The Columbia Association of U.S. Customs and Affiliated Federal Agencies was founded at New York in 1946 as a charitable, fraternal, social, and non-profit organization open to what was then local Bureau of Customs employees, and other federal employees, of Italian descent. An active organization in the New York trade community for over 60 years, the Columbia Association has now opened its membership to all persons, regardless of ethnic background.
Per its original charter, the underlying purpose of the organization is to uphold the Constitution of the United States, to observe and respect the laws of this country, to stimulate and encourage a unity of effort and purpose among all persons of Italian ancestry, and most importantly to promote equality of opportunity to all peoples and foster a keener spirit of brotherhood, understanding and cooperation among its members.
The Columbia Association aims to encourage ties of friendship among all employee members, perpetuate the ethnic, social, and spiritual traditions of the Italian culture, and to foster better understanding among all ethnicities and cultural backgrounds. The organization has a long history of identifying and assisting those charitable groups and social service organizations that serve the New York community, and to offer fraternal and benevolent assistance to those in need.
The Columbia Association is also a member of the National Council of Columbia Associations of Civil Service. The National Council, founded in 1975, is an umbrella organization representing over 120,000 members in civil service, among them the Columbia Associations for the New York Police Department, Fire Department, Department of Sanitation, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and the National Coalition of Italian American Law Enforcement Associations. Our organization’s current president, Philip J. Maddalena, also served as President of the National Council from 1996 to 1998.
Among the organization’s yearly events is an annual dinner and dance in May of each year, an annual golf outing, and for the past twelve years, a day set aside in October of each year to celebrate Italian Heritage. Over the years, the Columbia Association has given charitable aid and assistance to a variety of worthy recipients, including the Cabrini Medical Center, the Helen Hayes Hospital special rehabilitation facility, South Beach Psychiatric Center servicing the New York area, the American Cancer Society, the Cooley’s Anemia Foundation, the Community Mayors of New York State, Harvest for the Hungry, New York County American Legion, the Federal Woman’s Program, Toys for Tots, the Roger L. Von Amelunxen Foundation, and Leukemia research.
In recent times, the Columbia Association has:
- Raised and donated over $50,000 in February 2002 for the Heroes of the Port Authority Police Department who lost their lives as the result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001
- Raised and donated $14,000 in June 2004 to provide assistance for treatment to an Immigration Officer whose young daughter was stricken with cancer
- Raised $35,000 for donation to the UNICEF Tsunami Children’s Fund in August 2005 as part of the efforts spearheaded by former Presidents Bush and Clinton
- Donated $8,000 in June 2007 to the Rienzi Foundation for Cochlear Implant Research
- Donated $8,000 in August 2008 to the Garibaldi-Meucci Museum located in Staten Island New York
Finally, in an effort to encourage academic achievement, the Columbia Association has established a scholarship program for its members and their immediate families. The Columbia Association is happy and honored to have distributed over $40,000 in scholarship grants to deserving member families over the past twelve years of the program’s existence.
The Columbia Association of U.S. Customs has fostered an atmosphere of benevolence and tolerance, and has opposed all forms of bigotry and bias. For the past 62 years the Columbia Association has been a driving force of good among the New York international trade community, and will, with the help of its members and supporters continue to do so.