Unsung Heroes: Frank Vitaliano Helps People to People Feed Rockland’s Neediest

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Dedicated to helping others w/kindness and cheer/PtoP
Dedicated to helping others w/kindness and cheer/PtoP

Each of us knows someone who makes our day with a smile and a friendly hello, someone we can’t wait to see. For many in Rockland County, he’s People to People van driver Frank Vitaliano.

“Frank was part-time Food Pantry Assistant when I first became Executive Director of People to People in 2008,” Diane Serratore said. “Since then, Frank’s responsibilities have been shifted to transportation as the need to pick up food contributions has increased greatly.”

He became Transportation Associate in 2010, making pickups at the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley about three times a month and pickups during the month from schools and other groups that held collections for the nonprofit.

“I love working here,” he said Monday morning after pulling into People to People with 2,000 pounds of vegetables from Fairway Market.

Serratore said during the past two years Vitaliano’s food pickups “increased significantly due to an enhanced role for People to People in the Retail Reclamation Initiative of the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern NY and Feeding America.”

Despite his family’s health issues, “Frank brings a full-time commitment to his part-time job at People to People and has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever met,” she said.

Vitaliano, 61, formerly worked at General Motors in Tarrytown and in Linden, New Jersey.

A Rockland resident since age 15, he and his wife Laura celebrated their 28th wedding anniversary in April. They have two daughters and one son and are expecting their second grandchild in September.

“My six-year-old grandchild always asks if he can come with me to People to People,” Vitaliano said. He was pulling into the driveway after making a pickup.

In between visits to Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York City and its satellite offices in Westchester — his wife is battling cancer; one daughter is recently cancer free, and his son has been cancer-free for several years — he travels to Rockland County (where 95 percent of his pickups are), New Jersey and Tarrytown.

From 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. he stops at food banks, supermarkets and restaurants — BJ’s Wholesale Club, Red Lobster, The Cheesecake Factory, Outback Steakhouse, Chipotle, Target, Bonefish Grill — and more.

Restaurants at the NYS Thruway Authority Travel Plaza in Sloatsburg and the Garden State Parkway Rest Area in Montvale, New Jersey, also supply People to People with sandwiches, fruit cups and yogurt.

Vitaliano also delivers 250 bags of food containing macaroni and cheese, Cup-a-Soups, and fruit packs every Thursday and Friday. “These are weekend food bags that I bring to the Nyack Center and Haverstraw Center, and to Jawonio (in New Hempstead), one bag for kids and one for adults,” he said.

“Frank is a doll,” Nyack Center Director Kim Cross said. “He is friendly and delightful. Our custodian Wesley Carrington races around on Friday mornings to make sure the bins are ready for Frank’s delivery.”

Send your idea for Unsung Heroes to editor@rocklandcountytimes.com

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