Lawrence Ladies Lodge # 2026
On April 29, 1952, twenty eight women of Italian descent - under the leadership of Josephine I. Rizzo - formed the Lawrence Ladies Lodge # 2026. They were chartered by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts on March 5, 1953. Their aim was to advance the best interest of the Order Sons of Italy in America and to promote a finer public spirit by assisting worthy charities through social and educational activities in the Greater Lawrence Area. This group sponsored card parties, rummage sales, raffles, weekly luncheons and many social events in order to raise funds, encourage new members, and meet their goal.
In April of 1960, the women of the Lodge purchased the home of the late Dr. Nevers at 246 Andover St., Lawrence where they held their meetings and youth programs. Mrs. Rizzo and the women of this distinguished Lodge were not content with their current contribution to the community and courageously took on the challenge of opening an all-Day Care and Kindergarten for children with working parents. Surviving the red tape, laws, and local and state requirements, the Day Care Center was opened on October 14, 1960. It was staffed by competent teachers and assisted by the women of the Lodge. It is to be noted that this was the only day care center of its kind in this area and it provided for a dire need in the community. Out of this venture, the Service Center of Greater Lawrence Inc. was formed. The affairs of the Day Care Center were governed by the Service Center Inc. Board of Directors which was and continues to be composed of a majority of members from the Lawrence Ladies Lodge. Serving as President of this group for over forty years was Atty. John Sheehy.
As the years went by a second Day Care Center was opened in Methuen to serve the children of working parents. The Ladies remained busy running dinner dances, having spaghetti dinners and hosting a variety of activities to support their charitable endeavors. The Ladies decided to offer scholarships to graduating high school seniors who would need financial assistance. The Josephine I. Rizzo Scholarship, named after their foundress, has been given out to many young women and men throughout the years. Today, three scholarships in the amount of $1,500 are given out yearly. A Lawrence Ladies Lodge #2026 Scholarship of $1,000 is also given at the Grand Lodge level to a senior who will major in education. The Day Care Centers have since been sold and money set aside for worthy charitable causes determined by the Board of the Service Center Inc.
In 1997, the Ladies Lodge invited Mary Ann Esposito of Ciao Italia, public television's longest running cooking series, to participate in a fundraiser. Mary Ann was impressed by the women and what they had accomplished by their hard work through the years. She became a member of the Lodge and continues to offer support whenever she can. The Ladies are very proud to call Mary Ann one of their own.
The Lawrence Ladies Lodge # 2026 proudly celebrated their 50th Anniversary in 2003 and look forward to their 60th in the Spring of 2013. They continue to meet in their original building which is still a day care center owned and operated by Greater Lawrence Head Start. Active with over 60 members, the Ladies continue to be involved in many community activities as they proudly celebrate their Italian heritage together.
Mary Paolino is the current President.
The Lawrence Ladies Lodge # 2026 meets at the C.A.C. Headstart Center on 246 Andover Street, Lawrence, Ma on the 3rd Sunday at 2:00pm.