As the colony grew in numbers, social services and institutions began to take root. In 1884 La Fratellanza, the first Italian society in Connecticut, was formed. It linked thirty families to one another, its stated aims including the desire to “promote citizenship” while “reserving a love for the motherland.” That same year La Marineria, another mutual aid society, was founded, headed by Dr. Ciro Costanzo. These two societies and most others were organized on the basis of the place of origin. They were often named after political figures prominent in Italy or a village’s patron saint. Societies allowed fellow townsmen to continue to support one another as they had in Italy.
Many mutual aid groups provided charity, sickness, and death benefits. Some provided recreational opportunities and cultural enrichment, and sponsored athletic events. Some even included the political aim of Americanization. The effectiveness of the various mutual aid groups was evidenced by the very small percentage of Italians who applied for organized charities or found themselves on the town’s relief roll. Even though Italians were among the poorest residents of the city, their numbers on the charity rolls were disproportionately low.