It’s a marvelous memorial to how the Johnston Lions Club has kept the late Sal Gelsomino’s name alive.
Despite dwindling membership, the JLC continues to raise money for important nonprofits such as college scholarships for students who graduate from Johnston High School and the Children’s Cancer Fund.
So last Friday night, upwards of 200 people came to the Santa Maria Di Prata Society on Walnut Grove Avenue in Cranston to break bread and enjoy classic camaraderie during the JLC’s annual Sal Gelsomino Memorial Venison Dinner.
“This is our club’s primary fundraiser,” Joseph Swift, the JLC’s long-serving president, explained. “He started what has become a tradition in the early 2000s and we’ve continued the tradition since his passing in 2012.”
This year’s installment may have been one of the best yet.
“Ralph [DeFusco] may have outdone himself tonight,” Robert Civetti, the JLC’s veteran treasurer and District 5 Town Council representative, offered while viewing the night’s two final courses which were roasted game hen with roasted and hot peppers and venison meatloaf with oven roasted potatoes.
DeFucso is known as one of the state’s premier caterers, who was formerly housed at the Kelley-Gazzerro FVW Post 2812 and makes his home at the famed Prata Club.
Throughout Friday night’s event, Ralph’s Catering received rave reviews for venison chili, Italian style antipasto with venison, boar bruchetta and game vegetable soup.
“I’ll bet that no one – absolutely no one – will go home hungry tonight,” said David Civetti, the JLC’s secretary who like other members performed a number of different duties during the planning of Friday night’s dinner that included securing nearly three-dozen raffle prizes that also increased the night’s proceeds. “Ralph’s food is fantastic!”
Likewise, Swift – who wears the tag King Lion – added: “This annual dinner allows the club to support the RI Lions Cancer in Children Fund and Sight Foundation, the Armand Muto Scholarship Fund which provides annual scholarships to Johnston residents graduating high school and attending college and we thank each and every person that supports this event.”
To which Robert Civetti added: “We are extremely that this Venison Dinner continues to be a huge success year after year.”
He thanked the Glocester and Scituate Lions Clubs, Jerry Guarino and the employees at Eaton Aerospace, School Committee Chairman Robert LaFazia and Sen. Frank Lombardo, as well as many others that show up annually to enjoy some terrific food and to catch up with friends.
Swift said this year’s committee included the brothers Civetti, Paul Buono, Richard Boscia, Anthony Boscia and Louis Perrotta.