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On Thanksgiving Day about 230 people in East Haven will receive a full-course turkey dinner. Rotarian Beth Capotorto is one of the volunteers helping ensure a holiday meal is available for all in need. (Photo courtesy of Beth Capotorto )
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On Thanksgiving Day, about 230 people in need of assistance will have a full-course turkey dinner provided to them, available for pick-up at the East Haven Senior Center or delivered to their home.
A member of the town’s Rotary Club for the past three years, Beth Capotorto is helping to make it happen.
“The whole club is really involved,” says Beth. “I do the ordering, making sure that on Thanksgiving Day, we have the food we need. It’s a big process to get the food organized and the people organized.”
Beth credits her counterpart, Rotarian Ashley Lesco, with taking all of the reservations for the Rotary’s biggest community service project of the year.
“The bulk of my work is done on Thanksgiving Day,” says Beth.
Beth works with Boston Market to order, collect, and create an “assembly line for meals,” she says.
“Boston Market deserves a lot of credit,” adds Beth. “They get up at 4 a.m. to make the food. They’re incredible.”
All of the meal deliveries will commence at 10:30 a.m. or must be picked up from the Senior Center no later than 11:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day.
“If people are unable to pick them up, we deliver it,” says Beth. “It’s a ready-to-go meal with turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, gravy, and dessert. It’s ready to go. All you need to do is heat it and eat it.”
Beth says that the work of the Rotary Club with this project has been a considerable help to the greater East Haven community. Now in its 13th year, Rotarians have continued to build on the program’s success, providing an increased number of meals annually.
Beth thinks that she is lucky to be involved.
“I’ve always liked volunteering, especially when my kids were young,” she says. “As they got older, I had more free time. A lot of the people that I know are on Rotary. It’s a great organization.”
The club seeks financial support throughout the year to provide these turkey dinners to those in need and to contribute to other worthwhile causes, she says.
Some of these fundraisers, of which Beth is sometimes a part, include a bucket collection outside Dunkin’ Donuts, the Pasquale “Pat” Romano Memorial Golf Tournament, and the Anginette cookie bake off among others.
Beth’s work as a Rotarian is just one of her volunteer activities. She helps teach religious classes at her church and volunteers with the food pantry in East Haven, delivering backpacks of food to all schools throughout the district so that kids in need can have food over the weekend.
She also makes an effort to support the community through the pizza business that she operates with her husband, Ralph.
“We’ve done a number of fundraisers at the pizza place for teams and organizations [such as] band, boys’ soccer. Youth cheer did a ‘peel a deal’ card and they are doing well with it,” she says. “I’m happy to help the community in that way.”
The family-run pizza business started their fundraisers in 2013, helping to raise approximately $7,000 for a variety of organizations including the East Haven High School sports teams and organizations, according to the family’s pizza restaurant web site.
Beth credits the generosity of her husband and his business savvy for having 16 successful years in the pizza making business.
“He knows what he is doing,” says Beth.
While Ralph may handle most of the business’ affairs, Beth is more involved with the human resources aspect of the restaurant, “dealing with employees, handling scheduling,” she says.
Prior to her work as a small business owner, Beth worked as a recruiting coordinator in a law firm for 11 years.
In this position, she recruited recent law school graduates, scheduled hiring interviews, conducted training for new employees and helped in the employee review process.
Beth says that these professional experiences will help her represent district one as town council woman, a spot that she earned in this November’s recent election.
“Sometimes you have to make hard decisions,” she says of her family-run business. “You have to collaborate with others and sometimes agree to disagree. You have to compromise so that everybody can win.”
Beth will be sworn into her position, along with two other counterparts, in a town ceremony on Nov. 16.
“District one has three great ladies,” says Beth. “I look forward to working with them.”
A resident of district one since 1999, Beth loves where she lives.
“It’s a great location because you are near everything,” she says. “We have the beautiful fountain that the rotary installed at the end of our street. It’s a very walkable, nice area.”
As district one’s town council woman, Beth is interested in revving the economic engine of the town by helping to attract new businesses to town, which in turn, would help create jobs, she says.
“In my opinion, I would love to see a new façade and a few more businesses,” she says. “There are empty stores on Main Street.”
She would also like to make overall beautification efforts a priority.
“We really need to reinvest in the beautification of Main Street,” she says. “It should be a destination.”
Throughout the campaign, she “heard a lot of people having problems with maintenance of the streets, especially snowplowing. We need to properly treat and maintain the roadways, especially in the winter months. For the safety of the community, it’s important to work on these issues as well.”
A first-time office holder, Beth intends to “work very hard for the residents of East Haven.”
If interested in participating in the Rotary’s distribution of Thanksgiving meals, contact Ashley Lesco at 203-906-6124 or by email at email@example.com by Nov. 21.
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