Featured Fund: The Peter Vartelas Invest in Youth Fund
The Peter Vartelas Invest in Youth Fund for the Valley YMCA is just one example of how a family that wasn’t born in the area grew to love and embrace the Valley with its long-standing family tradition of giving.
Peter grew up as one of 12 children, born to Greek immigrants. As a boy, he discovered that sports were a way for him to become a part of the local community and, as such, especially cherished his time at the Valley YMCA.
His nephew, Greg Stamos, remembered how “Uncle Peter” would talk about his many experiences at the YMCA and, in particular, recalled a conversation between Michael Cook, head of programming at the Y, and his uncle.
“When Michael mentioned that some children didn’t have money for memberships, Uncle Peter decided it was his time to give back. He became focused on creating a fund to help those kids. Peter started fundraising, advocating for the Y, and reminding others of how they received some form of help from the community. He used all of his contacts and skills as a salesman, even asking me to make a sizeable contribution! I was just starting out as an attorney and could only give half of what I was asked. But Uncle Peter matched my gift. That’s just the kind of guy he was.”
While the YMCA managed the fund, Peter enjoyed great pride in the fact that children could access sports and social opportunities that they would otherwise never be able to access.
“He loved nothing more than to bump into someone from the Y and hear anecdotes about how the kids were doing,” said Greg.
Soon, Greg became involved with the Valley Community Foundation. “I was President of the Board and wanted to connect Uncle Peter’s work with VCF. It ended up being a perfect fit.”
The YMCA embraced the idea, as did the family. The Vartelas and Stamos families would later go on to establish several more funds at VCF over time. Greg explained that his family, even after Peter’s passing in 2004, remains very close and has a place for the Valley, especially Ansonia, in their hearts.
He added, “Uncle Peter didn’t go to college and he earned every penny through honest labor. Nothing was handed to him but he felt that giving back was important and that tradition goes way back in our family.”
Over the years Greg has performed pro bono legal work for the YMCA. “Whenever I was asked why I wouldn’t charge, I’d tell them that if Uncle Peter ever found out I’d done that, he would have found a way send me message from heaven. Maybe even a lightning bolt!”