Order of Sons of Italy in America donates $1,000 to School of Medicine’s Savitt Medical Library

Reno and Sparks lodges donate annually to library for birth defect research materials

RENO, Nev. — Two local lodges from the Order of Sons of Italy in America continued their long–standing tradition of making a significant contribution to the University of Nevada School of Medicine's Savitt Medical Library. The Giuseppe Verdi Lodge in Sparks and the Christopher Columbus Lodge in Reno each made a $500 donation to the library on May 14 to support the purchase of birth defect research materials.

Barbara Wisniewski and Suraj Zutshi from the Reno chapter and Shirley Menicucci from the Sparks chapter made this year's check presentation to Terry Henner, director of the Savitt Medical Library.

The local Sons of Italy chapters have been contributing to the Savitt Medical Library since 1979. At that time, the local chapters joined other Sons of Italy orders in contributing to the organization's Birth Defects Library Program which was originally started to further research of Cooley's Anemia, a fatal blood disorder that affects peoples of Mediterranean descent. The purpose of the Birth Defects Library Program is to provide funding to major medical schools for research materials on pediatric genetic birth defects and other related topics. The research materials are essential for faculty and students to learn about, research and treat genetic birth defects.

In order to raise funds for the Birth Defects Library Program, each lodge holds an annual dinner banquet. Proceeds raised from each event go toward the donation to the Savitt Medical Library in addition to funding local high school scholarships.

"This donation is one of our main reasons for fundraising," Zutshi said. "We enjoy the camaraderie and have a lot of fun putting on the dinner."

The Reno and Sparks Sons of Italy lodges are governed by the Grand Lodge of California. Since 1974, all lodges governed by the California Grand Lodge have distributed more than $400,000 to nine major medical schools in support of their Birth Defects Library Program. To date, the Christopher Columbus Lodge and Giuseppe Verdi Lodge have contributed more than $33,000 to the Savitt Medical Library.

With two lodges in the Reno / Sparks community, the Sons of Italy originally started in 1905 in New York as a social group for male Italian immigrants to assimilate culturally and learn the English language. There are now more than 600,000 male and female members and more than 750 chapters throughout all 50 states. The national organization is dedicated to many social causes including the research of genetic diseases and birth defects. For more information, visit the Order of Sons of Italy of America website.


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The University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, Nevada's first public medical school, is a community-based, research-intensive medical school with a statewide vision for a healthy Nevada. Established in 1969, UNR Med is improving the health and well-being of all Nevadans and their communities through excellence in student education, postgraduate training and clinical care, research with local, national and global impact and a culture of diversity and inclusion.