At Thanksgiving, many take time to be grateful for their family, friends, and what they have. For Yorktown Heights resident Paula Miritello, Thanksgiving – and every day – is all about giving.
Miritello has always been about helping others. She took care of her brother Vinny who had cerebral palsy until his death in 2000 at age 21 and then continued with charity work in her brother’s memory, raising funds for various causes from the Special Olympics to mental health groups to charities that help those with special needs.
"Although, he could not walk or talk he had the most beautiful personality, loved to laugh and spend time with his family," said Miritello.
In 2013, the focus of her work changed when she heard that veterans working to get their lives back on track were given apartments -- but nothing else -- through a government initiative. Often without full-time jobs or family support, they were left waiting months to receive furniture and basic necessities like towels and plates.
Moved by their plight, Miritello decided to see what she could do, and the seeds for a charity were formed.
“It was impossible not to help,” said Miritello.
My Brother Vinny , named after Miritello's beloved brother, works to help vets make new homes by distributing food, clothing, housewares, and furniture. Thanks to 100 percent donations and volunteers, her organization has so far helped over 500 veterans make new homes in Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester counties.
Veterans are referred to her group through the VA and other agencies.
“We give them everything: beds, kitchenware, tables, chairs,” said Miritello. She hit the jackpot when she reconnected on Facebook with an old friend who is a hotel renovator and donates the old furnishings to My Brother Vinny.
“We just picked up furniture from the Embassy Suites hotel at Logan Airport in Boston,” said Miritello.
This is where volunteers come to play. It takes many people to pick up and move all the necessary furniture. Veterans that have already benefited from My Brother Vinny are key volunteers.
“Wayne, a veteran –#190 – we helped in Yonkers, is one of my top volunteers," said Miritello.
"We moved him into his first apartment ever – his own place at age 50. He’s doing wonderfully.
“Our society makes it difficult for those in need to get support services. If you can do more, give more, be more! Go out and do it!”
Miritello, who was named a "Woman of Distinction" by Sen. Terrance P. Murphy (himself a Yorktown resident), urged all to remember those in need – especially our veterans – not just at holiday time but year round.
To find more information or to donate, visit My Brother Vinny .
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.