Italian-American Club Re-Focuses on Charity
The Cosmos Club formed in Fair Lawn in the 1950s, followed a few years later by the Ladies Auxiliary.
For more than 60 years, the Cosmos Club has offered area men of Italian descent a place to convene and satisfy their shared social, cultural and civic sentiments.
Originally formed in 1951, as a joint effort between Fair Lawn's first police chief, Michael Vanore, and a number of other notable residents, the group quickly grew to include 200 members and its own building on Fair Lawn Avenue that housed lively social events each weekend.
Over the years, however, as the founding members aged and social clubs diminished in popularity, the Cosmos Club shrunk in size and, as a result, lost financial support. A couple years ago, the group was forced to sell its original building and move into a smaller location on Morlot Avenue. To increase its ranks, which currently number about 100 men, the group now offers membership to anyone of Italian descent, not just Italian-American Fair Lawn residents and business owners. In fact, the vast majority of members now live outside the borough.
A few years ago, however, a number of the younger, more civic-minded Cosmos, including the group's secretary, Stuart Pace, took it upon themselves to reinvigorate the club by bringing in new and more active members to refashion its mission.
“We’re trying to get the word out that we’re still out there," said Pace, who was recruited to join the group about five years ago. "With more people we can do more for the town than we have been in the past and that’s basically the thrust of what we’re trying to do."
For years, the group has donated to the Fair Lawn Fire Department, Ambulance Corps, local Policemen's Benevolent Association, sponsored an All-Sports baseball team and given out over $5,000 in annual scholarships.
The group's female counterpart, the Cosmos Club Ladies Auxiliary, a group of club members' wives and women of Italian descent that formed a few years after the Cosmos Club, also performs charitable work in the community.
“People need help," Ladies Auxiliary President Kathy Squillante said. "This is a way for us, the more fortunate ones who can, to give back, and that’s the important thing for me."
The Ladies Auxiliary recently made donations to the Opportunity Center, St. Joseph's Rest Home for Aged Women in Paterson and a private individual in need.
For those interested in Cosmos Club membership, Pace said that fees run $165 per year and pay for an end-of-year dinner and full use of the building. The club's building, located at 33-02 Morlot Ave., has a hall in the basement with a full-service bar and large commercial kitchen, and an upstairs club room with a bar, sofa, flat-screen television, pool table and dart board where members regularly gather to socialize and watch sporting events.
“It's important for me to have a place to go and relax instead of having a hundred friends on Facebook and only ever seeing two of them” Pace said. "I think it’s fun to be with a bunch of guys who have similar interests, and with a civic purpose in mind."
The group's regulars convene at the club every Friday night at 7:30 p.m. for a three-course member-cooked dinner that typically includes salad, pasta, a meat or fish dish and discounted alcohol.
"We usually get about 30,35 guys and you hang out and socialize for the rest of the evening," Pace said. "Some guys watch the baseball games upstairs or downstairs, football, whatever’s on. It’s just a lot of fun to be with a bunch of people."
If you're interested in joining the Cosmos Club, you can attend an introductory Friday dinner or call Pace at 201-703-0370 for more information.