At the Dec. 2 President's Cabinet Dinner, Fr. Edward Reese, S.J., presented Yvonne Sangiacomo with the President's Award for her service throughout the decades to SI and to many charities in San Francisco. The citation was a spoken-word poem read by Student Body President Michael Lundgren, Senior Grace Pating and Father Sauer Academy teacher Connor Geraghty '09. Below is the text of the presentation.
For Yvonne Sangiacomo, three is a sacred number.
A lucky number.
Three signifies the Holy Trinity.
For Yvonne, there's another trinity:
Faith, family and city.
She has served these three for decades.
Born the daughter of famed impresario Agostino "Bimbo" Giuntoli
And a loving mother, Emilia Rosellini,
She marched to her own drumbeat from the start,
So much so that her parents sent her to boarding school:
To Notre Dame Belmont, where she fooled her parents and the nuns
By folding only the top layer of clothes in the drawers
While, below the surface, she stayed true to her authentic self.
When her younger sister died, she transferred to Convent,
But the call of the stage was strong.
She trained to be an actress
And performed for soldiers during World War II.
She met her husband, Angelo Sangiacomo, at a party on Geary.
"I fell in love with him at first sight," she says.
Two years after they met,
Angelo's friend, Fr. Jon Lo Schiavo, celebrated their wedding.
It was his first ceremony. He was so nervous, his hands shook
As he blessed the union of this blessed couple.
Then, nine months and three days later,
Her first child was born.
Remember: Three is her lucky number.
Seven is lucky, too, as she had seven children.
"They were pretty darn good," she says.
"There were so many of us,
We had to help each other.
Heaven only knows what I never heard about."
For Yvonne, her family always came before her,
And, very simply, her duty as a mother
Was as sacred as her love of faith and Church.
She sent her three boys to SI,
Where they learned to be men for others.
"There they became part of the Jesuit family," says Yvonne.
"They gained a sense of belonging,
And they learned they could set the world on fire,
Which is what Saint Ignatius called his followers to do."|
While Yvonne raised her family,
Angelo devoted himself to his company, named for the trinity,
And to building a new San Francisco.
Before he died, his crowning accomplishment
Was Trinity Place, with a piazza straight out of Italy
And a statue of Venus nearly as tall as Lady Liberty
Rising from the ground like Jacob's Ladder
Swirling towards the heavens like an uplifted prayer.
While Angelo planned for this monument to the city,
Yvonne devoted herself to helping others.
She funded the Little Sisters of the Poor
And their work serving the impoverished elderly.
She did this the best way she knew how:
With the Red Tie Gala, a party at Neiman Marcus
That was the place to be for those in SF
Who wanted to do good while having a good time.
For Yvonne, celebration and service went hand in hand.
Helping at St. Anne's, said Yvonne, made her life rich.
She didn't stop there.
This woman has the biggest heart in the city,
She has helped Meals on Wheels, the Salesian Boys and Girls Club,
The St. Vincent de Paul Society, the Schools of the Sacred Heart,
The City of Hope, the Pomeroy Center,
Santa Clara University and, of course, SI,
Where her family foundation sent $3 million
To fund the Father Sauer Academy,
Named for a man who has become her family priest.
The Academy, she hopes, will launch generations of scholars
To make a new SI, a new San Francisco, a new world.
That is why, today, we gather for Yvonne Sangiacomo,
Who has already been praised by so many:
By the Little Sisters with the St. Jeanne Jugan Award.
By St. Vincent de Paul with the Frank Brennan Award.
This time, it's personal. SI offers Yvonne
The highest honor we bestow upon non-alumni:
The President's Award — in thanks for all she has done
And continues to do for those in her beloved city
Who will always look upon this Venus,
This embodiment of love,
This guardian angel,
Who is our very own emblem of luck.
Thank you Yvonne. And God bless you.