Joe Curcio, IBG's president, helped organize the anniversary celebration at Russo's on the Bay in Howard Beach on May 11. He said the group has come a long way since it was founded by a group of prominent Italian-Americans in 1936 at a ceremony at Brooklyn Law School. (Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was the keynote speaker).
Back then, its mission was to help set young Italian-American men on the straight and narrow path. When the size of the borough's Italian-American community began to decline in recent decades, IBG, which is based in Bensonhurst, broadened its focus, Curcio said.
Today the organization provides counseling and supplementary educational services, among other programs, to approximately 3,000 residents of Brooklyn and Queens each year. It's $200,000 annual budget is mostly funded through private donations.
“What we pride ourselves on is adapting our services to the needs of the community,” Curcio said.
Curcio, a real estate and construction consultant who lives on Long Island, was born in Greenpoint. He said his childhood was spent surrounded by Italian-American organizations that inspired him to give back through volunteer service.
When he was connected with the IBG he found the group was a perfect fit.
“It thought it was a great thing they were doing, so I decided to pitch in,” said Curcio, who's also put in stints as the organization's treasurer and vice president. “I've always been proud of my Italian-American heritage.”
To honor that past, IBG launched an inaugural Hall of Fame. The honorees included Victor Anfuso, IBG's founder, several lesser-known figures and, of course, Frank Sinatra.