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Role of Citizen-Activist, Theme of Sons of Italy® Gala

Former President Bill Clinton cites "historic moment" for individuals and organizations to make a difference

Press Contact: Kylie Cafiero, (202) 547-2900

WASHINGTON, D.C. - May 26, 2006 - The role that private individuals and non-profit organizations can play to make the world a better place was stressed by former president Bill Clinton and others during a gala fund-raiser held May 25 in Washington, D.C. by the Sons of Italy Foundation® (SIF), the nation's largest Italian American philanthropic organization.

Speaking at the SIF's 18th annual National Education & Leadership Awards (NELA) Gala, Mr. Clinton said: "Never has there been a time in our history when we as private individuals have had more opportunity to do public good." This was Mr. Clinton's fourth appearance at the SIF annual gala. He came as president in 1997, 1998 and 2000.

Mr. Clinton praised the SIF and its three 2006 honorees for the considerable financial support they have given to medical research, disaster relief, cultural preservation and education. "Considering how much good they have done, I'm glad they weren't term-limited," he said. The three honorees were:

Nuschese and Rienzi emigrated from southern Italy when they were teen-agers. All three are "self-made men in the fullest sense of the word," noted the gala Emcee actor Joe Mantegna. "They inherited no family fortune or network of powerful friends that helped them to succeed," he said. "What each did possess in abundance was talent, determination and a dedication to hard work and sacrifice. And once they achieved success, they used their talent and wealth to help those less fortunate."

Also honored were 13 young Italian Americans who received 2006 NELA scholarships. Each had to demonstrate outstanding community service as well as academic ability. Among the schools they will attend next year on these scholarships are Yale, Princeton and Oxford universities and the American University of Rome.

Nearly 1,000 guests attended the 2006 NELA black tie gala, which raised nearly $1.4 million. Present that evening were: Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who introduced her husband; Sens. Christopher Dodd, and Frank Lautenberg; and House Representatives Rosa DeLauro; John Larson; Linda Sanchez; and Loretta Sanchez; Italy's Ambassador to the U.S. Giovanni Castellaneta; NIH AIDS researcher, Dr. Anthony Fauci; Robert Johnson and Debra Lee of the Black Entertainment Television network; designer Ann Hand, and others.

The SIF is the philanthropic arm of the Order Sons of Italy in America® (OSIA), the nation's oldest and largest organization for people of Italian heritage. Over the years, the SIF has contributed more than $93 million to medical research, disaster relief, and scholarships. The NELA Gala proceeds help fund these philanthropic programs.