Robert Barbera Presents the Mentoris Project

Photo by Al RESTIVO
Robert Barbera explains the goals of the Mentoris Project, a project that focuses on the positive contributions of Italians in society.

Members of Branch 374 of the Italian Catholic Federation at St. Bede the Venerable in La Cañada Flintridge were introduced to the Mentoris Project by Robert Barbera of the Barbera Foundation. The presentation was made during the ICF October Sunday evening meeting.

Barbera is spearheading a movement to bring Italian culture to school children and the general public through a series of books. The books, written by several authors, highlight the accomplishments of Italians and Italian-Americans through history.

“Being Italian is more than a heritage of food, it goes beyond to the outstanding achievements of people like Volta, Leonardo DaVinci, Mother Cabrini, and others,” Barbera said.

The publisher of Italo-Americano, the popular Italian language newspaper, has printed the stories of these remarkable people in history. Barbera, a member of the boards of Pepperdine and St. Thomas Aquinas universities, has worked on projects that he hopes will rescue the history of Christopher Columbus and preserve his noteworthy accomplishments. Through Barbera’s efforts, a statue of Columbus now stands in a special plaza at St. Thomas Aquinas University.

Barbera noted that Mother Cabrini was a frail little lady who migrated from Italy and yet moved mountains in America and points to the genius of da Vinci.

“We have allowed our wonderful culture to be defamed by association with the mafia and assimilation of Italians into the American mainstream as a major cause of the fading of Italian heritage in our society in favor of negatives portrayed by the entertainment industry,” said Barbera.

Barbera has a long history of involvement in Italian organizations in Los Angeles, including the growth of ICF in Southern California. He is the son of Joe Barbera of Hanna-Barbera fame, the producers of “Flintstones” and the “Jetsons.” Several years ago he rescued the failing Italo-Americano newspaper and turned it around into a successful by-monthly bi-ligual newspaper that has become popular again, especially to Italian-Americans.

The Mentoris Project is focused on the highlighting Italian culture in American society.