Tony Ficarri holding the Dominic T. Roppa Memorial Award with Sen. Devlin Robinson.
By Alice Crow
Kennedy resident Tony Ficarri was recently awarded the Dominic T. Roppa Memorial Award by the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame.
Originally born in Norwood, Stowe Township, Ficarri says he can always remember being involved in the Italian community.
“Growing up, my father had a store in Norwood,” he said. “I was always involved with the Italian community with my dad’s store. We were always doing community service growing up.”
After graduating from Stowe High School in 1959, Ficarri joined the Army and headed to Fort Knox, Kentucky. Now the National Commander of the Italian American War Veterans of the United States, Ficarri is involved with multiple other Italian-American organizations.
Ficarri is the co-founder of the Coalition of Italian American Organization, trustee of the Calabria Club, a former Board of Direciaoctor for the Italian Heritage Society, member of the ISDA, member of the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations, a Fourth Degree member of the Knights of Columbus and a member of the Columbus Day Parade Committee.
“I do things not looking for an award and when I got it, I thought, ‘Wow! This is part of the struggles of not just me, but my grandfather, my father and my great grandparents went through.’”
Recently, Ficarri and other members of COPOMIAO met with high-ranking members of the Italian government to further foster a partnership between the organization and the country.
“We are trying to implement Italian values throughout the United States,” Ficarri said.
COPOMIAO is currently trying to work with the Italian government to have them match scholarships awarded by the organization. Additionally, the partnership will include a program where scholarship awardees will be sent on a trip to Italy to learn more about the culture and history of the country.
“We’re in the process of doing that now. We are on the ground floor and we just implemented it in New Jersey,” he said.
Ultimately, Ficarri hopes through his works with various Italian organizations that he can continue to destigmatize Italian culture and he feels honored to be recognized for his efforts.
“Some people have the mindset of if you are Italian you are a part of the mafia. It’s not true. You get a bad rap being Italian,” he said. “We’re trying to give the Italians a good name instead of a bad name.”