An Interview with Columbus Centre Founder, Anthony Fusco Sr.
Photo: At the ICBC annual general meeting, the architectural model of the campus, including the proposed Columbus Centre, was presented to members by (left to right) ICBC Vice President Joseph Chiappetta, President Anthony Fusco, Executive Director Paul Ariemma, Governor Elio Rosati, Chair Joseph Carrier, and Celeste Iacobelli. (1978)
On October 10, 2020, Columbus Centre proudly celebrated its 40th Anniversary. Marianne Corigliano, Vice-Chair of the Columbus Centre Board recently interviewed Mr. Anthony Fusco Sr., one of the founders of the Columbus Centre to reflect on its history and significance to Italian Canadians and the community at large.

Q: The story goes that it all started on a cold March morning in 1977, when you and a few other people were at Villa Colombo Toronto and heard the noise of a bulldozer coming from the adjacent property. Can you recall what happened on that day and the frantic weeks that followed?

A: One morning in March 1977, I was meeting at Villa Colombo with some of the executives when we heard a loud mechanical noise coming from outside. They were indeed starting the demolition of the St. Mary’s Training School building, the lot to the north of Villa Colombo. We asked them to stop immediately and right then and there called to order the Board of the ICBC (Italian Canadian Benevolent Corporation) – a group of wonderfully committed and enthusiastic community members who saw right away that it was time for action if we wanted to buy the property from the Sisters of the Good Shepherd and build a community piazza. We knew we had the community behind us; when we built Villa Colombo it was understood that this one was only the first step. Everybody understood that we had to seize the opportunity. Within the following 48 hours we were able to secure a meeting with the Ontario premier of the time William (Bill) Davis and in a matter of a week we managed to have the province step in and support our purchase with a loan. By then the deed was in our hands. It was time to raise the funds and get the community involved to decide what we were going to build. We were short of money but we were lucky to have a group of marvelous people such as Rudy Bratty, Joe Carrier, Orey Fidani, Joe Chiappetta, Sam Ciccolini, John Cirillo, Con Di Nino, Carlo Fidani, John Di Poce, Marco Muzzo, etc. These people were inspiring and anxious to do a good job. I was the first chair of the Columbus Centre Board; it was a lot of work and we were meeting every other night. The most joyous thing was that we had the right people at the right time. It does not happen often. 

Click the link below to read the full interview on our website.

New Restrictions for On-Site Operations at Villa Charities and Columbus Centre
As per the directive from the Government of Ontario for the reintroduction of Stage 2 restrictions, on-site operations at Villa Charities and the Columbus Centre have been modified or suspended until Friday, November 6, 2020. Please check the Villa Charities website and social media (FacebookTwitterInstagram) for the most recent information about our programs and services. Thank you for your patience and understanding during this critical time as we work together to keep our community safe.

RSVP for Next Session of our Club del Libro Online Book Club
From the salons of the 18th century to the social reading of 2020, the literary circle is a time-honoured practice, which promotes culture and being together. As part of our “Learn Italian by Doing” classes, our new book club is an opportunity to explore and discuss contemporary Italian literature while learning Italian. Don’t miss our next session on Wednesday, October 28 at 7:00pm where we will be discussing “Storia del nuovo cognome/The Story of a New Name” by Italian novelist, Elena Ferrante. RSVP required.

Engage in Conversation About Art in Online “Learn Italian By Doing” Program
Join Violante Binazzi on Thursday, October 22 at 7:00pm for our new online series “Art & Aperitivo” to talk about art in a relaxed environment, while enjoying our favorite drink together virtually. In this free online interactive workshop, we will discuss the most significant art news and events from around the world, using Italian magazines and newspapers. We invite you to practice your Italian while expressing your views. RSVP required.

Apply for the Villa Charities [Re]Connected Seniors Tech Project
Villa Charities has launched a new initiative called [Re]Connected Seniors! Funded in part by the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Emergency Community Support Fund and administered by the United Way of Greater Toronto. [Re]Connected Seniors will lend qualified senior participants a FREE iPad, if you tell us how you want to use it and what skills you need to develop to be successful. Created by Villa Charities, [Re]Connected Seniors is a project that strives to include seniors and older adults who feel isolated in their community due to COVID-19 and lack access to digital tools and skills. Complete the online application for yourself or on behalf of a senior now.

Book Your Virtual One-on-One Meeting for Friday Chats with the CEO
You can have a virtual meeting with Anthony DiCaita, President and CEO of Villa Charities Inc., for a one-on-one conversation to answer any questions or to share your thoughts on our programs and services. These informal chats with Anthony will be held using GoToMeeting on the 2nd Friday of every month, from 10:00am to 3:00pm. Appointments are 20 minutes each and must be scheduled in advance. Upcoming dates for these chats are Friday, November 13 and Friday, December 11. Contact us today to schedule your virtual meeting – call 416-789-7011 ext. 240 or email csimpson@villacharities.com.
Share Your Favourite Stories of the Columbus Centre for our Virtual Memory Wall
Join the conversation! In celebration of the Columbus Centre’s 40th anniversary, all month long we invite you to send us your favourite stories, photos and memories of the Columbus Centre and we will display them on our Virtual Memory Wall. If you’d like to send a message to be included on our Virtual Memory Wall, please email info@villacharities.com or post a message on our FacebookTwitter or Instagram page, using the hashtag #CC40.
Columbus Centre 40th Anniversary Art Exhibition on Display Until November 21
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Columbus Centre, Villa Charities presents “40 under Forty,” an exhibition of 40 artists under the age of forty. From faces to figures, still life to action painting, landscape to seascape, this broad exhibition at the Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery will give the audience a look at varied themes and disciplines as diverse as the young artists themselves. View this unique exhibition now, on display until Saturday, November 21, 2020. Gallery hours are listed on our website.

Register for Online Recreational Programs at DanzArts Toronto
Join us online for Recreational dance classes at DanzArts Toronto! The recreational program is designed to develop technical skills and foster artistic expression. Students may choose to enroll in one or several classes of any style. Classes promote fitness, fun and teamwork. Our online setting allows teachers to see, correct, and communicate directly with all students. It also allows students to stay connected with teachers and classmates. Our online system is privacy-protected and allows you to access all the benefits of dance from the comfort and convenience of your own home. Register now! 

Craft Your Own Impressionist Painting in New Workshop
Our paint night workshops are an excellent option for those looking to try their hand at Impressionist painting. Join us for our next workshop on Thursday, October 22 at 6:30pm, where we will be crafting our own interpretations of Van Gogh’s “Irises.” Classes are available for $40 + HST per person. We have implemented the required COVID-19 safety measures and capacity restrictions in compliance with the most recent provincial guidelines. Materials included.

Villa Charities Scholarship Winners Interviewed on OMNI Italian News
Villa Charities Scholarship Winners Alessandra Cicci and Celina De Biasio were featured in a recent OMNI Italian News interview with CEO of Villa Charities, Anthony DiCaita. The winners will help further Villa Charities’ mission to enrich lives through experiences and services that honour Italian culture and heritage. Through this Scholarship Program, Villa Charities is proud to provide financial support to Undergraduate and Graduate level students. Watch the interview now!

New VCV Board Chair Elected
Villa Colombo Vaughan is proud to announce the election of Quinto Annibale as Chair of the Board of Directors. For the past 14 years, he has served with distinction on the board and through his tenure he has held the position of Board Secretary and for the past four years the position of Vice Chair. Mr. Annibale is an accomplished lawyer and inspirational leader who is passionate about improving healthcare for our seniors and the community at large. Please join us in congratulating Quinto Annibale.

Register for the Virtual Launch of Gianna Patriarca’s “To The Men Who Write Goodbye Letters”
On November 12 at 5:00pm, Inanna Publications presents “Inanna Fall Book Launch No. 2,” a virtual evening of readings and revelry featuring Gianna Patriarca, author of “To The Men Who Write Goodbye Letters”. Readings will be followed by a Q&A and books will be discounted for the event. Register now!