St. Rocco's steak fry really sizzles

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Countless people know about the talents of Mike Montecalvo, the popular news anchor at WPRI-TV Channel 12 and Fox TV based in East Providence.

What many people don’t know about the widely-watched news man is that Montecalvo has a long-history of giving back to the community in various forms, most notably helping important non-profits like the Special Olympics of Rhode Island.

Back on April 23, for example, Montecalvo was honored as “Man of the Year” at the Dream Center, a non-profit that operates under the title of Accessible Rhode Island and uses money from ongoing fundraisers to improve the quality of life for people with multiple sclerosis and their loves ones.

“We were and always have been impressed with Mike’s commitment and all the services provided by the Dream Center,” said Richard Montella, a parishioner at Saint Rocco’s Church in Johnston. “So, we wanted to so something special to honor both the agency and our brother.”

Montecalvo is also a parishioner at Saint Rocco’s who can usually be found helping make sausage and pepper sandwiches – or whatever functions need doing – at the parish’s annual Feast and Festival that opens tonight at 6 o’clock.

As Montella pointed out, “Mike is our brother … a member of our Holy Name Society and when he received his well deserved honor, we all agreed we that it would be special to honor both the Dream Center and Mike.”

So last Friday evening under the “Big Top” – a 120-foot long by 90-foot wide cathedral tent that will house most events connected with this weekend’s Feast and Festival that runs through Sunday – more than 100 guests turned out for the Holy Name Society’s 3rd Annual Steak Fry.

“It was decided that all proceeds (from the steak fry) would be donated to the Dream Center for their honoring Mike and because of the agencies which are dedicated to improving the lives of persons with disability as well as their loved ones.”

Montella, who wore many hats during the steak fry, most notably that of a one-man public relations band, said “this was the absolute best steak fry we’ve had. We had 16-ounce sirloins that were perfectly char-grilled by Albie Cazeault and Jim Okolowitz, baked beans, baked potato, garden salad, corn on the cop and hot rolls and butter and dessert. What a feast.”

The main meal was preceded by pizza chips and calzones that were donated by Don DePetrillo, Saint Rocco’s next door neighbor who owns and operates The Original Italian Bakery.

“All this for just a $30 (per person) donation,” Montella said. “When all the donations were counted and bills were paid, a donation of $3,400 was made to the MS Dream Center.”

Don and Donna Perna, as well as other members from the Dream Center who attended the steak fry, were perhaps overwhelmed by the generous gift that will go a long way in helping support such programs as art, book club, chair exercise, chair yoga, chair zumba and even hair cuts.

Those folks were even more impressed when they learned that the first Saint Rocco’s Church Steak Fry had 65 people two years ago and this year total tickets sales more than doubles at 145.

“We also had raffles [during the streak fry] to help raise more funds,” Montella noted, adding that “our grand prize was four VIP seats and parking to the Brad Paisley Concert in Norton, Ma. It all added up to helping us honor Mike and also help the Dream Center.” 

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