West Haven’s Italian American of the Year has ‘long history of public service’

WEST HAVEN — Westies Care founder and President Phil Liscio has been chosen as the city’s Italian American of the Year, and will be honored at a celebration this week, according officials.

Mayor Nancy R. Rossi and the West Haven Italian Heritage Committee will present the annual award at noon Oct. 15 at City Hall, the city said in a release.

The award is given each year to “an Italian resident or couple who personifies service in the city’s close-knit Italian American community,” it said. Friday’s event will feature Italian music and an “Italian-flavored lunch,” the city said in the release.

“With humility I am honored to be named West Haven’s Italian American of the Year and to be added to a list of such notable Westies as Francine and Mario Coppola, Aniello Cappetta and Grace Hendricks,” Liscio, grandson of immigrant grandparents from the town of Monteleone di Puglia in the province of Foggia, Italy. said in the release.

“I was raised in a household where diversity, equality and assisting those in need crystalize the hallmark of our ancestors who created this great country through immigration,” Liscio, 65, said.

“Phil has a long history of public service in West Haven,” Rossi said. “He has touched so many lives through his volunteer efforts.”

According to the release, Liscio collects food for the food pantry at the First Congregational Church of West Haven and the pantry at the West Haven Emergency Assistance Task Force.

Rossi said in the release that Liscio “has touched so many lives through his volunteer efforts.”

“West Haven can always count on Phil,” Rossi said. “Even through the pandemic, when people were challenged by hunger and shortages, he was providing meals to anyone in need. It is my great pleasure to recognize Phil in this way.”

For example, for three months starting in May 2020, Liscio and Westies Care “teamed up with the city and the First Congregational, Our Lady of Victory and Vertical churches to deliver 13,000 meals to needy residents and front-line health care workers during the height of COVID-19.” according to the city. “The meals — 20 pizzas per day on weekdays and five trays of ziti and Italian bread per day on weekends — were donated by Lorenzo’s Restaurant of West Haven.”

Also as part of the ceremony, the mayor will present Liscio with an embroidered “Italian American of the Year” jacket and a mayoral citation “for his civic-minded good works,” the release said. He also will receive an Italian flag from Paul M. Frosolone, president of the Italian American Civic Association, and Roberta Daniels DeFonce, a past president of the association’s Ladies Auxiliary.

Liscio, a resident of West Haven since 1991, “founded Westies Care in 2009 in memory of his son, Daniel L. Liscio,” the release said. “To honor his undying spirit, the Liscio family established a scholarship program and organized community outreach projects in Daniel Liscio’s name.”

The nonprofit Westies Care’s charitable contributions “have included raising money for the West Haven Breast Cancer Awareness Program, WHEAT and the Friends of Fisher House CT,” the city said, and “Westies Care and their sponsors have awarded more than $100,000 in scholarships to high school seniors from West Haven who have continued their education.”

Liscio also is a longtime member of the West Haven Rotary Club is on its of directors, the release said. He has volunteer efforts in the city include having coached girls basketball and softball and serving as PTA president of Mackrille Elementary, Bailey Middle and West Haven High schools.

Liscio works at Yale University as a security guard and at First Congregational Church as facilities manager, and volunteers as the church’s community outreach chairman, the release said.

Liscio and his wife of 30 years, Janet, live on Bluff Avenue near West Shore’s Sea Bluff Beach. They have two daughters: Courtney Liscio, of Somerville, Mass., and Lauren Liscio, of Brooklyn, N.Y., according to the release.