Donio family receives national humanitarian award

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A prominent family from one of the most Italian towns in America received a national honor from the Sons of Italy Foundation. The Foundation is affiliated with the Order of Sons and Daughters of Italy in America, the largest and oldest Italian American organization in the United States.

The Frank and Angela Donio family has dedicated their lives to involvement in charitable and civic organizations, and their efforts have made an indelible impact on the communities they serve.

The members of the family who were honored are Frank G. Donio (posthumously), Angela L. Donio, Father Frank S. Donio, S.A.C., John S. Donio and James M. Donio.

The award was presented at the Sons of Italy Foundation’s National Education and Leadership Awards Gala, which was held on May 23 near Washington, D.C. Joe Mantegna, a Tony and Emmy award-winning actor, currently starring in the CBS television series “Criminal Minds,” served as the master of ceremonies.

The gala has raised more than $33 million for charities over the years. Other honorees and attendees at this annual gala have included President George W. Bush, President Bill Clinton, actor Gary Sinise, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Secretary of State Colin Powell and racing legend Mario Andretti.

“The Donio Family has a long record of philanthropy and volunteerism; we are proud to present them with the 2019 National Humanitarian Award,” Joseph DiTrapani, Chief Operating Officer of the National Sons of Italy Foundation said.

During more than five decades of marriage, Frank and Angela were involved in a wide variety of philanthropic efforts, supporting religious organizations, educational initiatives, and civic change — setting a strong example for all their sons.

Until his death in 2011, Frank, a trailblazer in the produce industry, found time to quietly support individuals and organizations, asking nothing in return. Catholic religious communities of sisters were among his favorite groups, ensuring that they had what they needed “to do their good work.”

Angela has been a passionate advocate for revitalization and conservation. A member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation since 1978, the transformational growth of Downtown Hammonton is the direct result of her leadership.

Their eldest, Father Frank, lives a life in service to the Catholic Church. He is a priest in the Pallottine Fathers and Brothers, a religious community founded in Rome whose first ministry in the United States was to serve Italian immigrants. Father Frank effects change through innovations in faith education, urban pastoral work, and spiritual mentorship.

John is a hotelier leading the resurgence of Wildwood. He supports the arts and spearheads efforts for the homeless and underprivileged in Cape May and Atlantic counties. John continues the family legacy of philanthropy with his son Frank, daughter Ella, and fiancé Jeanene.

Jim has focused his attention in the last 25 years on the renaissance of Hammonton, including his founding and leadership of the Eagle Theatre. A recent recipient of the prestigious Governor’s Jefferson Award for his community service, Jim and his wife Kelly include their three children, Matthew, Juliet and Amelia in their volunteer work, shaping the future for which Angela and Frank laid the groundwork.

The National Humanitarian Award has only been given to 18 other people in the past 30 years. Previous honorees include Frank Sinatra, Tommy Lasorda and Tony Bennett.

John Donio, Father Frank Donio, S.A.C., Angela Donio and Jim Donio with Marianne Principe-O’Neil, Sons of Italy Foundation’s Trustee, during the National Education and Leadership Awards Gala near Washington, D.C. on May 23.