YORKTOWN, N.Y. - My Brother Vinny, an organization dedicated to providing assistance to veterans, held its first virtual walk on Flag Day, Sunday, June 14.
Hundreds rallied around the organization and raised a total of $51,077.
Founder and director Paula Miritello said that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, she was worried about the walk since it is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year and provides the funds to help distribute housewares, furniture, clothing and food to veterans. The organization also helps animal shelters, outreach groups, housing shelters and individual families.
“People that are vulnerable and they’re already struggling with mental health issues and then to have the coronavirus on top of everything, which is so scary. It’s so unknown to everybody how you’re going to survive. There are already struggles to make sure you get food on your table. Many people suffer from food insecurity, but then imagine going back to an empty apartment where you have nothing to sit on,” Miritello said. “I’m very thankful that somehow even through the dark time for our nation, we’re still somehow chugging along and trying to make sure we can make the world a better place.”
The organization was founded in memory of Miritello’s brother Vincent Miritello, who lived with cerebral palsy and passed away in 2000 at just 20 years old. My Brother Vinny has helped 1,097 veterans to date.
However, Miritello worried that without the walk, she wouldn’t be able to help those who help this country without possibly bankrupting herself.
She said that even throughout the pandemic, she has been helping veterans. Without the walk fundraiser, she said she would have tapped into her own accounts.
“I said a prayer that we would receive support with extra emphasis on me not having to take a pension loan or 401(k) loan to help our veterans. This is how I funded the early days without ever taking the money back,” Miritello said. “It was an extra unsettling time with all the cards stacked against us with COVID-19, but we knew that we had to persevere. Our veterans needed us.”
But just like those she helps with her organization, she, too, “adapted and overcame.”
The organization held a virtual walk on Sunday, June 14, in honor of Rob Burkard, who passed away in March, and supporters rallied around the charity and the veterans it serves.
“His family walked in all different states. It was fantastic,” Miritello said. “It was such a beautiful tribute to Rob and he’s still going to stay forward in our charity. We put him on our shirt. We have him on our left sleeve. It was beautiful.”
All across the country, hundreds joined in walking to raise money to help veterans. In total, there were 43 teams and more than 350 people who walked in support.
In fact, the “walk with us anywhere” concept was so successful that Miritello said she may never go back to the old model. It also allowed her to livestream, post on social media, as well as see the organization’s supporters across the United States.
She said she thanks all of the charity’s supporters and gave shout-outs to Yorktown Self Storage; Lifetime Video Tributes; Yorktown News; Empire City Garrison, the 501st Legion; Collabergh-Radium Lodge 859; Volz Brothers; Proactive Physical Therapy; Thornwood Architectural Wood; Lake Mohegan Professional Firefighters Local Engine 2956; PCSB Bank; Peekskill Elks Lodge 744; Polyglass USA; Bedford Ford; A&M Hardwood Flooring; Reel Snow; Franzoso Contracting; Patterson Auto Body; West-Fair Electric; Alex and Jaimie Medina; Medina Made Inc.; Bella Brown; Maxine Hicks; organizer Dena DeLucia-Pryzgoda; Diana Trinchitella for providing support; and Stephanie Carillo, Maryellen Howard and Yorktown Pizza & Pasta for all their help.
She thanked all for believing in the beauty of My Brother Vinny, for their belief in her and allowing her to honor her brother’s memory through good deeds.
For more information about My Brother Vinny, visit MyBrotherVinny.org