Humans of Cranston: Maria Manzi

Posted 4/24/24

Humans of Cranston is a recurring column showcasing the stories of Cranston community members’ community involvement, diversity, and unique life perspectives.

Maria Manzi is a life-long …

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Humans of Cranston: Maria Manzi


Humans of Cranston is a recurring column showcasing the stories of Cranston community members’ community involvement, diversity, and unique life perspectives.

Maria Manzi is a life-long Cranston resident. She currently serves as volunteer leadership for several local organizations and works for the City’s Tax Collections Department.

I’m the President of the St. Mary’s Feast Society Ladies’ Auxiliary. Both my parents and my grandparents were all charted members, so they were a big part of that building and its history. My father wrote a book of the whole history of the Itriani people when they came over, the St. Mary’s Feast Society, the apparition, he wrote it all. Like, nobody knew Knightsville like my father. Nobody knew Cranston like my father. It was really a big loss to the community when he passed, because he had so much knowledge of what everything used to be, who the people were, who was related to who, like, he knew it all. I gave him a recorder one year for his birthday so he could start taping it, and I have videos of when he used to talk to my nieces and nephews about stories. I would, while he wasn’t looking, tape it just to have that. It was just the look on their faces, and we’d give anything to have that back again.

I just wanna try and leave a better tomorrow for my grandchildren. Like, when I was in Scouts, they’d say, “leave the world a better place than when you got there,” and that’s what I want to do. I just want to make sure that when I leave this Earth, I leave it better than when I got here, and try and set a good example for people of what to do, you know? My faith is important, like, I don’t know what I would do without my faith. I mean, I love my parish. Father Sisco is awesome. Years ago, I sold Mary Kay and they always said, “faith first, family second, career third, but not thirty-third!” That was one of Mary Kay’s quotes. But that’s important; you have to have your faith, and that’s why the foundation of the St. Mary’s Feast Society, based on the Blessed Mother and just how all of our forefathers came over and the faith that they had to keep the traditions going, the heritage going, is what’s important to me.

At St. Mary’s, we do our annual banquet every year which kicks off the Feast season, and my father started a program book reaching out to businesses and stuff in the community. It started off at maybe 25, 30 pages, but it’s up to about 276 pages now, and it makes so much money for the club. One of his dying wishes in hospice on his deathbed was, “Maria, you have to promise me that you’ll keep doing the program book.” All my family is like, “I can’t believe you’re doing that!” but it’s like, I have to. So, now I continue to do the program book for him every year. Unfortunately, I just had my hot water tank go in my basement a couple weeks ago and a lot was ruined that was his, like the original pictures of things, but I’ve kept like, three copies of everything from when he first started up until now. He was always like, “make sure you keep these.” I still have a lot of his documents and his history, and he loved to write, and I have all of that. He loved genealogy, like tracing the family tree. I bought him the family tracing software one year for his birthday, and it was really cool to do that together. I’ll always cherish that.

I love my community, I love Cranston, I love people. Everybody’s like, “Maria, you should run for mayor, you know everybody,” but it’s just, y’know, I like people helping people. Like, you’re as good as the people you surround yourself with, you know what I mean? So, if you’re surrounded by good people, positive people, it’s good for you. It’s good for the soul. I just try to follow in my parents’ footsteps. That’s how they were. They were both involved in the community in different organizations. Like, everybody’s like, “oh my God, you’re just like your mom and dad,” and I take that as the biggest compliment because my mom and dad were the best. ... It just makes me so proud when I hear people talking about my mom and dad the way they do, and I just hope that someday, people will do that to my daughter and grandkids and be like, “you know, your mom, your grandmother...” Life’s short. You gotta live each moment like it's your last and not take anything for granted, because life can change on a dime.

The second season of this project has been made possible by the Rhode Island Department of Health and the efforts of the OneCranston Health Equity Zone of Comprehensive Community Action, Inc. in partnership with the Cranston Herald and Timothy McFate. The opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of Humans of Cranston participants do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints of the aforementioned parties. The presented stories are voluntarily provided, unpaid, and given verbatim except for correcting grammatical errors.  

Want to nominate a Cranston resident to be featured? Email JB at

OneCranston, HEZ, CCAP


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