By TAYLOR HARTZ
Mike Fasulo was awarded UNICO’s 70th Gold Medal of Honor on Wednesday evening, after twenty-four years of service with the organization.
“I am in awe of you,” said his tearful sister, Patty Boissonneault, as she pinched her younger brother’s cheeks and wrapped him in a hug.
Boissonneault placed the gold medal around her brother’s neck after several speeches were given applauding his professional and personal achievements.
More than one hundred attendees enjoyed a surf and turf meal in the Aqua Turf’s Glass Room, where they shared laughs and memories throughout the night, celebrating stories of Fasulo’s success in Southington.
Fasulo, who serves on the UNICO Board of Directors and as the organization’s assistant treasurer, was chosen as the gold medal recipient for his active involvement with UNICO fore more than two decades, along with his service to the Italian-American Festival, the Southington Drive-In, and his volunteer work with several community organizations.
“UNICO is where it all started for me” said Fasulo, who became a member in 1991, when he returned to Southington from Boston College.
After thanking friends from Boston College for traveling to Southington for the reception, Fasulo shared that while at BC, not many classmates wanted to return to their hometown, but he always knew he would settle in Southington.
When he did, he found his place with UNICO. “When I joined UNICO it was a perfect fit for me – it was local guys, Italian heritage and community service,” said Fasulo.
“As I learned the club I learned to love it, I loved the involvement and loved what it allowed us to do for organizations that we were able to help,” he said of his early years with the organization.
Throughout his speech, Fasulo emphasized that becoming involved with UNICO led to all his other endeavors in the community. He serves as the chairman on the Parks Board, a board of finance member at St. Thomas, and a volunteer at the Calvanese Foundation.
Several speakers took the stage to applaud Fasulo’s involvement and service. The evening began with an invocation by Father Joseph Petit and a toast by Dennis J. Stanek Jr., Senior Vice President of RBC Capital Markets.
Speeches were given by Nicholas Botsacos, general Chairman of the event and former UNICO president, and UNICO member William DellaVechia, who told stories of both personal and professional paths that led Fasulo to the club in 1991.
He joked of his love of Bruce Springsteen, admired his commitment to his faith, and shared the many obstacles he had overcome, calling Fasulo “the hardest worker UNICO has had.”
Town and state officials spoke on his behalf, praising his commitment to serving the Southington community.
David Zoni, 81st District Representative (D-Conn.) listed off Fasulo’s many achievements, while Southington Town Council Chariman Michael Riccio reminisced about high school memories and read the Official Town Council proclamation applauding Fasulo’s award and accomplishments. The room erupted in laughter when Riccio presented him with what he called the ‘Southington Town Council Golden Stool Award’ – a gold painted step stool.
A life-size cut out of Fasulo and small masks of he and his dog Fredo’s faces decorated the room, while many attendees were adorned with boutonnieres for their involvement in UNICO. UNICO members donned white flowers, and former gold medal recipients were distinguished with red flowers.
The council recognized former gold medal recipients, taking a moment of silence for those deceased and applauding those present.
Wearing the gold medal as their newest recipient, Fasulo humbly accepted the award, thanking his wife, Cheryl Fasulo, and 22-year business partner Marlene Albini for their constant support.
He thanked UNICO for bringing him closer to his Italian heritage and lifelong Southington friends, while offering him countless ways to serve his hometown.
“I’m happiest when I’m working with others” he said as he thanked UNICO for the many opportunities that allowed him to do so.
The standing ovation and dozens of warm hugs and handshakes in congratulations showed how many individuals, families and organizations Fasulo has worked with and impacted in the Southington community.