For the SIAB Fratelli, “It’s All Good!”
Like all well-worn catch phrases, hearing “va tutto bene” from one of the members of the Society of Italian American Businessmen (SIAB) elicits both the comfort of familiarity and the eye rolls of overuse. Broadly attributed to SIAB President Mark Dardozzi as its main purveyor, it’s become a defacto motto for the group of 50-plus members, a testament to their success as they conquer the challenges of owning or running businesses, raising young families or caring for aging parents, and supporting the non-profits of Harford County.
SIAB was founded by Mark Dardozzi and Elio Scaccio in May 2013. Already members in the Associated Italian American Charities of Maryland, Inc., but active working and living in Harford County, Dardozzi and Scaccio wanted to create a group that focused on issues that were impacting their neighbors and co-workers. Modeling their new organization after the charitable and educational components of the AIAC, they established SIAB over coffee and a handshake.
“We liked the multi-faceted mission of financial support for the community as well as raising cultural awareness and education,” says Dardozzi, current president. “We’re proud of our Italian heritage. For some, it’s always been an integral part of their identity and family traditions. For others, they are rediscovering some forgotten customs and re-learning the impact of Italian-Americans on art, history and culture. And, of course, there’s always the food,” he chuckles.
Since its first gala in April 2014, SIAB has awarded over $135,000 in grants, sponsorships and scholarships to organizations and students with money raised through member dues and the annual Spring Gala, Summer Golf Tournament and Fall Linguine & Crab Feast events.
The money raised is donated by committee decision to various charitable organizations in Harford County throughout the year with half of their annual giving presented at the Spring Gala. As the group and their fundraising efforts have grown, they’ve been able to increase their donation to the selected recipient each year. From a $10,000 donation to St. Margaret’s Church at their first gala in 2014, to $25,000 presented to SARC in 2017, their impact in undeniable. In fact, between member-sponsored Walk-A-Mile teams in 2016 and 2017 and the 2017 gala donation, the SIAB organization and its members have provided SARC with $45,000 in support in just one year. Additionally, SIAB has awarded 11 educational grants totaling $30,000 to eligible student applicants through their annual scholarship program. Administered impartially by the Harford Community College Foundation, the SIAB scholarship program, like their annual gala giving, continues to grow in gift amount and number of grants awarded.
SIAB members also pursue opportunities to promote a positive community image and uphold Italian family traditions. Members have visited Italian landmarks and museums, participated in events promoting Italian heritage, and worked as teams in support of Habitat for Humanity, Harford Family House and SARC Walk-a-Mile.
Always the consummate promoters – or performers for some members – the SIAB fratelli spread their charm and raise awareness for the group by participating in local parades and playing up some of the more well-known Italian “characteristics.” In gondolier shirts and straw hats or in topcoats with fedoras and cigars, the SIAB members and their award-winning floats have entered the Havre de Grace Mardi Gras and Christmas Parades, the Bel Air Independence Day and Christmas Parades and the Baltimore Columbus Day Parade, taking first place prizes in Bel Air and Baltimore. “It’s another way for us to get involved with the community, support other organizations, raise awareness to Italian-American culture and our group, and just have some fun together,” says Eric Rebbert, Treasurer.
Founding member Elio Scaccio, a classically trained performer at the renowned Peabody Conservatory, often performs on their floats singing familiar Italian folk songs and radio hits, bringing back songs you forgot you knew to the collective consciousness. When Scaccio, who recently released his second CD titled “Somewhere,” grabs the microphone, you can’t help but sing along to “Funiculì, Funiculà,” belt out the famous chorus of “That’s Amore” or pretend to be Pavorotti singling “’Ole Sole Mio.”
Camaraderie, charity, brotherhood. These are the things that unite the members of the SIAB and these are the things that have made their philanthropy efforts successful.
They are a young organization with big plans to be around a long time. If a measurement of success is their legacy, then the words of the community say it best:
“Harford Family House is truly grateful for the support provided by SIAB. Their members have volunteered to prepare an apartment for a new family “move-in,” hosted a golf tournament in our honor, supported various events, and a couple of the men actually share their leadership and expertise with us as members of our Board of Directors. SIAB’s dedication to improving our community is evident in all that they do. Thanks to their support this past year, we were able to provide shelter, support and resources to a homeless mother and her child for almost four months!
These guys are a true blessing to Harford County!” – Robin Tomechko, CEO, Harford Family House. I95
• 1st Place Float Winner
Baltimore’s Columbus Day Parade & Commemoration, October 2016
• 1st Place Float Winner
Bel Air Independence Day Parade, July 2015
• Outstanding Volunteer Fundraisers
AFP MD, Maryland Chapter, April 2016
• 2014: $10,000 donated to St Margaret’s Church
• 2015: $15,000 donated to The Arc NCR
• 2016: $20,000 donated to Boys and Girls Clubs Harford County
• 2017: $25,000 donated to SARC