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Towards establishing the Centro Italiano di Assistenza (CIDA)

From 1968, as member of a St. Vincent of Paul chapter in the Italian community, Franco Gucciardo was close to the day-to-day needs of an immigrant community.  Mr. Amedeo DiLullo, administrator at City of Montreal Social Services, and Mr. Ernesto Capponi also of the society were mentors for Franco Gucciardo.  On a weekly basis, and at times more often, they catered with dignity to the most basic pecuniary needs of some members of the community.  This community service helped to shape a vision for change in a young Franco Gucciardo.
The Ministère de l'immigration du Québec and the Montreal Catholic School Commission teemed, in 1971, to organize courses in Family Economics.  Mr. Robert Attard of the CECM coordinated this project.  Members of several communities were invited to follow a training period, so that their acquired knowledge would benefit, through future courses and conferences, their individual community.  Franco Gucciardo accepted this invitation representing Italian community needs and view points.

Notes on community needs

Only through the parishes was there evidence of social support.  The lack of coordinated efforts to provide diversified community services to the growing Italian population of Greater Montreal was a drawback for socio-political participation and integration.
The concept of OCCIM (Organismo Centrale della Comunità Italiana di Montreal) evolved from Gucciardo's vision of a new italo-canadian community structure.  Gucciardo's development efforts were supported and validated by Manuel Batshaw, then Executive Director of the Allied Jewish Community Services in Montreal, with whom he established a close relationship.

OCCIM organizational chart

By March of 1972, the focus of OCCIM was aimed towards direct services for the community.  Gucciardo initiated a drive to promote organized multi-disciplinary services in Italian for the Italian community.  The first group meeting convened for this purpose, in which active members of the Italian community participated, was held April 5th, 1972, in the offices of PICAI.
The Centro Italiano di Assistenza (C.I.D.A.) was born.

C.I.D.A. organizational chart

C.I.D.A. first official meeting

Support for C.I.D.A. came from various organizations

PICAI's tangible support for C.I.D.A.

Femiria Perini assisted Gucciardo in putting together letters and documents.  Exposure of the proposed CIDA services reached beyond the community and communication channels were established with organizations and government agencies.  An initial proposal was presented to Mayor Jean Drapeau in May of 1972.  Also, the SSSF (Société de services sociaux aux familles) was very supportive.

C.I.D.A. project proposal to the City of Montreal

C.I.D.A. presented to the SSSF and Roger Prud'homme

C.I.D.A. acknowledged by Multiculturalism