Buona Fortuna Lodge mourns the loss of one of the members and founders of the lodge, Rita Somma. The lodge’s history details the growth of our organization due to Rita’s enthusiasm and energy. She was a loving mother and grandmother who loved to show you photos of her family. The minute after you met Rita, you were hooked by her warm and fun-loving personality.
In the 1970s Rita lived in the Fort Walton area and worked at a local supermarket where she met the store’s security guard, Bill Zuppa. They became members of a Fort Walton area Sons of Italy In America lodge. A few years later Rita moved to Pensacola where she and her husband opened a pizza parlor. Shortly after, Rita and Bill along with Gene Valentino decided to organize a lodge in Pensacola. Buona Fortuna was established in 2006.
As a member, Rita served as the lodge’s first Treasurer, as Trustee several times, as a delegate to the Grand Lodge Convention, and was an active member of many of the lodge’s committees. She was the social chair for many years and organized meetings and social activities. As the sponsorship chairperson, she was able to inspire many community businesses to support the lodge’s events, such as the Festa Italiana, Bocce, and Golf Tournaments. Rita was an active participant at Buona Fortuna’s events and served as a raffle chairperson until a few years ago. When Buona Fortuna joined a Grand Lodge cruise in Italy, Rita was on board. From the photos we have of the event, it looked like Rita had a wonderful time, as she always did.
2020 Buona Fortuna Charitable Contributions
Community Caring at Christmas $1,000
Back Packs $800
Feeding the Gulf Coast $1,000
Manna Food Bank $1,000
West Florida Soccer $500
Water Front Mission $750
Garibaldi Museum $500
Friends of the Disabled $500
Buona Fortuna 2020 Scholarship Award Presentation
Haley D. Downs is the daughter of Tracy and Michele Downs of Pensacola. She graduated from Washington High School. During High School, she was the President of the National Honor Society, Secretary of the Jayette’s Service Organization, and Editor in Chief of the school yearbook. She has volunteered with Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Ronald McDonald House, and other school organizations. Hobbies include cooking, going to the beach, reading, and photography. She will be attending the University of Central Florida in the Fall majoring in Journalism. Her maternal great grandparents were born in Collepardo (Rome) Italy.
Pictured are Haley and her mother and President Russo and Vice-President Del Signore presenting the award to Haley in Seville Square.
Congratulations to the 2020-2022 Council Members
President – Patricia Russo
Vice President – Joseph DelSignore
Orator – Paul Renninger
Financial Secretary – Shayla Kaestle
Treasurer – Kathy Ahlen
Mistress of Ceremonies – Libera Reid
Master of Ceremonies – Andy Fricano
Guard – Shirley Cotita
Members of Buona Fortuna who served in the military during the Vietnam era were honored at a special ceremony during our September membership meeting. The members are Pete Resedean, Al Hargis, Tom Cacciatore, Al Lombardi, Thomas Bollanbacher, Giovanni Mirra, Joe Del Signore, Vera Fricano, and Andy Fricano.
Buona Fortuna Delegates attend the 2019 Grand Lodge Biennial Convention in Deerfield Beach, FL. June 2019.
OSDIA Buona Fortuna Lodge #2835 2018 Scholarship Award Winners:
La Famiglia Scholarship winner: Roman Mirra/Gulf Breeze High School
Buona Fortuna Scholarship winner: Liam Weiner/Gulf Breeze High School
Russo Scholarship winner: Nicholas Guadagnoli/Pensacola High School
Buona Fortuna celebrated spring and Cinco de Mayo with a dinner dance organized by Nancy Colalillo on May 4, 2019. Music by Joe Occhipinti and his band.
The Lodge celebrated Christmas with members on December 1, 2018. Dinner and Dancing organized by Chair Nancy Colalillo.
On Thursday, November 13, 2018, Buona Fortuna Lodge celebrated Thanksgiving with the membership and welcomed new members who joined at Festal Italiana.
$1000 Ben Holsworth
IPad Carolyn Mc Henry
$250 Bob Grappone
Pictured below is Ben accepting his award with President Brooke Hardy and Raffle Chair Patti Russo.
Buona Fortuna Lodge #2835 announces their 2018 Charity Donations:
Escarosa Coalition for the Homeless – $500
Oakcrest Elementary School – $500
Manna Food Pantry – $750
The Birthday Party – $500
Beyond Backpacks, Inc.- $1000
West Florida Soccer Club – $1000
Families First Network of Lakeview – $1000
Feeding the Gulf Coast – $750
Communities Caring at Christmas – $2000
Friends of the Disabled – $500
Ronald McDonald – $250
St. Jude’s – $250
Check Presentations By Members:
Joan Cembrola – The Birthday Party
Joyce Bollenbacher – Feeding The Gulf Coast
Andy Fricano – West Florida Soccer Club Director Louie Shahin
Tod Wilson – Communities Caring at Christmas
Joe Del Signore – Families First Network of Lakeview
Barbara Ferg – Oakcrest Elementary School
Phyllis Alles – Ronald McDonald
On Saturday, February 17, 2018 Buona Fortuna installed at a special ceremony held at Franco’s Italian Restaurant the new council for the 2018-2020 term The outgoing officers and the incoming officers were celebrated at this solemn, but festive occasion. The new Council:
President Brooke Hardy
Immediate Past President Joyce Russo Bollenbacher
Vice President Patricia Russo
Orator Eric Frulla
Recording Secretary Barbara Ferg
Corresponding Secretary Jovina Coughlin
Financial Secretary Thomas Bollenbacher
Treasurer Lucy Smith
Joseph Del Signore
Guard Shirley Cotita
Master of Ceremonies Andy Fricano
Acting Mistress of Ceremonies Dawn Wilson
This video on Italian Americans during WW II was created by Italian exchange student, Costanza Fisogni, who is living with Buona Fortuna member, Nina Patton, who is President Joyce Bollenbacher’s daughter. We are so proud of her. See won 1st place at her High School for her History Fair Project.
You can view the video with the link below.
New Members Induction Ceremony-December 14, 2017
2017 Buona Fortuna Charitable Donations
August 16, 2017
The Dr. Vincenzo Sellaro (the founder of the Order Sons of Italy in America®) biennial award honors the men and women who have dedicated themselves to OSIA without ever seeking recognition or running for a national officer position in OSIA. The award was created to recognize any worthy member of the Order and the nomination process is open to all. The first award was given in 1989 and there have been 14 more members awarded this honor since then. The OSIA Buona Fortuna Lodge #2835 of Pensacola. Fl is so proud of the 2017 recipient, member Bill Zuppa. In 1970, Bill became a member of OSIA and then proceeded to found three lodges in the Florida Panhandle. He was the 1st Vice-President of the Grand Lodge of Florida and a delegate from Florida to the National Convention. He attends meetings at all three lodges, helps with the annual Buona Fortuna Festa and with many of the lodge’s other functions. The award was presented to Bill on August 16, 2017 at a special luncheon during the OSIA National Convention in Sarasota, Fl.
At our July membership meeting, Buona Fortuna hosted the students from the Teen Art Camp for a spaghetti and meatball dinner. Meatballs were made by some of the members and dinner preparation was done by Michele Ledoux. The students learned about our Italian culture and food. They also learned to dance the Tarantella. It was a wonderful, fun filled evening.
Buona Fortuna Lodge #2835 awarded college scholarships to three high school seniors: Zachary Thomas Johnson and Angel Patane from Escambia High School and Dylan Lee Wayland from Jay High School.
Pictured is Zachary and Angel. Dylan was not able to attend the dinner but his award was presented at the high school ceremony by member, Eric Frulla.
Buona Fortuna’s donation to the Bennett Russell Elementary School Pantry has made it possible for the program to provide students with backbacks for the coming school vacation.
Buona Fortuna Sponsors A Local Soccer Team
Buona Fortuna has chosen the West Florida Soccer Club as a local community team to support. The West Florida Soccer Club is a private club for boys and girls and they are located in North Pace. The children are between the ages of 8 and 16. The team will include Buona Fortuna Lodge on its website and Facebook page and will display our banner (4′ x 5′) on the field where the team plays.
Jazz Fest 2017
Buona Fortuna members helping in the preparation and sales of shrimp scampi at this yearly fundraiser.
Buona Fortuna members Celebrating St. Joseph’s Day – March 19, 2017
Buona Fortuna Council Members attending the January Grand Lodge Quarterly Meeting on-board the Majesty of the Seas.
Buona Fortuna’s 2016 Charitable Donations:
~ Communities Caring for Christmas ~ $2000.
~ St. Jude’s Research Hospital ~ $1000.
~ Friends of the Disabled ~ $1000.
~ Family First Network ~ $1000.
~ Sons of Italy’s Earthquake Victims ~ $1000.
~ Red Cross.org/Louisiana Support ~ $1000.
~ St. Joseph’s Medical Clinic ~ $1000.
~ Manna Food Bank ~ $1000.
~ Ronald McDonald House of Northwest, FL ~ $1000.
Congratulations to Owen Christopher Battel, Giovanni Emileo Mirra and Kyle J Hill, student scholars, who are the recipients of the Buona Fortuna 2016 Scholarship awards. The students were honored at a dinner on July 14, 2016 and they were presented their awards.
Spring Bocce Tournament First Place: Giovanni & Enrico Mirra; Second Place: Vicki Dvorak & Danica Dvorak
New members inducted at the January 14, 2016 Membership Meeting.
Buona Fortuna members Tod Wilson and Adam Molla (Manager of the Pensacola Carrabbas) played in the Wheelchair Basketball game last night against the Mobile Patriots. The event raised $4100.00 in donations.
Mark DeNunzio National Recording Secretary
Caroline Cianciotta Grand Lodge President
Ed Mottola Grand Lodge Immediate Past President
Bill Zuppa Grand Lodge First Vice President
Tony Cianciotta Grand Lodge Financial Secretary
Lucy Smith Grand Lodge Region 1 Trustee
Bill Smith Grand Lodge DeputyFrom Capozzola Lodge in Crestview
Thomas Hughes Lodge President, his wife, Martha and daughter, Wanda
Carlo Canapa President Pensacola Italian Cultural SocietyCongratulations to Buona Fortuna member, Dr. Mark De Nunzio, on his election as Recording Secretary for the National OSIA. Mark has also been appointed Chairman of the National Membership Commission.
The Sons of Italy in America Buona Fortuna Lodge #2835 presented Manna Food Pantries with a donation for $2,100 on July 15, 2015. The money was raised in May during a Charity Golf Tournament. With this gift, 450 more people will be provided food for a day.Pictured (Left to Right): Robert Bowman, John Coughlin, DeDe Flounlacker, Rita Somma, Thomas Bollenbacher & Joyce Bollenbacher.
Leonard and Ellen Contarino and Arlene Piraux.
2015 Scholarship Awards
The Buona Fortuna Scholarship committee has announced the 2015 scholarship award winners.
They are as follows:
Jamie Hendren Dr. Louis Perillo Scholarship
Garrett Murcko John Carbone Scholarship
Joshua Johnson Russo Family Scholarship
These students were honored and given their awards at a special dinner held on Thursday, July 9, 2015 at our General Membership Meeting at St. Joseph’s.
New Buona Fortuna Bocce Tournament Champions- April, 2015
Buona Fortuna Members celebrated St. Joseph’s Table on March 19, 2015 at St. Joseph’s Church in Pensacola.
Buona Fortuna ‘s Charity Donations Making A Difference
December is the time of the year that Buona Fortuna makes it charitable donations accrued through our fundraising activities. Today, member John Coughlin presented the Executive Director, DeDe Flounlacker, of Manna Food Bank in Pensacola with a $1000.00 check.
Manna Food Bank is one of the charities that Buona Fortuna supports.
MANNA operates with minimal government support and is dependent on donations of both food and funds to sustain its operation and to support a growing base of clients.
In 2011 MANNA helped 40,870 individuals in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties. The demand for nutritionally balanced food supplies continues to grow… as does the need to raise awareness and garner lifeline support.
WEAR’s Sue Straughn accepting Buona Fortuna’s donation to Communities Caring at Christmas from member, Tod Wilson. Communities Caring provides new toys, clothing and daily living needs for abused, neglected or abandoned children living in foster care, children living in poverty and adults with developmental disabilities in Escambia, Santa Rosa, Okaloosa and Walton counties.
Celebrating Our Newest Members
Festa Italiana 2014 brought thirty-one new members to Buona Fortuna and on November 20, 2014 fourteen of the new members were initiated into the Lodge. The remaining new members will be initiated during the next month. We are very happy to welcome these members into our Lodge community.
Members pictured above are Eve and Michael Paquet, Giuliana Anceschi and George Sheldon, Steve and Cheryl Byers, Vincenza Verde, Chris Pino, JoAnne Pryor, Doug and Lorraine Doughty, Rodney and Regina Fillingim and Larry Fordham
OSIA Membership Success Story
Buona Fortuna has been the recipient of the second prize in the OSIA National Membership Success Stories Contest. The winning entry was submitted by member, Jovina Coughlin, Recording Secretary/ Webmaster/Newsletter Editor. The prize of $250 was awarded by Mark DeNunzio, Sons of Italy Foundation Trustee and National Membership Commission Member at the November 20, 2014 General Membership Meeting.
Here is the prize-winning article:
Our lodge, Buona Fortuna #2835, was founded in Pensacola, Florida in November 2006 and, as such, is a babe in the big picture of OSIA lodges. Our founding members had a vision that we could gather our fellow Italian Americans together in the Pensacola area to preserve our Italian culture and traditions and bring awareness of our heritage to the Pensacola community.
One of our initial members attended a peanut festival in 2009 and thought that the idea of a festival promoting Italian food and traditions could be the next step for our Lodge. This member, now the President of our Lodge and the festival chairperson, was able to organize the festival activities, prepare the food, inspire members to volunteer and create the publicity for what became our first, Festa Italiana. This day long event happened in November, 2010 and, at the time Buona Fortuna, had 68 members. The festivities drew about 1000 people to the event and our community got its first taste of what is now our Lodge’s signature dish, Shrimp Scampi. The participants also feasted on the best lasagna, real spaghetti and meatballs and homemade cannoli and tiramisu.
We continued to expand our Festa activities the following year and added to our menu, moved some of our cooking outdoors to utilize the grill for sausage and peppers and we also added vendors who featured Italian goods. The tradition began to grow and so did our ability to attract visitors to the Festa and add new members. In 2012 we made a profit of over $3,900 that ensured our ability to make charitable contributions to our community. Our success established the Festa as a principal fundraising event for the Lodge and, even more importantly, started to bring us new members. In 2012, we added 14 new members as a result of the Festa’s popularity and in 2013 we added 17 new members. We now have 99 members – hoping to hit 100 very soon. We also have a goal of adding 50 new members by the end of next year. Each year, as attendance grew at the Festa and the community became aware of Buona Fortuna, so did our new member sign-ups.
What is it, about what happens at our Festa, that makes attendees want to become members? To start, they are greeted at the door by two very personable and engaging members. One is a founding member who has considerable knowledge about the Sons of Italy and all things Italian and the other is a man who was born in Sicily and emigrated to the United States when he was younger and still speaks perfect Italian. Together they make visitors feel welcome, engage them in a discussion of where their Italian relatives originated from and make them feel proud to be of Italian descent. The atmosphere during the Festa is fun and exciting with music and dancing throughout the day and, of course, there is the delicious homemade food that is available. These prospective members feel our energy seeing everyone working together and want to be part of an organization that has so much tradition and camaraderie. We are eagerly anticipating the 2014 Festa Italiana in November and expect that, now that our festival is established in the community, we will draw even more visitors than last year and increase our membership even more.
Festa Italiana 2014
Held on Saturday, November 15 at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 140 West Government St, Pensacola, FL 32591 was a HUGH success. Thank you to the Bollenbachers for their organization and hard work and all the members who volunteered to make the event a great one! Thank you to the community vistors who attended and enjoyed the day’s activities and wonderful food.
Michelle and Terrell Pusateri joined Buona Fortuna on October 9, 2014. We are so happy to have them as members.
WHEELCHAIR BASKETBALL GAME
Buona Fortuna with John Mirra’s assistance supported Wheelchair Basketball on October 2, 2014 at Olive Baptist Church: the Mobile Patriots vs the Pensacola Celebrities. Buona Fortuna contributed $250.00 to support the team. Wheelchair basketball provides physically challenged adults the opportunity to play competitive wheelchair basketball.
Voices of Pensacola
On October 2, 2014, the UWF Historic Trust opened “Voices of Pensacola” presented by Gulf Power, a multicultural resource center highlighting the city’s diverse history. Through a $605,000 gift from Gulf Power Company and Southern Company, the UWF Historic Trust transformed one of its downtown properties, previously known as the Beacon Building, into Voices of Pensacola.
Voices of Pensacola features dynamic multifunctional exhibits representative of the cultural groups that have shaped Pensacola’s history, and provides a place for residents and visitors alike to gather, learn and tell their rich stories. In addition to the exhibit area, a digital recording station is available to record the oral histories of residents, visitors and others who have greatly impacted the region.
Several of our Buona Fortuna brothers’ and sisters’ stories and artifacts are part of the exhibit. Videos that describe their stories are also available to watch.
Pensacola Seafood Festival 2014
A huge THANK YOU to Dr. Mark DeNunzio and his team, Bob and Patricia Bowman,Thomas Bollenbacher, Ginny Barberi, David and Linda D’Amore, Nancy Colalillo, Carmen Ciardello, Andy and Vera Fricano, Bill and Lucy Smith, Mary and Pete Resedean,Tod Wilson, Jean Cigalotti and Jean Marie Lupkowski, John Coughlin, George and Bonnie Bradley, Brook Hardy, Patricia Russo and Giovanni and Marsha Mirra for all their hard work in making the festival a big success.
2014 Buona Fortuna Scholarship Award Winners:
Dr. Perillo Memorial Scholarship to Robert C. Nusbaum from Pensacola Catholic High School.
John Carbone Memorial Scholarship to Gillian M. Werner from Gulf Breeze High School.
Russo Family Memorial Scholarship to Anthony J. Moffo from Navarre High School.
Florida Senate Resolution #720 -The resolution, sponsored by Florida State Senator Maria Sachs, proclaims October 2014 and each October thereafter as Italian and Italian-American Heritage Month” in Florida.
The Senator’s story has its roots in a World War II romance. Her father, born and raised on a Michigan dairy farm, was a commissioned officer in the United States Army Infantry in World War II. Having traveled up through the Italian coast to liberate Italy, he was struck by the beauty of a young girl in Napoli. They fell in love, and the two of them married and returned back to his dairy farm in Michigan. Maria’s mother was so proud of becoming an American citizen, and she instilled in Maria a strong sense of American patriotism.
This historic event recognizes the sacrifices of our parents and grandparents and the proud heritage of all Italian-Americans.
The 2014 Buona Fortuna Golf Tournament was held on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at the Marcus Point Golf Course in Pensacola. See photos from the Golf Tournament in the Photo Album in the drop down menu on this website.
The Veterans Tribute Tower Memorial of Northwest Florida.
The outpouring of generous support by Northwest Florida Patriots has enabled the purchase of the commemorative Bronze Tower Bell which was cast at Uptown Station on Patriots Day (September 11, 2014). Approximately $175,000.00 will be required to complete this long overdue tribute.
Garibaldi- Meucci Museum Recognition Walkway
The Garibaldi-Meucci Museum, owned and operated by the Order Sons of Italy in America, is a historic house preserved as a memorial to the lives of Antonio Meucci and Giuseppe Garibaldi. The Recognition Walkway is a commemorative brick walkway in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy. This inspiring sidewalk in the front of the historic Garibaldi-Meucci Museum is being paved with commemorative bricks donated by individuals and organizations. Buona Fortuna has a brick in the walkway and you can view it in the photo below.
Certificate of Appreciation
Buona Fortuna was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for supporting the Veterans Memorial Tribute Tower from Bill Zuppa, President of Veterans Memorial Tribute Tower, Inc.