Joseph Altieri, a chemical operator, and Ivette Altieri, an administrative assistant, explain that they are first and foremost proud parents of five wonderful children, who range in age from eleven to sixteen. Joseph is a lifetime resident of New Haven and Ivette has been a resident of New Haven since 1997.
In 2006, the oldest Altieri son, Anthony, attended High School at Sound School, where he was required to obtain community service hours as part of the curriculum. After completing the necessary hours, he wanted to continue serving the community.
“Young people participating in volunteering teaches us about respect, maturity and helping others less fortunate or those that may be struggling at one point in their life,” said sixteen year old Anthony. “It is a good thing because it helps our environment and community.”
The Altieri’s saw Anthony’s passion for helping others as an opportunity to become more involved. Ivette sent an email to members of their extended family, asking if they would be interested in participating in a service project. She received an overwhelming number of responses, and realized that she needed some guidance to find non-profits in need. At this time she contacted United Way of Greater New Haven for some direction and the Altieri Family has volunteered almost once a month ever since.
“We enjoy demonstrating to our children how to give back,” said Ivette.
A few of the organizations to benefit from the Altieri’s generosity are Life Haven, New Haven Home Care Recovery, the Emergency Men’s Shelter, New Haven Homeless Resource Center, and Taking Initiative Center. Most recently, the Altieris organized a clean up of Lighthouse Point Park through United Way’s annual Days of Caring.
The Altieris are also great supporters of the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society and have involved their children’s schools in fundraising events for those causes. In April 2007, the Altieris organized their own fundraiser by contacting local business owners, writing letters, preparing flyers, and making phone calls. The event was a true success, raising nearly $3,000 for cancer research, which they donated through Relay for Life. The family plans to make the fundraiser an annual event.
A story that is close to the hearts of everyone in the family is depicted below:
After the annual American Diabetes Association Walk-a-thon in New Haven, our family decided to grab a quick bite at McDonald’s in Wallingford, still wearing our Walk-a-thon shirts. Out of the blue, the cashier said “Oh, you guys did a diabetes walk?” He looked at us with a heartfelt and sincere voice and said “Thank you. I’ve been a diabetic since I was a teenager and it really means a lot to me. Thanks for walking and raising money for something that’s important to me.” It caught all of us off-guard and the feeling was indescribable. We know people appreciate our volunteer work, but hearing about the widespread impact we can have was absolutely amazing.
In the past few years, the Altieri Family has grown to exemplify the best of Greater New Haven community citizens and role models for other families. “Everyone should become involved in our community simply because we all need a little help from time to time,” said Ivette. “I must say that United Way has been a tremendous part of our life. Our family has become stronger and more united within our community. The best part is helping and involving our youth. They are our future.”
With parents like Joseph and Ivette, the future of the Altieri family seems promising not only for the family members, but also for the non-profits for which they volunteer. “Volunteering is fun because even though you don't get a prize for it, you still get rewarded with a clean and cool environment,” said thirteen year old Ashley. “Plus the smiles are priceless. I think other people should volunteer so they can experience all the things my family has.”
First and foremost we are proud parents of five wonderful children. My husband (Joseph Altieri) works at Enthone in West Haven and I work at Aetna in Middletown, which has offered their employees the benefits of Telework/WAH advantages. I have been working at home since June 07.
How long have you lived and/or worked in Greater New Haven?
My husband has lived in New Haven (East Rock neighborhood) all his life. I moved to New Haven in 1997. We currently reside and are homeowners in the Fair Haven area.
What specific United Way programs/committees have you been involved with? When?
We try and obtain volunteer projects once a month. During the Holidays of 2006, I reached out to the United Way. We've had the most overwhelming, heart-felt experience in cooking, serving and helping shelters in our community. In November, our family and friends cooked and served food at Life Haven on Ferry St. December was the best, we adopted a family for the holiday's from New Haven Home Care Recovery and cooked breakfast for The Emergency Men's Shelter (Immanuel Baptist Shelter) on Grand Ave, New Haven Homeless Resource Center on Ferry Street, and Taking Initiative Center on Whalley Avenue. It was truly a blessing. We are currently excited for Days of Caring 2007.
What made you want to be involved?
We have always been involved, once a year that is. We enjoy demonstrating to our children how to give back. Now, since they are older we have become more involved.
How did you become involved?
In 2006, my oldest son Anthony attended High School at Sound School, where part of his requirements were to obtain some community hours. He completed hours, but wanted to do more and that's when we became more involved. One day, I sent emails to family and friends to see who else would be interested. The responses were overwhelming, as many wanted to help volunteer their time or donate food items. I then realized I really needed to reach out to someone for more guidance and places to go. One organization that came to mind was The United Way of Greater New Haven. At first I was apprehensive, being that I was an individual and not part of any organization. I emailed and later spoke with Wendy Natter, what a wonderful lady. She was so helpful and answered so many questions. At first I'm sure she thought I was crazy; it was one Volunteer event after another. Since then it has been one blessing after another. In April of 2007, I had the pleasure of speaking with many business owners in the community and surrounding areas. Again I was apprehensive, but determined. With little knowledge of starting a fund-raiser, letters were prepared, flyer's were made, and telephone calls began. Going to supermarkets, bakeries, auto repair shops, even our very own New Haven County Cutters, you name it I was there. I was excited to discover that so many people are willing not just to volunteer but to sponsor events as well. With the assistance of Lisa Simeone and our sponsors, we kicked off our first fundraising event with great success. It was truly a lot of work, but so worth it! We continue to look forward to it each year.
How have you benefited from helping others?
Benefited...wow. We do it because it has become part of who we are. We enjoy volunteering, especially with family and friends. It’s been wonderful involving our children/teenagers!! What better way to show others it is easy to give back to the community- ask and you shall receive. Working together as a team, learning from one another and gaining new skills are just added bonuses. It builds self-esteem and confidence. You meet new people and help make a difference in someone's life. Whether you’re volunteering for a couple of hours, joining a walk-a-thon, or having a fundraiser the experience is unforgettable.
How do you think the community has benefited from United Way?
People benefit because they care and enjoy giving their time. They also focus on helping our children. Although not too many people have participate they have heard of them. We actually wish others could be more informed. It would be a wonderful idea to put up some billboards through the community.
In what other ways are you involved in the community (outside United Way)?
We are great supporters in the fight by participating in fund-raising efforts and activities for: American Diabetes Association and American Cancer Society, where we have involved schools in our community to be part of fundraising events all for a wonderful and important cause. I'm also a volunteer for School Volunteers for New Haven, Inc. I'm excited that my employer also encourages volunteering. I spend four hours a week in a 1st grade classroom at Clinton Avenue School.
Do you have a favorite story or experience you would like to share?
Aside from receiving emails from teenagers asking about our next volunteer project, I would have to say it was after our Diabetes walk a-thon in New Haven. We went up to Wallingford to enjoy a night at a Haunted Happening (it was in October). Nine of us went and still proudly sporting our Diabetes T-shirts. We entered McDonalds' to grab a bite and all we did was talk about the haunted house how fun it was, etc. Out of the blue the cashier gentleman said "Oh you guys did a Diabetes walk?" We said “Yes.” He looked at us and with a heartfelt sincere voice said "Thank you. I've been a diabetic since I was a teenager and it really means a lot to me. Thanks for walking and raising money for something that's important to me." It definitely caught us off guard. The feeling was indescribable.
We know individuals appreciate when people volunteer, but hearing it directly from someone while not at an event and out of the blue was something else.
Why should others become more involved in the community and with United Way?
Simply because we all need a little help from time to time. I must say the United Way has been a tremendous part of our life. Since my first email to Wendy Natter, our family has definitely changed. We have become stronger and more united within our community. It's about the little things in life, which make a big difference. The best part is involving our youth and that's one thing United Way and Us (The Altieri Family) have in common. Helping and involving our youth. They are our future.
Quotations from the children:
Ant (16yr): Volunteering is a good thing because it helps your environment and community, especially involving the youth. It teaches us about respect, maturity and helping others less fortunate or those they may be struggling at one point in their life.
Joseph (15yr): Volunteering is great because you can help other people if they need help. I like that you meet new people and have a good environment. I learned that one person can't do everything by themselves and team work is needed.
Ashley (13yr): Volunteering is fun because even though you don't get a prize for it, you still get rewarded with a clean and cool environment. Plus the smiles are priceless. I think other people should volunteer so they can experience all the things my family has.
Diamond (11yr): Its fun, you learn alot and its not only for adults. You can help people you never met or people you know. I participated in the walk for Asthma with my school and it was great cause I did it for everyone and my Mommy who has asthma.
Alex (11yr): I like Volunteering cause its fun and we can help others as a my family. Everyone should try it cause it makes you feel good.
Learn more about the Altieri family!
See the 2007 Days of Caring project photo gallery about the Altieri family
Watch a WTNH news clip about the Altieri family