Dr. Mary Rorro, DO Receives Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award

Mary Rorro, DO has been honored with the Presidential Gold Volunteer Service Award, bestowed by President Joe Biden. The award was established by executive order by George W. Bush to honor outstanding volunteers that give hundreds of hours per year helping others and recognizes the impact they make, through the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation. The Gold level indicates more than 600 hours committed to community service, which she provided through her leadership work with the American Medical Women’s Association.

Dr. Rorro is a physician, songwriter and published poet and writer. She is Physician Chair for the AMWA Music and Medicine Committee and Co-Chair of AMWA’s Medical Humanities Committee.

In her psychiatric practice at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Dr. Rorro plays viola for patients under her care as part of a music program she created in the VA, known as “A Few Good Notes.” As part of the program, Dr. Rorro performs as well as recruits fellow employees to perform with her on inpatient units and in outpatient clinics.

Patients have played guitar with her on viola, as part of their guitar lessons through the Guitar Instruction Group. Dr. Rorro has observed the remarkable impact music has made on their journey toward healing.

Dr. Rorro has composed many original songs and instrumental pieces and coordinated with AMWA Music & Medicine and Medical Humanities members to orchestrate multimedia videos, including:

She also helped spearhead the inaugural issue of Humanities and Healing: An Arts and Medicine Journal, a project conceived by Dr. Rorro and her Medical Humanities Committee Co-chair, Dr. Gloria Bachmann, who is director of the Women’s Health Institute of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. The “Humanities and Healing: An Arts and Medicine Journal” showcases the work and talents of more than 50 physician and pre-medical student artists. It was published jointly by AMWA’s Music and Medicine Committee and Rutgers’ Women’s Health Institute. Dr. Rorro organized, and colleagues joined her in making two presentations about their work.

Dr. Rorro’s community service commitment and artistry have been recognized in varied settings. She played her viola for HRH Prince Emanuele Filiberto, Prince of Venice, Italy, at the Gala of the American Foundation of Savoy Royal Orders in December, 2022 in New York City.  She has been published twice in issues of “Antenna,” the Journal of the Royal Entomological Society (Queen Elizabeth II was the former Patron of the Journal).

In addition to composing the Centennial AMWA Anthem, Dr. Rorro composed international Anthems for other organizations, including Filitalia, an organization promoting Italian heritage and culture, and “A Chance in Life,” a charitable organization founded in Italy after WWII to help orphans and disadvantaged youth.

In 2018, Dr. Rorro was honored alongside her mother, Dr. Gilda Rorro, with the New Jersey State Governor’s Jefferson Awards, the official volunteer/public service recognition program of the United States Senate. Dr. Mary Rorro’s Jefferson Award was given in recognition of her “extraordinary volunteer service in support of veterans.”

Dr. Gilda Rorro Receives Prestigious Pirandello Honor

Cav. Dr. Gilda Battaglia Rorro Baldassari has been very active throughout her 50-year professional career as an educator, honorary diplomat, and actress, but the past 14 months have been remarkable.  On January 1, 2022, she was selected as the first national Donna Distinta recipient by the Conference of Presidents of Major Italian American Organizations in the United States (COPOMIAO). In May of that year, she and her daughter Mary joined the COPOMIAO trip to Rome, where they attended a private audience with Pope Francis, His Eminence Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State at the Vatican, and numerous other officials.

Dr. Rorro addressed the Secretary of State, his designated officials, and the other tour attendees in a Vatican conference room. She spoke about the status of The Universality of Italian Heritage curriculum project of the New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission, of which she is the Chairperson since 2003. She mentioned the development of teacher-friendly education videos on current contentious topics such as: Immigration, including the four voyages of Christopher Columbus to the New World, and her efforts in working with her “Columbus Statue Restoration” project in Trenton, New Jersey.

Another video was recently finalized on the Italians and the Holocaust, which includes the role of Pope Pius XII in saving Jewish lives during the Holocaust. The latter was developed in consultation with the New Jersey Office of Holocaust Education. At the conclusion of her remarks, Cardinal Parolin commented publicly that he considered Dr. Rorro’s curriculum overview to be most relevant for bringing mutual understanding and respect to all people.

On returning from Rome in June she received the International Italian American Educators Award, and the Filitalia International & Foundation Heroes Award in recognition of her: “courage, dedication, patriotism, strength, and sacrifice towards our countries and communities.”

Arcadia University, her alma Mater (formerly Beaver College), conferred two Certificates of Appreciation in appreciation of her volunteer service in 2021-2022.

The Ocean County Columbus Day Parade Committee unanimously chose Dr. Rorro as the 2022 Parade Grand Marshal in Seaside Heights, New Jersey.

Dr. Rorro gave several presentations on the curriculum in Toms River and virtually for the Filitalia organization’s Valentine Serenade titled: the Many Faces of Love. Another focused on her book: Gilda, Promise Me, and a brief chapter titled From Southern Italy to Southern New Jersey. The former Italian Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, Hon. Andrea Canepari, asked her to compose the piece in his work titled The Italian Legacy in Philadelphia: History, Culture, People, and Ideas. At a launch of the latter, Joseph P. Lucia, the Dean of Libraries at Temple University, formally accepted both books into the Temple University Library.

The Gemellaggio (Sister City) project initiated with Dr. Rorro between Umbria and New Jersey is ongoing since 2006. In March, Dr. Rorro hosted an Italian delegation from Cascia and Monteleone di Spoleto at her home. Students and faculty from Umbria attended with representatives from Nottingham High School in Hamilton Township, as well as the Principal of Our Lady of Sorrows Elementary School, Maureen Tuohy. The Mayor of Hamilton Township, Jeffrey S. Martin, the Superintendent of Schools in Hamilton Township, Scott R. Rocco, Ed.D., building principal at Nottingham High School, Frank Ragazzo, Giulia Vallucci, teacher of Italian and tour organizer, and presidents of several Italian American Organizations: The Amici della Lingua Italiana, Janis Morelli, Esq., and Gregorio Candelieri of Filitalia, also attended. In June, Giulia Vallucci will escort her students from Nottingham High School to visit their counterparts in Italy.

On April 1, Dr. Rorro was proud to be one of the honorees in Boston, Massachusetts, to receive the Pirandello Lyceum I Migliori in Mens et Gesta: The Best in Mind and Deeds, 2023 Honor Awards. Her category was as an Italian Culture Advocate, Educator, Author. Boston Magazine has called the I Migliori Award the most prestigious honor to be received by a person of Italian descent.

Dr. Rorro is scheduled to be guest speaker at the Columbus Citizens Foundation in New York City on May 16.

Dr. Gilda Rorro receives the Pirandello Lyceum I Migliori in Mens et Gesta: The Best in Mind and Deeds.


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