Thursday, May 28, 2009

Guest Blogger: For a Good Cause

Blogger's Note: Today's "Guest Thursday" report is written by the Helvetia Homemaker, a close friend of my sister. She highlights an event this Sunday which by attending you can pay back the kindness that so many strangers extended to us almost 4 years ago.
At Southport Hall on Sunday from 4-8pm, a fundraiser will be held at Southport Hall to benefit the victims of the earthquake that hit L'Aquila, Italy on April 6th.

The strongest part of the earthquake actually occurred in the village of Paganica. My grandmother Luigia, who passed away last December at the age of 99, and her husband Ugo built the house that you see above in the town of Paganica (population of about 5000) which is on the outskirts of the capital of L'Aquila (population 10,000) in the region of Abruzzo. They had 5 children in the house, the youngest of whom is Alessandro, a/k/a Sandro of Sandro's Trattoria, a/k/a my Dad. My grandparents came to New Orleans in the 1950s in search of a better life, and their house was then rented out to either family members or others in the town. There are seven other cousins and their families who stayed in Paganica.

No one has been allowed back in town because of the ongoing tremors - they had three yesterday. Apparently the initial earthquake's fault didn't hit deep enough so that there is more gas that needs to escape. (I am sure there is a more scientific way to say that.) The government will not allow anyone back to their homes or to assess any damage until the town is tremor-free for one month.

My Dad and I went on WWOZ yesterday to talk about the fundraiser with Bradley Blanchard. Something interesting that came up was likening this experience to that of Katrina, especially in regard to government ineptitude. After Katrina there were various church groups and other organizations that came by the hundreds to help those in need. This event is similar in respect to communities coming together quickly to help those now - not later. There are still representatives from New Orleans that work hard not to let anyone in Washington forget what happened in N.O., which is exactly what we are trying to do for Paganica. There has been little international coverage since a week after the earthquake, so we would like everyone to know that these people are still in need. You can help not only by purchasing a ticket to the event but also by donating, which can be done long after the fundraiser.

We still have family in this region whose homes, businesses, and possessions have been destroyed. The earthquake caused about $16 billion in damages in addition to destroying some of Italy's oldest structures. There has been some funding going to L'Aquila, but almost none going to the village of Paganica. The money raised from the Paganica Earthquake Relief Fund will go directly to the Pieri and Iovenitti families (and, depending on how much we raise, to many more) to help them survive while they rebuild.

At Southport Hall this Sunday, May 31st the party is on! The venue, food, and drink for the fundraiser have been graciously donated by various merchants, many who have strong Italian roots. Because my Dad's cooking is reminiscent of what he grew up with - it only seemed right for him to prepare the food. Trust me, you will not be dissappointed. The menu is listed below. Please see the website for information on the fundraiser, ways to donate to the cause, and how to buy tickets to the event.

Antipasto Table
Caponata Bruschetta
Mozzarella, Mushroom and Spinach Bruschetta
Grilled Italian Sausage
Assorted Cheeses, Olives, Meats and Fruit

Insalata Table
Caesar Salad with Foccacia Croutons
Green Salad with Herbed Vinaigrette

Primo Piatto Table
Sautéed Shrimp Primavera with Garlic Butter Risotto
Vera’s Meatballs with Penne Pasta and Salsa Rosa
Pork and Beef Cacciatore with Assorted Mushrooms and Ziti Pasta

Dolci Table
Irish Tiramisu
Assorted Biscotti
Brocato’s Canoli
Italian Tres Latte

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