Lena learned how to sew from her mother in their native Bitondo, a borough of Bari, near the coast of the Adriatic Sea in Italy.
“My mom put a needle and thread in my hand when I was about five years old. Later she sent my sister and me to learn at a shop. I was 13 and my sister was 16 when we came to this country in 1958. We had one of those foot pedal machines in Italy. Over here, everything was power machines, but we were young enough to pick it up right away.”
Those early lessons and lots of hard work led Lena to the American dream of owning her own business, an alterations and dry cleaning business on Seminole Boulevard. She used to do alterations for Mr. DeLoach before closing down her shop and working out of her home. She talks about retirement but says, “I’m 74 and I like to keep my mind busy, and I just love to see people happy.”
To keep herself busy, this hometown hero has shared her sewing skills by making over 2,000 free masks, both adult and children sized, for local nursing homes, a children’s rehabilitation hospital for orphans, and you guessed it, our law firm.
Lena is an estate planning client and said in her endearing accent,
“Rep took care of me and he was so sweet because I don’t understand a lot of legal stuff, you know?”She went on to say, “and thank all of you for all the help that you have given me. You did a couple of closings for my houses. You did my business, you did everything. So I’ve been with you a long time. You are the only law firm I know around here because you were right around the corner from me. You always treated me good, so I’m very happy to have you in my life, to have all of you.”
“When I started to do masks, it was just such a great feeling.” exclaimed Lena. “I always said, I love America, just love. People that are born in this country, they don’t know what kind of country they have. They don’t know. I really never gave back, and I feel that by doing this, I had a chance to give back to America, the country I love.”
During these trying times, so many caring people are quietly doing good to help fill a need. Another one of Rep’s estate planning clients, Susan, also made masks for the staff without being asked. She just showed up with them.
Rep stated, “Not only do we deeply care about our clients and their well-being, but we are finding out that our clients truly care about us too and it’s a wonderful feeling. Our clients are like family."