By Michael P. Walsh
Special to the Voice
The West Haven Columbus Day Committee will honor its “prima italiana” at the city’s 19th annual Columbus Day Celebration.
Grace Iannucci Hendricks, the granddaughter of immigrant grandparents from the Campania capital of Naples, Italy, will receive the committee’s Italian-American of the Year award Friday at City Hall.
Accompanied by Italian music, members of the West Haven Italian-American Civic Association will escort Iannucci Hendricks to the steps of City Hall at 11:30 a.m. for her special recognition.
The award is given annually to an Italian resident, or couple, who epitomizes service in the city’s robust Italian-American community.
“I am honored and proud to be named West Haven’s Italian-American of the Year,” said Iannucci Hendricks, a long-standing member of the West Haven Italian-American Ladies Auxiliary. “It gives me great pleasure to accept this award, as I am proud of my heritage.”
Iannucci Hendricks will fete the Italian navigator and observe her ancestry with scores of her closest friends and relatives, along with a passel of dignitaries and descendants of folks from the old country clad in red, white and green.
Mayor Edward M. O’Brien will present Iannucci Hendricks, a parishioner of St. Lawrence Church and former president of its Mother’s Club and St. Theresa Ladies Guild, with a citation recognizing her “selfless devotion to West Haven and its deep-rooted Italian-American community — noble qualities that epitomize the city’s top ‘paisana’ of the year.”
She will receive an Italian flag from Paul M. Frosolone, president of the Italian-American Civic Association, and Josephine Matera, former president of the Italian-American Ladies Auxiliary, as well as a jacket embroidered with her new title, Italian-American of the Year, from O’Brien.
The event will include remarks from city Corporation Counsel Vincent N. Amendola Jr., the master of ceremonies, and Italian musical selections.
The Rev. Eric Zuniga, parochial vicar of St. John XXIII Parish, which serves St. Lawrence, St. Louis and St. Paul churches, will offer an Italian blessing. Members of West Haven High School’s Bel Canto Choir will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner,” followed by a rendition of the Italian national anthem by Liz Levy and a greeting from O’Brien.
A lunch will follow in the basement conference room of City Hall, 355 Main St.
Iannucci Hendricks’ propensity for community service includes sitting on the board of directors of the West Haven Community House and the board’s Fundraising and Head Start committees. She is also a member of the agency’s Head Start Policy Council and Personnel and Fund Development committees.
Her dedication to the Community House was rewarded in 2011 with the Pauline Lang Exceptional Board Member award.
Iannucci Hendricks was a 10-year member and secretary of the Board of Police Commissioners and served on the pension board.
Her name will join the 18 previous Columbus Day recipients on a plaque in City Hall.