The loss of a partner may mean upheaval for not just one person but a whole community. And when Velvet Poveromo wrote a sign after her husband’s death, she was surprised by the reaction it elicited.
Sometimes an act of kindness goes a very long way; it may even leave a legacy. That’s something that Velvet Poveromo may have realized after she put out a sign following her husband’s death – although the widow was initially surprised to learn what people thought of her note.
Velvet and her husband Charlie had been married for almost four decades – an incredible achievement for a couple who had met and fallen in love in high school. Unfortunately, though, in March 2018 Charlie passed away from a heart attack. And the death of Velvet’s spouse was obviously a huge blow to her.
Charlie had been a much-loved barkeep at a local eatery called Grissini. As a matter of fact, the New Milford resident had worked there for nearly 20 years, and consequently he had become almost synonymous with the Englewood Cliffs establishment.
And it was at Grissini that Charlie suffered his heart attack; despite his ill health, the 57-year-old had stayed at work until everyone had been dealt with that night. The proprietor of the restaurant, Tony Del Gatto, was effusive in his praise of the longtime employee.
“[Charlie] was one of the finest gentlemen I had ever met,” Del Gatto said to local news website NorthJersey.com in March 2018. “Everybody felt like an individual to him. He spoke directly to people; his eyes never wandered. There could be 20 or 30 people at the bar… but when a person spoke to him, they were the most important person in the room.”
In fact, Charlie was so popular that specific clients would call ahead if they were in the area – just to find out if he was working that night. The bartender would also come in when he didn’t have to, and he would perform odd jobs around the place too. Charlie was dedicated to his job, then.
And it appeared to be a similar story when Charlie was at home with his wife. Velvet knew in her heart that her husband adored her, and she said that he would also show great kindness to people he didn’t even know. “My Charlie loved me,” she told TV station ABC11. “He loved other people.”
Furthermore, Charlie had taken to performing a public service, and it was this act that prompted Velvet to leave out a sign for passersby. In essence, it had all begun eight years previously. That year, while the area had been suffering in the grip of an intense heatwave, Velvet’s husband had reportedly performed an impromptu act of charity.
Velvet told ABC11, “One day, [Charlie] saw the garbage truck pull up. He was in the kitchen, and he saw the guy jump off to get our garbage, and he staggered. [The garbage man] was sweating and pale, and [Charlie] came running in the house and grabbed a big jug of water… grabbed some cups, came out and put them over here under the shade.”
From then on, Charlie had continued to provide refreshment for those in need by setting out a cooler containing cold beverages for all manner of public workers. Those who took grateful advantage included postmen and other municipal employees.
And it wasn’t until Charlie was gone that Velvet completely understood how much he had done for those around him. This included doing household chores as well as making their grandson breakfast and getting him ready for school. Then, of course, there was the cooler.
With this in mind, Velvet decided that it was important to honor her late husband by continuing to put out a cooler with drinks. So, she stocked the box with ice and water as the summer temperatures began to climb. But that wasn’t all: in addition, the widow attached a note to the cooler that explained her husband’s sad demise.
The message read, “In case you were unaware – my husband Charlie passed away suddenly at age 57 on March 10. I will do my best to continue to provide bottled water.” Velvet also included a picture of the note as part of a post on Facebook.
Then Velvet got to see exactly what kind of impact her note had made. On another hot day, a garbage truck was making the rounds of the local area; upon reaching the Poveromo home, however, the men on the vehicle didn’t just gather up the trash and go on their way.
You see, Velvet later recounted on Facebook that when the garbage men had come to the house, they had disembarked the truck and stood in a straight line to salute. They also approached Velvet to shake her hand, offered their condolences for the loss of Charlie and thanked her for her husband’s kindness before heading onwards.
Meanwhile, Velvet’s sister-in-law, Monica Pidhorecki, decided to copy the idea of providing a cooler herself. “It’s given us a reason to smile. And it’s such a great way to honor [Charlie] and keep his memory alive,” she revealed to ABC11.
But the idea didn’t stop there. More and more people shared Velvet’s Facebook post, and the trend of leaving a cooler filled with drinks began to spread. As a result, more and more pictures of so-called “Charlie Coolers” were posted online from at least 13 states.
And although Velvet hasn’t sought donations to keep the cooler stocked, she has nevertheless been very grateful for the money she has received as a result of the online interest. With the help of perfect strangers, then, she has been able to continue her husband’s kindness as a fitting tribute to him.
It must be known, though, that this isn’t the first time Charlie has been part of a national story. Back in January 2016 Charlie and other employees at Grissini had made the news over a lottery win mix-up. In essence, the group thought that they had won the $900 million jackpot.
Unfortunately, though, it emerged that the restaurant workers’ information was out of date, and the real winning numbers were different. “We were a mess for 20 minutes, and bam! It was over,” Charlie had commented at the time to The Record. “It was like getting punched in the stomach, but [the feeling] goes away real fast.”