St. Lawrence Society Honors Couple at Annual Columbus Day Flag Raising
By Richard Kaufman
This past Monday morning, under overcast skies and damp drizzle, nearly 50 Greenwich residents gathered outside of Town Hall for the St. Lawrence Society’s annual Columbus Day flag raising.
Each year, the St. Lawrence Society traditionally honors only one member of Italian descent who has contributed greatly to the Greenwich community, by raising the flags outside of Town Hall on Columbus Day.
However, that tradition was broken this year, as the Society decided to honor two people: John and Sharon Vecchiolla.
Sharon worked as the Democratic Registrar of Voters in Greenwich for 24 years. Her husband, John, has been a part of numerous building committees around town, and is a current member of the Planning & Zoning Board of Appeals. He also works as an attorney, and was previously on the Board of Education. Both have been heavily involved in volunteering.
“[Being honored] was incredible, but I believe the honor should’ve gone to my wife,” John said. “I’ve been honored previously, and she’s done a lot of good work for the town. Without her support, I couldn’t have done all the things I did over the last 40 years plus.”
Local elected officials were on hand at Town Hall, including State Reps. Livvy Floren and Fred Camillo; Town Clerk, Carmella Budkins; Republican Registrar of Voters, Fred Decaro; and Tax Collector, Howard Richman.
U.S. Rep., Jim Himes, was also in attendance and spoke of Sharon’s and John’s impact on the town.
“This is a red letter day on the Greenwich calendar. It really speaks to the incredible strength and the cultural heritage the of the Italian community here in Greenwich,” Himes said. “This is extra special, of course, because of the honoring of Sharon and John Vecchiolla. It’s hard to think of a couple and family that have done more for our town.”
Tod Laudonia, president of the St. Lawrence Society, said it’s important to remember the sacrifices of Italian ancestors who came to America.
“They didn’t have the communication benefits that we do, but they came and assimilated into our American society, and I think they set a great example for all of us,” he said. “Today, we honor those Italian ancestors and this team of two, raising both the Italian and American flags. Raising both flags emphasizes that spirit of cooperation and communication.”
Laudonia went on to say that the St. Lawrence Society has grown from an organization made up of 124 men who came from the town of Calabria, Italy.
“We’re looking to be inclusive for all, as the club continues to participate and help whomever we can help in our expanded community,” Laudonia said.
Along with being tasked to raise both the American and Italian flags, John and Sharon were honored with a proclamation from First Selectman, Peter Tesei, who declared Oct. 8 as Sharon and John Vecchiolla Day in Greenwich.
“Sharon and John are two individuals who really epitomize the strengths of the Greenwich community. They have faith in their family and give back to the community, through John’s service on many levels, and Sharon being an indomitable presence at registrar’s office for 24 years,” Tesei said.