Tag Archives: Order Sons of Italy in America

Star of Queens: Maria DeInnocentiis, Utopia State Civic Association, Order Sons of Italy in America, Community Board 8

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Maria DeInnocentiis

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Maria DeInnocentiis has dedicated her life to the service of others. She is the chair of the Utopia State Civic Association, the treasurer of the Order Sons of Italy in America and the chair and treasurer of Community Board 8, among other posts.

“I work hard to support my community,” she said. “I try to keep up the quality of life for my neighbors, and make sure they have a place to file complaints when they need to.”

BACKGROUND: DeInnocentiis was born in Brooklyn and moved to Queens when she was a teenager. She attended St. John’s University, where she acquired her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education and counseling.

DeInnocentiis’s volunteering efforts began at her church. When she had children later on, she knew she wanted them to have a good life. She thought that getting involved in the community would help her better understand its problems and issues.

“I see a need to give back, and people always ask me to help out,” she said. “I guess I just don’t know how to say no. It’s what I really enjoy doing, and I learned in my 30s that this is what I want to do with my life.”

FAVORITE MEMORY: “I remember when I was at a rally with my one-year-old daughter,” she said. “That’s when Mayor Ed Koch walked up to me and told me that it was people like me that made a difference. He was a great man, and those words still stick with me.”

BIGGEST CHALLENEGE: DeInnocentiis says that her biggest today is getting people away from mass media to focus on becoming involved.

“Finding young people willing to persevere is harder than it was 30 years ago,” she said. “Twitter and Facebook are great for getting a message out, but they can’t solve problems. People have to get out and make sure your voice is heard.”

INSPIRATION: “I have many people I look to for inspiration,” DeInnocentiis said. “But my true lifelong inspiration is Tami Hirsch, my best friend. She’s the president of the Utopia State Civic Association and she’s been my best friend and supporter for many years.”




Order Sons of Italy expanding into Fresh Meadows

| mchan@queenscourier.com

The Order Sons of Italy in America (OSIA) is coming to Fresh Meadows.

OSIA is the largest organization for men and women of Italian heritage in the country, representing more than 26 million people. Its mission includes the encouragement and study of Italian-American traditions and culture and promoting closer cultural relations between the United States and Italy, officials said.

“We feel that we could be a good presence in the area, and we want to reach out to the community.” said member Eleanor Jobbagy.

OSIA officials said they are in the process of starting up another lodge — this time in northeast Queens. Last year, the group launched a lodge in Howard Beach, and the organization had a presence once in the Flushing area, but Jobbagy said a lot of the members were elderly and had passed on. Since then, the lodge merged with the one in Maspeth, she said.

“We know there’s a large Italian population in the area. We want to promote a positive image of ourselves, and we feel we want to preserve our heritage and culture. In every culture, when it comes to new generations, you lose some of that culture. We want to try and preserve it.” Jobbagy said.

The Fresh Meadows lodge’s first introductory meeting will be held on April 11 at Holy Family Church, located at Utopia Parkway and 75th Avenue. It will begin at 7:30 p.m.

Jobbagy said residents from any neighborhood are welcomed to attend, as well as those who are not of Italian descent.

“As long as you believe in liberty, equality and fraternity — our principles — we want you to join,” she said.

Interested parties can call Stella Grillo at 347-204-8006.