Difference Makers: Nonprofit helps formerly homeless vets start over


NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — Every time Paula Miritello goes to work, it’s a moving experience for her crew and clients.

Since 2013, Miritello and her nonprofit group, My Brother Vinny, have been providing furniture, houseware, food and clothing to formerly homeless veterans free of charge throughout the Hudson Valley Region and New York City.

“In 2013 I met a homeless veteran who was starting over and he told me that he was getting a new apartment and he needed furniture. So I told him, 'I'm Italian, I can ask one of my cousins for furniture,'" Miritello said,

Miritello had been doing charity work since her brother Vinny died in 2000 of cerebral palsy, but supplying furniture and moving it into new apartments of vets just out of homelessness lit a light inside.

“It fills my soul. I always tell people that sometimes people say they have side gigs, to me this is my soul gig. When I wake up in the morning knowing that I can transform someone's life," said Miritello.

Homeless vets, like Cheryle LaForey, who recently got a house full of furniture at no cost, can get apartments from Veterans Affairs, but it’s not much of a home without somewhere to sit or lay down.

“It was so unexpected and I still can’t believe that there's an organization out there because honestly it's like people don't care about veterans and I just can't believe that I didn't even know they existed," LaForey said.

My Brother Vinny has helped support more than 1,200 veterans.

Many have stepped up to volunteer with the charity to either help move other veterans or assist in their other community service work.

“They gave me what I needed and they did it with such dignity. I didn’t have to feel like I was begging," said Wayne Reese, who was on the moving crew helping LaForey.

If you would like to help, My Brother Vinny takes donations of cash and furniture.