It will be 10 years ago this coming Friday that the eight-foot, bronze Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Memorial statue on Stacy Boulevard was first placed on its granite boulder, looking out to sea.
Now, an anniversary dinner is planned at the Gloucester House Restaurant to pay tribute to the statute, with the event organized by the same Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association that rallied for decades to raise the money to create the beacon honoring the women and children of the fishing industry, just down the Boulevard and harbor from the iconic Fishermen's Memorial with its Man-at-the-Wheel statue.
"We are in dire need of funds at this point and we hope people will come out to the dinner or help support it by making a contribution," said Angela Sanfilippo, who is president of the Fishermen's Wives Association and has held that post for 34 years.
But it was a generation of women before her that envisioned the creation of the Wives sculpture and memorial.
Grace Favazza, Gerri Lovasco and the late Lena Novella were the driving forces behind this effort to create a memorial that they believed would represent the faith and fortitude of fishermen's wives, as well as the mariners themselves.
"(It) also honors the world's women for their unselfish contribution to the well being of their families and communities," according to the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association statement.
Favazza, a founding member of the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Association in 1969, recalled how they worked 20 years to raise $300,000
"We did a lot of fish-fry dinners and wrote two cookbooks," she said. "We worked so hard, but we loved every moment of it.
"Every time I walk down there to see our beautiful statue, there are tourists taking pictures and they ask would I take a photo of them," she said. "If we start talking, then they say they want to take a picture also with me."
Sanfilippo said she, too, has found the statue has charmed those who come to view it or sit around the benches at the site, which covers about 2,635 feet off Gloucester Harbor.
In the last 10 years, Sanfilippo said she's heard remarks such as "The first time I saw her, I cried" — or "It reminds me of my mother" or someone else close in their life.
"That is the message I get from everybody," said Sanfilippo. "As I walk the Boulevard there are always people there. It's so much fun to listen to all the comments people make.
"Most people are so passionate about it as we are," she added. "They just keep saying how beautiful she is and how beautiful the grounds are kept. But it takes time and dedication."
The statue, which was erected Aug. 5, 2001, was designed by Morgan Faulds Pike.
Invitations for Friday's celebration dinner were sent out to about 500 people on the Fishermen's Wives database. But the group wants to extend the invitation and the news to a broader field, Sanfilippo said.
Up until now, the association hasn't done much fund-raising for maintaining the statue because there had been money to pay for maintenance costs from that initial fund, through contributions and money raised through inscriptions.
"We've been able to manage up until now, but at this point we are all out of funds," said Jeanne Gallo, an association member. "We need to raise money every year. The big push is to try to get people to understand about the maintenance. The city does not maintain the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Memorial. So it's important for people to understand that we pay insurance, that we wash and wax it and pay for other costs."
Their recent appeals letter outlined the costs for 2010: $1,650 for washing and waxing; $1,398 for flowers; $3,216 for planting and landscaping; $2,500 for insurance and $150 for stone restoration, for a total of $8,914.
Those who want to make a contribution, can makes a check out to GFWM. Inc. and send to: GFWM, Inc., P.O. Box 116, Gloucester, MA 01930.
Those who want to attend the dinner or seeking more information may call the Gloucester Fishermen's Wives Memorial at 978-283-2504.
Gail McCarthy may be reached at 978-283-7000 x3445 or email@example.com.