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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NIAF Gave $450,000 to Fund the Project & Provide On-going Support after the Devastating Earthquakes in 2016
(Washington, D.C. – September 15, 2020) The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is pleased to announce that Norcia’s new multi-purpose community center, a central component of the relief effort led by the Foundation in response to the devastating earthquakes that struck Central Italy in 2016, is finished and now open to the public. NIAF gave $450,000 to fund the project and provide on-going support to the residents of Norcia.
NIAF partnered with the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma (HPRT) and the Italian National Trauma Center (INTC), an Italian nonprofit, to build and oversee the construction of the center. The building serves as Norcia’s primary school for after school activities as well as a local primary care center, where INTC and HPRT will use NIAF’s funding to provide on-going training, mentoring and support to the local medical community to care for those impacted by the disaster with an emphasis on youth, families, and the elderly.
“The Norcia community has suffered unimaginable trauma on account of the two tragic earthquakes in 2016,” said NIAF Chairman Patricia de Stacy Harrison. “In response, nearly 1,000 concerned Italian Americans in the United States donated to the NIAF Earthquake Relief Fund to help make a relief project of this measure possible. On behalf of NIAF, I would like to sincerely thank those donors, NIAF’s Board of Directors for their leadership, and HPRT and INTC for their dedication to helping the residents of Norcia rebuild their community.”
The community center has been the first project launched and completed since the earthquakes struck in 2016. The project was approved, and construction began in 2018. In February 2020, the community center was finished and had its inaugural ceremony. Shortly after, Italy went on lockdown as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I was fortunate enough to visit the community center before it officially opened last January; the experience was heartfelt, and full of hope and promise,” said NIAF Vice Chair International John F. Calvelli who spearheaded this effort. “Unfortunately, the opening and enjoyment of the community center was cut short due to the pandemic. However, the center is now reopened and serving the community beyond what we initially imagined. The building is large enough to accommodate distance learning as students from the village return to in person schooling. NIAF is deeply honored to have played a small role in this act of renewal to help rebuild Norcia’s community.”
The first earthquake struck Central Italy on August 24, 2016, taking the lives of 297 Italian villagers and dislocating tens of thousands. On October 30, a second earthquake devastated Norcia’s ancient village, including the medieval monastery of the Benedictine Order.
To commemorate the fourth anniversary since the first earthquake struck Norcia, and to share details about the community center, NIAF recently hosted a webinar with Dr. Richard Mollica from HPRT, which is available for viewing here: https://bit.ly/34NObGi.
The National Italian American Foundation (NIAF) is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to preserving, promoting, and protecting the Italian American heritage and culture. To learn more about the Foundation and become a member, please visit www.niaf.org.