Glen Cove and former Cordoba, Argentina resident Lia Di Angelo, 48, wears many hats; she’s the 2016 winner of pageant Señora Bonita Internacional, the owner of Westbury Floral Designs and the president of Comité Cívico Argentino, or Argentine Civic Committee.
And through her organization, which was founded in 2019 to do good for communities local and abroad, $1,000 has been raised to buy wheelchairs in El Salvador with Kawaljit Chandi and Vivian Pereira, the presidents of Comité Cívico Saladoreño. Another $1,000 has been raised to support Moreano Missions for life-changing cleft palate operations and $500 has been donated to help build a school in the Northern part of Argentina with activist Albert Guini.
“I think that it’s always good to come back to basics,” Di Angelo said. “I feel that when you do something for other people, it keeps you humble. It keeps you from thinking that you’re more than other people.”
And now, during the pandemic, 26 families are receiving free weekly deliveries of groceries and other necessities through her organizations.
“The pandemic hit and I said, ‘We have to do something about this,’” Di Angelo said. “I saw that a lot of people were collecting canned food and things like that, but I was like ‘You know what, I don’t like canned food.’ So, I wanted to provide people with real food and because I have the flower shop, I also have the delivery van.”
Di Angelo has been raising funds through GoFundMe and the app WhatsApp, so far raising over $2,600. “I personally delivered [the groceries] myself just because I speak Spanish and I wanted the [Spanish-speaking] families to see a friendly face coming over to their house, bringing about 10 bags of food or so.”
Oftentimes, Di Angelo said, she would bring two of her children, 9 and 10, with her to do the shopping and deliveries. “I just wanted them to feel the joy and happiness in being able to help somebody else,” she said. “In the beginning they kind of complained about it, but then they said ‘you know mama, it was nice.’”
When DiAngelo is asked why she doesn’t just send the money instead of spending the time grocery shopping and making deliveries, she said it’s because she wants to show love and effort for the families.
Di Angelo has been putting effort in to help others for years. She first started collecting and donating toys for her birthday in December of 2015. “People started asking me, ‘What do you want?’ and I said, ‘I don’t need anything, so just bring a toy for the children,’” Di Angelo said. “The first year I collected about 100 toys.”
Four years later Di Angelo has transformed her birthday into an annual toy drive, which eventually became a gala for the Comité Cívico Argentino, collecting $5,000 and more than 600 toys for less fortunate families who can’t afford to buy their children toys. The money and toys have benefitted local children through a partnership with Nassau County Legislator Siela A. Bynoe and County Executive Laura Curran, Project SALVA, a 24/7 bilingual domestic violence hotline provided through Circulo de la Hispanidad and the Haitian American Political Action Committee of N.Y.
The gala is also designed to celebrate Argentinean culture and to honor those who have helped Di Angelo and her organization succeed, like fellow Glen Cove residents Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, a Nassau County legislator, and Glen Cove Councilman Gaitley Stevenson-Mathews.
She is planning another December gala this year if the pandemic allows it. But even so, $340 has already been raised to give children gifts to open this holiday season.
Vice president of Comité Cívico Argentino, Hugo Amorini, called Di Angelo a very generous person who is supportive of her community. “She has a heart dedicated to people who are in need,” said Gil Bernandino, who is the president of organization Círculo De La Hispanidad. Bernandino has worked with Di Angelo in the past to collect toys for Evergreen School children.
And Hugo Amorini, the vice president of Comité Cívico Argentino described her as a team-player who has been doing a wonderful job through the pandemic. “A wonderful lady, wonderful,” he said. “She’s very nice and I like working with her.”
Ronny Reyes contributed to this story.