DePalma Helps St. George Men’s Group Prepare CDR Support, Italian Style
By Pam Johnson / Zip06.com • 08/25/2021 8:30 AM EST
As a member of the St. George Men’s Group (SGMG), Steve DePalma has happily and brilliantly managed the fried pizza stand at the Italian SGMG Festival since its inception. After a one-year hiatus due to COVID, the eighth Italian SGCMG Festival is back to cause a stir this Friday August 27 and Saturday August 28 behind St. George’s Church in downtown Guilford at 33 Whitfield Street. All proceeds from the festival will go to the non-profit Branford Community Dining Hall (CDR), which supports needy coastal residents from East Haven to Old Saybrook.
“This is our biggest fundraiser of the year,” says Steve of the Italian Festival, which features fantastic food, live music and lots of Italian-style family fun.
“Every penny collected, once we pay our expenses, will go to CDR,” says Steve.
Admission to the festival, $ 5 (15 and under, free entry), plus any food tickets purchased to redeem for the huge variety of Italian food, fair trade food and stall delicacies, will add up to help SGMG raise funds for CDR.
Weather permitting, the festival will kick off on August 27 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. with a second day of fun scheduled for August 28 from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m.
First of all, it’s about eating good Italian food, or “Mangia, Mangia”, as SGMG members like to say. In addition to the fried dough pizza, the festival will serve Italian specialties including sausages and peppers, meatball subs, eggplant parmigiana subs, pasta and meatballs, meatballs on a stick, lasagna, fagioli pasta, raw sea bass, Caesar salad, cannolis and gelato as well as staples like steak and Philly cheese, burgers, hot dogs, fries and, for adults, beer and wine.
Family entertainment includes a kids’ area, adult bocce, and options to participate in grape tasting, a spaghetti contest (August 27) or a meatball competition (August 28). Live music will fill the air on both nights.
“They get bigger every year,” Steve says of the group’s Italian festivals, which have become a favorite with coastline fans. “In 2019, we had 1,800 people come to the festival between Friday and Saturday evening. “
The Italian festival is fully managed, organized and animated by fully volunteer SGMG members, with additional help much appreciated by their families, parishioners and friends.
“Guys are excited about this. We are all looking forward to this event as it gives us the opportunity to all come together as a group, ”said Steve. “All of the members and their families are having a great time and we are all coming together for a good cause. “
Steve also thanks his wife, Elena, for helping out with the fried pizza stand every year.
“She is instrumental in working in the pizza booth with me. She’s a front-line employee, taking customer orders, picking up tickets and providing superior customer service, ”says Steve. “She is looking forward to this event and also likes to help. “
It’s also a busy few days.
“We’ll be selling between 600 and 800 pizzas for the weekend, so it’s very popular,” says Steve. “When you look at homemade meatballs, homemade eggplants, [and] homemade lasagna, I would say the pizza is doing very well considering the amount of other great food we have.
Steve has lived in Guilford since 1973 and grew up as a parishioner of St. George. He has been working with SGMG for 8½ years and has been honored to have the chance to get involved at the invitation of longtime friend and SGMG President Jim Mancini.
“I’m not a young man, I’ve been here for a while and I can honestly say this is the friendliest group of men I have known,” says Steve. “Everyone is extremely cooperative and ready to help. It’s just a pleasure to be involved in the group. I attend almost all the events they organize; I contribute in one way or another. We all bring different skills, which is good.
Last week Steve, Jim and several other SGMG members officially kicked off the culinary creativity of the festival in the church hall, preparing the meatballs at the secret recipe of “Mama Mancini”.
“There were probably 15 of us rolling and cooking the meatballs. We cooked almost 3,000 meatballs, which we freeze to be ready to use, ”says Steve, adding, for the record,“ and Mama DePalma can make a really good meatball too!
The joke inside is more a sign of camaraderie among these exceptional volunteers than even a hint of friendly competition between the food stalls, as everything is done to help a great cause.
“We’re all looking forward to doing the event this year, and not just because we love to do it, but because we missed a year, so we all can’t wait to get out there and have a strong, successful and profitable event. for the CDR, ”says Steve.
CDR helps residents of East Haven, Branford, North Branford, Guilford, Madison, Clinton, Westbrook and Old Saybrook. Based in Branford at the Patricia C. Andriole Volunteer Service Center at 30 Harrison Avenue, CDR programs feed the hungry, meet other basic human needs by connecting clients with agencies and resource providers, and ‘strive to raise awareness of hunger and isolation in our society. . CDR does not receive state or federal funds and is dependent on donations, grants and contributions.
The nonprofit is very grateful to SGCMG for its support, said CDR Executive Director Judy Barron.
“I think all nonprofits are all about making a difference and improving the world, but to get there we all need funding to continue our missions,” says Barron. “The SGCMG and the Italian Fest give CDR the opportunity not only to increase this funding, but also to showcase what we are doing to our riparian community in a joint effort, working together. We couldn’t be more grateful to them all.
As with any cause supported by the efforts of SGMG members, the CDR was selected to be assisted by a membership vote. SGMG has helped many important causes over the years, injecting hundreds of thousands of dollars into local charitable efforts.
“We have supported many community groups and nonprofits on the shore,” says Steve. “Whatever we do is always to support a cause. Since our inception about 10 years ago, with all the events we’ve organized, we’ve raised just under $ 300,000 to donate to charity.
In addition to the sponsorship of SGMG, the Italian Festival 2021 is supported by the Gold Sponsors Horton Group and the Guilford Foundation as well as a partnership with the Guilford Savings Bank.
Everyone involved in organizing the festival is looking forward to a big event supported by large crowds, Steve says.
After a year of COVID closures limiting festivals like this, “it looks like people are out and want to do things,” Steve says. “As long as the weather is cooperating, we actually anticipate a larger crowd than in 2019.”
For weather updates and more news from the Italian St. George Men’s Group Festival, visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/stgeorgemensgroup. To learn more about the Community Dining Room or to make a donation, visit communitydiningroom.org.