I am a first generation Italian American, born in San Francisco. My father owned an “Alementari”, a traditional Italian market in San Francisco’s North Beach and I grew up with all things Italian.
Family and friends were very important – still are. I have one daughter that was raised in Petaluma. I owned and operated an award winning graphic design business in Petaluma for 15 years.
In 1999, I moved to Italy, where I taught English as a Foreign Language and started an Italian travel consulting business. In late 2008, with grandchildren and ill parents in the picture I found myself back in the Bay Area, trying to figure out what I was going to do with this next chapter of my life.
One day, as I was exiting the Bay Bridge I saw a billboard. A billboard that changed my life.
I had started back to school several times, but my business had always pulled me back. It was an unfulfilled dream that I had thought was too late to pursue. That evening I mentioned the billboard to a friend, who said “call NDNU”.
NDNU’s Human Services degree sounded perfect for me. I knew I wanted to help people, and soon after starting I decided to add Gerontology as a concentration.
I am often asked why gerontology?
In 1999 I moved to Italy and had the great pleasure of living there for nearly 10 years. One thing that struck me was the presence of the aged everywhere I went. . . elderly nuns on bicycles, the gathering of a group of nonni (grandmothers and fathers) playing cards at the local bar, under umbrellas, chatting about news headlines, the Italian government, grandbabies, dogs, and of course, calcio (soccer). I learned to pick the perfect melon from the old women in the market, and to season my pork roast to perfection from the old man at the butcher shop. I was welcomed to join in on conversations as I passed groups on park benches during my passagiate (afternoon walks). Italian life is such that people are out and about. Everyone. From infants in strollers to those in their 90s. People walk or bike or take a train or bus to work, and the extended family is still very much alive, even if the economics of necessity is changing that, too. When I came back here to visit I noticed that there were very few elderly around. My life long attraction to older friends, my love of story-tellers, has led me to the place where I am now. Italy showed me what a contribution our seniors can make if only given the opportunity and the culture in which to partake.