UNICO was founded on October 10, 1922 in Waterbury, Connecticut. A group of 15 men, led by Dr. Anthony P. Vastola, came together to create what has become a very special and very proud organization. It was Dr. Vastola’s dream to create an Italian American service organization to engage in charitable works, support higher education, and perform patriotic deeds.
In World War I, the Italian American community represented only four percent of the entire United States population. Although 12 percent of all Americans casualties during this conflict were Italian-American, the loyalty of Italian Americans was questioned. The Sacco-Venzetti trial was fueled by prevailing sentiment that Italian Americans remained loyal to their former homeland. Our founders wanted to insure that everyone understood that Italian Americans loved their adopted country and held no allegiance to their native land save traditions and culture.
The name UNICO was selected as best representing the nature and the character of this fledging organization. The name is the Italian word for unique, one of a kind. The founders believed that UNICO would be the only one of its kind because it placed service to the community before and above fraternity. At the same time they hoped that the rest of society would come to know and understand the real contributions of Italian-Americans to our way of life. Its sole purpose was to unite all Italian Americans and motivate them to become more civic minded. In order to accomplish this, members would have to understand that they would have to make sacrifices, not for personal gain, but for service to others. In the ensuing yearsUNICO became an acronym that stood for Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity, and Opportunity.