Beloved Toronto Italian cultural organization celebrates 50 years

Villa Charities Inc. honours half a century of supporting the Italian community and advancing the appreciation and promotion of Italian culture

TORONTO, April 12, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- This week, the Italian-Canadian community across the GTA celebrates the 50th year of their beloved cultural hub – Villa Charities Inc. (VCI).

Since 1971, VCI has been instrumental in connecting lives through intergenerational experiences and services that honour and celebrate all things Italian. The organization began as the Italian Canadian Benevolent Corporation (ICBC) with a mission to raise funds for and develop, administer and coordinate projects in the health, social, cultural and educational fields, which would establish the concept of ‘community’ for Italian-Canadians and their families.

After fifty years, Villa Charities continues to provide cultural and educational programs for all ages while supporting culturally sensitive long-term care and independent living apartments for seniors across the GTA. In so doing, Villa Charities recognizes the significance of and honours the many Italian immigrants who helped build the city of Toronto and surrounding metropolitan areas.

“As we reflect over the past 50 years, we acknowledge the remarkable vision and passion of our Founders, and remain extremely thankful for the legacy that they created, which offers us unlimited opportunities to serve our community,” said Santo Veltri, Board Chair, Villa Charities Inc. “While Villa Charities began from the desire to provide residential care for the elderly Italians in our community, the organization has since transformed and grown, adapting to the needs of the changing community around us, while still remaining true to the core values instilled by the Founders.”

On April 15, 2021, VCI invites the city to join us in the celebration as we commemorate this milestone achievement through virtual initiatives and programming that honour the past, celebrate the present, and look towards future growth and opportunities.

“The last 12 months have brought many challenges in our lives. While programming and celebrations will be largely virtual, we are committed to engaging our GTA community through festivities that commemorate 50 years of Villa Charities,” said Dr. Gina Valle, Chair of the 50th Anniversary Committee. “Our strong and vibrant Italian and Italian-Canadian communities are proud to celebrate the achievements of the organization they helped build so many years ago. It is heartwarming to see the strides that VCI has made. We hope everyone will join us in the celebration.”

Following virtual anniversary celebrations, Villa Charities plans to continue supporting the Italian-Canadian community as it evolves, through its mission and vision:

MISSION – Enriching lives through experiences and services that honour Italian culture and heritage.

VISION – Inspiring people to explore the Italian in all of us.

Villa Charities is marking this memorable occasion through a number of initiatives:

  • Logo and Brand Campaign | A commemorative 50th anniversary logo and creative ad campaign kicked off the anniversary year in January and will run to the end of the year, to promote and celebrate this milestone.
  • Commemorative Videos | TLN Media Group has produced a series of commemorative interstitials featuring interviews with members of the Villa Charities family, including Founders, Board members and stakeholders. These videos will be shared through Villa Charities’ platforms and will air on TLN and Mediaset Italia TV channels throughout April to tell the Villa Charities story.
  • CN Tower Themed Night Lighting | On April 15, 2021, the CN Tower will be lit in the Italian flag colours (green, white and red) in celebration of Villa Charities’ 50th anniversary, signifying the organization’s importance as a pillar for the GTA’s Italian-Canadian community. The themed lighting for Villa Charities will occur on the half hour of each hour, following a standard eight-minute light show, from sunset to midnight. A photo sharing contest will run on VCI’s social media, for a chance to win a $100 Eataly gift card. The lighting can also be viewed on the CN Tower’s EarthCam feed.
  • TORONTO Sign Commemorative Lighting | The TORONTO sign at Nathan Phillips Square will be lit in the Italian flag colours on April 15, 2021. A social media contest allows users to post a photo of the sign on that day for a chance to win a $100 Eataly gift card. Current COVID-19 protocols should be followed for anyone who wishes to participate.
  • Celebratory Message Campaign | As part of the anniversary celebrations, key community leaders, luminaries and renowned Italian personalities were invited to record a brief congratulatory message acknowledging the organization’s milestone. The videos are being shared on social media and will be included in a compilation video.
  • Social Media Campaigns | Social media channels will offer fun and interactive content including throwback campaigns, Top 50 playlists, monthly giveaways and more.
  • Redesigned Website | A redesigned website for Villa Charities will provide an enhanced user experience and deliver experiential resources for patrons interested in cultural programs and experiences.

In addition, cultural programming will be curated across various mediums and will encourage safe and responsible participation during this time of COVID. Further details will be announced at a later date.

As it embarks on its journey to its Centennial, the Villa Charities campus will continue to serve as a destination not only for the multigenerational Italian-Canadian community, but also for the vibrant, broader multicultural community seeking to explore and experience Italian culture and heritage. At the same time, VCI will continue to expand its partnerships and affiliations with Italian and non-Italian organizations that are aligned with their mission, vision and values.

“Our story represents half a century of Italian-Canadian generations coming together to honour culture and celebrate heritage,” concludes Marco DeVuono, Acting President and CEO, Villa Charities Inc. “We are confident that with the continued involvement and support of our community, Villa Charities will thrive for another 50 years. It is our enduring wish that we will inspire many generations to explore the Italian in all of us.”

Villa Charities invites the community to join the 50th anniversary celebrations by sharing how the organization has impacted their lives using #VCI50. Supporters are encouraged to follow Villa Charities on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Instagram: @Villa_Charities / Twitter: @Villa_Charities / Facebook: @VillaCharities
LinkedIn: @VillaCharitiesInc.

For additional images and captions, click here.

About Villa Charities Inc.

Villa Charities Inc. (VCI) is proudly celebrating the 50th anniversary of its founding in 1971. A registered charity, Villa Charities enriches lives through experiences and services that honour Italian culture and heritage. For 50 years across the GTA, the organization has provided cultural and educational programs and supported culturally sensitive long-term care and independent living apartments for seniors. VCI fulfills their mandate through a broad range of activities, services and facilities, both directly and in conjunction with its affiliates and independent organizations. Affiliates include Columbus Centre and Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery; Villa Charities Foundation; Villa Colombo Homes for the Aged Inc. in Toronto; Villa Colombo Seniors Centre (Vaughan) Inc. Di Poce Centre; and Italian Canadian Benevolent Seniors Apartments Corporation/Casa Abruzzo Benevolent Corporation with apartments for independent seniors (Caboto Terrace, Casa Del Zotto and Casa Abruzzo). Each of these organizations is an integral part of the Villa Charities family with separate legal status and its own governance Board. For more information visit

For further information, please contact:
Jessica Patriquin
416-640-5525 Ext. 230

Kathleen Sloan, CM
Director, Marketing and Communications
Villa Charities Inc.
416-789-7011 Ext. 309

Photos accompanying this announcement are available at:

Villa Colombo Toronto Rooftop Ceremony Villa Charities Founders – 1984 Heart in Hand Awards Art Exhibition at the Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery