The Household CEO - Living for Giving
Published 2:14 pm, Friday, December 24, 2010
When I think of the power of giving, I get an indescribable emotion. It's a feeling that isn't easy to articulate. What is even more amazing is the "a-ha" moment when I `coincidentally' see the effect of giving come full circle back to me. Some call it karma; others say it's the power of the Golden Rule. I know it as the spirit of giving, and it is demonstrated very clearly to me in my personal experiences and through those of others which I have been fortunate to observe. I have seen the exponential value of giving and highly recommend it to others as a powerful experiment. If you find yourself in need of something -- more love, more money, more friendship, or more respect -- try giving it away to others more often and see what happens. A coincidence?! Doubtful.
There is a family who comes to mind when I think about this power -- particularly as they are so humble and don't seek recognition for their charitable acts. I have been spending time with the Aitoro family of Norwalk, Connecticut recently. Originally as a customer in need of appliances and electronics, and currently on some business projects. At a recent special event held at the Aitoro showroom to benefit Habitat for Humanity, I found myself welling up with tears as I stood listening to a single mother speak in front of a large crowd. She was describing the power of her experiences with becoming a Habitat homeowner. This grateful woman spoke of the opportunity that was given to her, the power of example it has given to her children, the generosity of Habitat for Humanity, their volunteers and donors, especially including the Aitoro family.
That was such a moving moment that I decided to explore this loving and highly charitable family in greater depth. As it turns out (after having to drag it out of them), the Aitoro family has been giving back to the community for 62 years! There are dozens of charitable causes, mainly related to community and family enrichment, which they have supported. So off I dashed to hear the whole story...
It all started when Anthony Aitoro, Sr. decided to allow a Norwalk family who needed a washing machine but couldn't afford one, to buy over time. "He wanted to help this family and offered them the appliance on a payment schedule, which no one ever did back then," said his son Vincent who, together with his father and brother Rudy, founded the store in 1948 on Ely Avenue in Norwalk. "The next thing you know, we were helping many families who rarely let us down in repayment." Vincent's son `Tony A,' as he is known and loved, recalls, "Our family would sell peanuts to raise money for the Kiwanis Club and it was a big family affair. We never thought about it, we just did it."
For the past six decades, one can see the power of giving in the lives of this large family and the surrounding community. Although two of the founders, Anthony and Rudy, have passed away, there are still three generations of Aitoro's actively involved in the store. Tony Aitoro is the Chief of Operations and the face most commonly associated with the showroom these days. At 15, Tony started working at the store for $1.00 per hour -- and has the time card saved to prove it- something he is very proud of. Together with his brother Vinny and cousin David they make up the executive team that keeps the business running. Vinny's son Eric comprises the fourth generation helping in the family-owned business -- all committed to community, family, and service.
At any given moment, you can walk into the store and see one of the Aitoros ready to serve, help, or lend a hand. The family has been engrained in the community for so long that when I spoke to some of their clients, they said that it wouldn't occur to them to buy an appliance anywhere else -- that their parents and parent's parents had been doing so forever. From day one, the Aitoro family lived to give -- they give to each other, give to the community, give to their employees, friends, and family causes. A short list of some of these charities includes the American Cancer Society, the Courage to Speak Foundation, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance, Positive Directions, The Norwalk Education Foundation and The ALS Association.
As I try to tell my children each day, it isn't a coincidence when good things come your way. It's no surprise that good things come to good people. If we were all a little more grateful, offered ourselves to be of service to others, and lived to give -- like the Aitoros -- the world would be a happier place.
Devon Fleming is CEO and Founder of Devon Fleming LLC, a multimedia publishing firm that produces, disseminates and delivers actionable solutions and resources for women. A former Wall Streeter, Fleming is best known as a lifestyle and business leader in the New York/lower Connecticut region whose brand publishes articles in print, tv/videocasts, radio segments and endorsements, digital and branded content. For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.