The family’s getting bigger.
The Nelson Italian Society has always considered itself a family, but until recently they didn’t have a physical location to base their activities. Now, thanks to a $100,000 investment and an agreement with the Nelson Rod and Gun Club, they finally have a place to call their own.
“The Nelson Italian Society has been here for upwards of 44 years — we started in 1972 — and since then we haven’t really had a home,” Vince DeVito told the Star.
But what they did have was money, $100,000 to be exact, and last June while touring the facility DeVito suggested the two organizations team up to overhaul the kitchen.
“We love to cook, that’s what we as Italians do,” DeVito said.
“We saw that this was a wonderful location, and we said, ‘What if we bring a good commercial kitchen to the hall in exchange for some rental compensation?’ It will be the best hall to hold weddings and events in town, bar none.”
Officially, they’ve signed an agreement to share the space. But for the Italian Society, the partnership runs deeper than that.
“Family is the number-one thing with Italian culture,” said fellow member Mario Arcovio.
“We just expanded our family because now we’re a family with the rod and gun club. We’re very social and we’re going to bring them into our social scheme of themes, our picnics and bocce tournaments. We’re willing to work together as one big family.”
They currently have 64 members, their numbers having dwindled in recent years, and this is a way to welcome new blood. And it wasn’t hard to convince Rod and Gun club’s Wally Kampen that this was a good idea — he figures it’s a no-brainer.
“This will make us stronger. Family resonates very strongly with our membership, which is hovering at just over 600 members.”
Hall rentals manager Alan Bond can’t wait to host everyone.
“When Vince first phoned me back in May 2016, one thing that occurred to me right away is I don’t know anything about running a commercial kitchen,” he said.
That being said, the kitchen was in need of some attention.
“A lot of the equipment we have has been donations, the dishwasher was built in the 1970s, and a lot of this stuff is hugely expensive to replace. Just to have these sudden huge bills come into a volunteer organization was a tough pill to swallow.”
He can’t wait to see the new version.
“This kitchen is going to remove one of the biggest risks the hall was going to have to face in the coming years.”
This opens up another possibility for revenue: kitchen-only rentals, where residents can either teach classes or host meals. The kitchen is scheduled to be built in April and operational by early May.
“We’ve come together to create this project for the community. I think this will become a very popular venue in the future,” said DeVito.