendance, but also collected unwrapped toys for the U.S. Marine Corp’s Toys for Tots campaign. They assigned locations throughout the community to add to the toys they donated, with some of those sponsored locations being Ford Lincoln of Queens, Retro Fitness Forest Hills, Partanna Club of Ridgewood, Vigorous Fitness Middle Village and City View Construction Services.
The Christmas party committee included Minstretta, Sal Mendolia, Mike Mucaria, Phil Joseph, Frank Palmeri.
Queensboro UNICO (which stands for “unique” or “one of a kind” in Italian, according to their website) also partnered with Hofstra University to create a Professorship in Italian American studies.
Now, Mistretta is looking forward to announcing the dates for their staple events, which includes the Christmas fundraiser, Rolex Raffle, their annual picnic and Cigar Night, as well as serving the community with more charitable work.
He encourages those who are interested in joining Queensboro UNICO in their efforts to positively impact the community with charitable work to call him at 917-880-6532 or visit their website at www.queensborounico.org.