Johnston Lions Club takes pride in annual tradition

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They remembered and reminisced about late members who at one-time or another were integral parts of the Johnston Lions Club that was incorporated in November of 1951.

They also talked about how and not that long ago, the JLC, which is steeped with its special story of successes that include raising money for the Sight Foundation to helping children who are battling cancer to raising money for college bound Johnston High School seniors, had upwards of 100 members.

Now, despite a membership that has dwindled down to only 20, the JLC is about to again put its best foot forward and carry on what King Lion Joseph Swift said “is and has been terrific tradition dating back to 2002.”

That is the Sal Gelsomino Memorial Venison Game Dinner that will be held on Friday evening, February 1 inside the Santa Maria Di Prata Society at 29 Walnut Grove Avenue in Cranston starting at 6:30 p.m.

It was back in 2002, five veteran Lions noted at a special meeting last week, when the late Gelsomino -- who at one-time maintained the Tasca family property as well as serving as a JLC member, president as well as the RI Lions Sight Foundation – founded the unique fundraising event that continues to rank among the more popular game dinners in the state ever since.

“We have the same chef,” said Robert Civetti, who Monday evening was sworn in for a second term on the Johnston Town Council and is serving as the memorial event’s chairman. “But it’s a new location and the fun and food will be as good as ever!”

That’s because Ralph’s Catering, which was formerly located inside the Kelley-Gazzerro VFW Post 2812 on Plainfield Pike but has since moved to the Santa Maria Di Prate Society as well as small storefront on Atwood Avenue, will again prepare and serve the 2019 Gelsomino Memorial Venison Game Dinner.

“Tickets $35 per person,” said Civetti while announcing that seating will be limited “so we encourage those people who have been coming to our dinner for years to purchase their tickets as soon as possible.”

Civetti also noted “we hope that you can join us on February 1 to enjoy some great food and catch up with some of our old friends and acquaintances. If you’re unable to make it on the first and would like to make a donation please make your check payable to the Johnston Lions Club because one hundred percent of the proceeds to into out Charity Fund.”

Those who’d like to reserve tickets may do so by calling Civetti at 265-1041 or Swift at 231-9120. Checks may be made payable to the Johnston Lions Club and sent to P.O. Box 19131, Johnston, RI 02919.

As for the menu, Civetti said “we’ll have everything from antipasto to pheasant soup to pasta with venison meatballs to boar and peas to venison cacciatore and much, much more. There’s something for everyone to enjoy at this fundraising dinner and we’ll also have some great raffle prizes, as well.”

There are three other JLC members – David Civetti, Tailtwister, Vice President Joseph Sabetta and Director Chris Giardina – who are working with Swift and Civetti on the Sal Gelsomino Memorial Venison Game Dinner while continuing to maintain the motto “We Serve” that’s far greater than the club’s original goal of aiding the blind to now helping a myriad of group and individuals in-and-around the always-active Johnston community.

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