Ben Fatto, Mr. Regalbuti!

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Armand Regalbuti

Photo by Lauren Life

Armand Regalbuti

Once you have heard his remarkable story, Armand Regalbuti is a man you can never forget. Armand is part of an Italian-American family, holding dual citizenship and with fluency in both languages, and a veteran of more than 50 visits to Italy during his life. He loves the country’s heritage, its art, and all other aspects of its culture. In addition, he is an educator—not just because of the various positions as teacher and principal that he has held in Connecticut schools, but because education is in his very soul. Lucky were the Suffield students who had the advantage of learning from him in days long ago!

Last summer Armand heard of the hideous aftermath of the earthquakes suffered by many towns in Italy, and was struck by the devastation of a village called Amatrice, located in a mountainous area of the country, where 300 of the 2800 inhabitants were killed and where almost every building was destroyed. He determined to do whatever he could to come to the aid of the town and particularly its schoolchildren. Since all the buildings in the town had been condemned, temporary structures were erected to serve the needs of the people; among them was a school newly situated in large metal containers in the middle of a field—a school with only minimal supplies of the sort that ever American child takes for granted.

Armand set to work, calling on his network of friends, family, and former students; soon he had raised a sizeable sum of money to help the schools of Amatrice. In early November he set out on his one-man mission of mercy. He was able to make his way to the town, where, with the aid of sympathetic local police and despite ongoing tremors and dangers presented by the piles of rubble, he was able to promise the mayor of the town a generous gift, to be delivered by the government officials who would monitor the funds. Armand in his modest way reported that the mayor was pleased with the gift, and grateful to the American friends he didn’t know he had. And the story isn’t finished; Armand has crates of items donated by Staples, ready to be shipped to Amatrice when storage space becomes available.

We receive so much negative information about people and their motives, and sometimes we see for ourselves, even publicly, brutal behavior and unnecessary nastiness; what a joy to know that in this often cynical and self serving world of ours, one man’s decency and kindness and energy can have such a far-reaching effect. And what a beautiful standard Armand Regalbuti has set for those who know him and those who hear about him! There is no better way to teach than by example.

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