A TV Host Returns the Favor for Westchester Veterans in Need

AdobeStock/Africa Studios

Dirty Jobs and Returning the Favor host Mike Rowe surprises My Brother Vinny, a Yorktown Heights nonprofit, with the gear it needs to help Hudson Valley-area veterans.

Best-known for crawling into dark, dank, tight spaces to spotlight the brave souls who do the tasks most others avoid, Dirty Jobs TV host Mike Rowe, now the host of Returning the Favor, a Facebook Watch series, made a surprise virtual “visit” to Westchester over the summer, as part of his latest venture to celebrate — and reward — those who give back to their communities.

Using the power of technology, Rowe “appeared” at the HQ of My Brother Vinny, a Yorktown Heights nonprofit that provides furniture, housewares, and clothing to formerly homeless veterans in the Hudson Valley and parts of NYC and New Jersey.

Founder Paula Miritello, a lifelong Yorktown resident, aims to restore hope and dignity to veterans by helping them settle into society. “Vets need more than just parades, hot dogs, and handshakes,” she says. “They have government vouchers for apartments but are sleeping on the floor, without basic necessities.”

- Advertisement -

Miritello formed the charity in memory of her youngest brother, Vincent, who had cerebral palsy and died 20 years ago this month, at age 20. “My brother couldn’t speak, but he spoke to my heart. He was my heart,” she says. “I wanted to do something to keep his memory alive. I wanted Vinny to be known.”

Since 2013, upwards of 1,100 veterans have been served by this entirely volunteer, self-funded organization, which receives no financial assistance from the government or the Department of Veterans Affairs. 

Rowe became aware of Miritello’s efforts and surprised her with just what she needed to fulfill her life’s work: a new cargo van, colorfully wrapped with her organization’s logo. “We were out there with just one van, delivering furniture everywhere, and it has over a hundred thousand miles on it,” Miritello says.

Miritello is thrilled to expand her operations and help more veterans set up home. “This is not my side gig; it’s my soul gig,” notes Miritello, who works full-time for the New York City Department of Environmental Protection.

Many of the volunteers who assist Miritello are veterans she’d previously helped. “When you help others, the world becomes your family,” she says, “and it feels like Vinny’s still present.” 

Our Best of Westchester Party is July 24!

Our Westchester Home Design Awards event is June 26!

Our Wine & Food Festival returns June 4-9!

Our Wunderkinds event takes place on May 23!

Our Best of Business Ballot is open through May 15!

Our Healthcare Heroes Awards event takes place on May 9!

Our Westchester Home Builders Awards take place on April 4!

Our Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Forum is March 14!

Unveiled: A Boutique Bridal Brunch is February 25!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.