Besides the supportive network of neighbors, Italian communities often sponsored more formal organizations to benefit immigrants.1 Joseph DiGiacomo, Andrew Massaro, and Benjamin Zarlengo spearheaded La Societa’ di Beneficenza e Mutuo Soccorse (Society for Beneficence and Mutual Aid) in 1910.2 The club taught English and Italian classes, prepared Italians for citizenship exams, provided mutual aid, and introduced Italian heritage and customs to the local community. The Society built “Town Hall,” a two-story brick building on Palmer Street to hold their meetings and night classes.
Today, the Italian Society can be seen in the legacy of the Lamplighter’s Club. Much like the original society, Lamplighters seeks to preserve Italian heritage and serve as a beacon of goodwill and aid in the community. Formed in 1947, Lamplighters built a hall on Rebecca Street in 1952. The club continues to serve as a gathering place and as an agency for community outreach.3
1 David T. Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State: Fraternal Societies and Social Services, 1890-1967. (Chapel Hill and London: The University of North Carolina Press, 2000) 19.
2 Dominic Iannarelli, “The Italian Society of 1910,” A Touch of Italy in Wooster. (Wooster: The Daily Record, 1968).
3 Ibid., Iannarelli, “The Lamplighters Social Club,” A Touch of Italy in Wooster.