Alphonso and Eulalia Vitello Family Fund
Est. 2010 as a donor advised fund by the Vitello family.
If there were awards for citizens who embody the true spirit of their community, then Alphonso and Eulalia Vitello would certainly be in the running for the City of Derby's prize. These two first generation Italian-Americans were lifelong Derby residents and each devoted their lives to the City's youth through education, coaching, and athletics.
Alphonso and Eulalia (known to all as "Al" and "Yolie") knew each other since grammar school - she was a cheerleader at St. Mary's and he was a basketball player for Irving. In the beginning, Yolie wasn't terribly interested in Al, since he was from the rival school. But as time went on and they got to know each other, this mattered less and less, and the rest, as they say, is history. In 1946 they were married.
Al enjoyed an award-winning athletic career at Derby High School, where he excelled in baseball, basketball, football, and track, particularly as quarterback of Derby's first State Football Championship team and Most Valuable Athlete in 1941. He went on to play football at (and graduate from) Providence College, received a Master's degree from Columbia, a 6th year certificate from the University of Bridgeport, served in the Navy, and played semi-pro football.
For many years, Al and Yolie worked with Derby students. He was a teacher, coach, and athletic director at Derby High School for over 40 years, and completed his tenure as chair of the social studies department. During his coaching career, he took the basketball team to the state finals, and led his baseball team to the first and only Housatonic League championship in Derby history.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Vitello spent 25+ years at St. Mary's School and Parish in a variety of positions. However, it was her service as a beloved substitute teacher that was most fondly recalled by VCF Board member and former St. Mary's student David Grant. "We were thrilled when we were told that Mrs. Vitello was coming into our class. She was a sweet, kind and nice person, and it was a pleasure to have her as a teacher, even if it was for just one day at a time."
When Mr. Vitello passed away in 2010, the family turned to VCF to honor him and his commitment to Derby's young people. "Our dad taught former VCF President Jamie Cohen at Derby High School," said John Vitello, one of the family's three sons. "He was also my father's basketball statistician and long time family friend - so when it came time to pay tribute to our Dad's memory, we sat down and talked with Jamie and decided to create the Alphonso and Eulalia Vitello Family Fund at VCF."
The goal of the Fund is to help as many Derby youth and residents as possible. The family has created flexible guidelines for giving, in order to be able to direct grants and scholarships where they are needed most.
"It's all about trying to do what we can for the youth of Derby just as our mother and father did all of these years," said John Vitello. "My Dad truly came full circle here - in his own youth he achieved accolades for the City though his athletics, then came back to Derby and, with my Mom, raised my brothers Al, Paul, and me, and brought even more honor to our City through all his great community work. Creating this Fund is the best way we know to have this wonderful family legacy continue in perpetuity."
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