Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXIII, No. 27
 
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
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Italian Women’s Group Rallies to Help Victims of Earthquake in Picenze, Italy

Dilshanie Perera

With a magnitude of 6.3, the earthquake that ripped through the Abruzzo region of Italy in April left over 65,000 people homeless. Upon hearing the news, members of the Italian Women’s Group of Princeton knew they had to help.

The group, affectionately known as “Le Matte,” which translates to “the crazy ladies,” decided to collect money to assist in rebuilding efforts, but wanted to “make sure all the money went to the people who need it the most,” said Linda Prospero, a long-time member of “Le Matte.”

Noting that the flow of aid has slowed in the months following the earthquake, Ms. Prospero remarked that since people are living in tents, it is particularly important to find housing for the displaced now, before the colder months arrive.

“Le Matte” member Marina Spinazzi found an organization building homes in the village of Picenze, which is just east of L’Aquila, the earthquake’s epicenter, and the women decided that all of funds collected will go directly to the construction efforts in Picenze.

Currently, members of “Le Matte” have collected $1,500, and Dorothea’s House has added $1,000. Ms. Propsero reported that the goal is to send the monies over as quickly as possible.

Those who would like to contribute to the earthquake relief may write checks to the Stark & Stark Trust Account with the memo “Un Villaggio Per Picenze” and mail them to Ellen Stark, a member of the Italian Women’s Group, at 65 Lovers Lane, Princeton, New Jersey 08540.

“The area is near and dear to several members of the group, and Princeton’s sister city, Pettoranello, is in the same region of Italy,” Ms. Prospero noted, adding that Ms. Spinazzi, who is currently in Italy, would visit Picenze in time for the opening of the first newly constructed homes later this month.

“Le Matte” has also helped with earthquake relief efforts in the past by putting together heathcare kits for the Red Cross following the 2004 quake in Southeast Asia.

The group meets weekly during the academic year for “coffee, conversation, and dessert,” and is open to everyone, with the only prerequisite being fluency in Italian.

“Most of us have origins in Italy, and some of us are Italian-born,” Ms. Prospero said, emphasizing that “you don’t have to be Italian, but you need to know the language” to fully participate. “We have members who started learning Italian at Princeton Adult School, and who are now fluent,” she observed.

Beginning with “just a handful” of members approximately 30 years ago, the Italian Women’s Group of Princeton has grown to include over 30 members, many of whom are long-time residents of the town.

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