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People On The Move - Yvette Bonfiglio
05/03/2012 - By Paul Williams
Waking Up With A Mission
Yvette Bonfiglio of Monmouth Beach woke up one morning more than a year ago with a mission: to help The Ashley Lauren Foundation, which since 2005 has provided financial assistance, emotional support, and more to families whose children have been stricken with cancer. The charitable, nonprofit organization based in Colts Neck was founded by local resident, Monica Vermeulen, and named for her daughter, Ashley Lauren, who successfully overcame kidney cancer when she was just 3.
It was her husband and business partner, Tom Bonfiglio, owner of Tommy's Coal Fired Pizza, who first introduced Yvette to Monica. Yvette became enchanted with the foundation's service to the community, and has since become a major contributor to it herself. "What Monica does for these kids is beautiful and amazing. After meeting her I just woke up one day and decided I wanted to be a part of it," Yvette says. "These children and their families are suffering, and I'd like to do what I can to make them smile and feel better, even if it's for just a little while."
Yvette keeps a busy schedule between the three Tommy's Coal Fired Pizza locations. But that doesn't deter her from visiting the sick children or lending a helping hand to their families a few days every week. In fact, she recently found a way to assist them during work when she started "Tommy's Kid of the Month," a joint charity with Ashley Lauren, to benefit the child's family that Monica provides each month. The program has been more successful than Yvette could have hoped for thus far. She keeps a donation box in each restaurant with a picture of the child, indicating that other businesses in the area have inquired about ways they can help out as well. "I just wanted to find a way to help these children, and the idea for the kid of the month just came to me. I'd have to say that God is steering this boat in the direction it's going in. I don't know where all these ideas have come from, and I'm not out there networking a lot," she says.
While Yvette may not be actively seeking more endorsements or donations for her noble cause, she constantly offers her own kindness and ingenuity to the families of the suffering children. She brings some of the children into Tommy's every week and lets them help their chef make pizzas during early business hours, and routinely visits them at Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, entertaining the children there with toys and games, providing them some much needed happiness during their difficult treatments.
Yvette also brings her new dog, Bruno, along with her. "He looks like Marmaduke, and the children just adore him. Once they see him, their faces just light up," she says of Bruno. She is also training him to become a medical dog for the hospital. "I try to keep in touch with all of the kids I see here. Sometimes we'll text at 3 a.m. I admire each one of them. These kids are some of the strongest people I've ever met."
Yvette, whose empathetic nature has her giving blood to the Red Cross every three months for the past several years, and Monica's generous charity have been a great tandem so far. They continue to dream about growing The Ashley Lauren Foundation, and expanding its reach in the future. "Our goal is to one day have a farm where we can house the children and their families for a little while. Maybe somewhere in Monmouth County we can make a place where they can see some animals and just escape for a few days when they are able to. We can't make the kids better, but we can make them smile. Hopefully one day we can provide all that for them," she says.
To learn more about, or make a donation to The Ashley Lauren Foundation, visit their website, www.ashleylaurenfoundation.org.
To learn more about "Tommy's Kid of the Month," visit Tommy's Coal Fired Pizza's website, www.newjerseycoalfiredpizza. com, and click on the Charity Connection tab.
Tommy's Coal Fired Pizza
People who are not empathetic towards others
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My mother, Rob Thomas, Andrea Bocelli
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