NYer Of The Week: Al Vitale Helps Fund Jobs For Unemployed NYers
Being unemployed in a City as expensive as New York can be horrifying. But this week's New Yorker of the Week is helping people get back to work in a unique way. NY1's John Schiumo filed the following report.
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When reports paint a bleak picture of homelessness and unemployment, Al Vitale sees opportunity.
"I believe that the foundation of this country, other than its freedom of speech and military strength that makes this country strong, is jobs. That's economically the most important thing," he says. "We have all been through things and even if it's not the loss of a job or the loss of a loved one, pain and a broken heart, it's all the same."
A Bronx native, Al had seen those broken hearts walking the streets for years. Then one day, he had an idea.
"I wanted to make it simple," he says. "There are so many people who have the ability to do something but don't have the opportunity."
Al reaches out to local store owners and asks them to hire a New Yorker who's unemployed. In return, his charity, Hope for the Friendless, raises funds to pay the salary.
"The purpose for this is just to get somebody who is maybe down on their luck tell them that there is somebody behind them that believes in them, give them a chance and let them go to work immediately so that they can feel better about themselves," he says.
A job at Margie’s Bridal Salon did just that for Mae Ann Gilbert-Demartino.
"It gave me a great deal more self-esteem," she says. "I lost my husband. I was kicked out on the street. No money, nowhere to go. I'm a United States veteran and I'm stunned in many ways that that could happen to me."
"I thank God for people like Al," she adds. "It's very important and very significant and it's given me hope."
"It doesn't matter where you are from or what your background is," Al says. "People are basically the same. They just want to take care of their families."
So, for providing hope and a salary to his fellow New Yorkers, Al Vitale is our New Yorker of the Week.