Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

As we celebrate the 175th Anniversary of the Archdiocese, we look back… on July 16, 1978 when the first Mass was held at St. Monica Church, Northford.
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bikes 4568Dan Perrotto and his wife Angie with bicycles (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

NORTH HAVEN – Dan Perrotto has given away nearly 1,900 bikes to kids over the past 17 years. And every time he thinks about stopping, he changes his mind.

"My mother had a saying, ‘You have to give back. When you get, you give,’" he said. And those words have become the driving force that has guided him throughout his life.

"I’ve been blessed with a good family … good parents, a great wife, two daughters and four grandchildren," said the retired Yale University maintenance worker.

"This is something I always wanted to do," he said. "I always had dreams of helping kids, from supporting Toys for Tots to things I did with my own kids."

It all began when he decided to buy a bike for a neighborhood boy who lost his father at Christmas time.  After buying a bike to console the boy, his passion to do the same for others ignited.

After initially using his own money, he began to accept donations from family members, friends, neighbors, local organizations and any other source that he could tap or that offered to help.

"At first, I did it all alone," he said. "But then I began soliciting funds and turned it into a foundation."

In 1996, he founded Bikes for Babes, a nonprofit foundation through which he purchases new bikes and raises funds to buy bikes for children in need.

"Every year, it’s gotten bigger and bigger," he said, with a tone of disbelief. "My wife (Angie) was always by my side. And it became very successful.

"Some companies buy me bikes, or people give them to me," he said. "And my friends from junior high, high school, the Army … when they think of it, they give me money. It’s something."

He gives away anywhere from one to 30 tricycles, 12-inch bikes with training wheels, 16-inch bikes with training wheels, and 20-inch bikes as well as bike helmets to kids and organizations  that support children.

Recipients have included the the New Haven Boys and Girls Club, Ronald McDonald House, St. Francis Home for Children and the Farnam Neighborhood House, all in New Haven; Aces Temple Street School in North Haven; the Connecticut Department of Children and Families; Circle of Care Kids with Cancer; and several churches, schools and needy families in crisis in the New Haven area.

For his work, Mr. Perrotto was honored by the New Haven Boys and Girls Club Alumni Association. He was awarded the Unsung Hero Award by the Greater New Haven Community Foundation in 2006. In 2008, he was recognized by Gov. M. Jodi Rell with a proclamation for his foundation. In 2009, he was named "Citizen of the Year" by the Hamden/North Haven Elks. And in 2012, he was given the "Heroes Award" by the American Red Cross Connecticut Chapter for his impact on helping children in need – an award that was acknowledged by Gov. Dannel Malloy with a note of personal congratulations.

Last January, he was named a "Person of the Year" by the New Haven Register for his bicycle program.

In his spare time, Mr. Perrotto is involved in other ways in community and church activities. He chairs North Haven’s Inland Wetland Committee, is a member of the Montowese Fire Association and coaches the Max Sinoway Little League.

He is also a member of the St. Andrews Society in New Haven and the American Legion. And in 2003, his name was engraved on the Vietnam Memorial on the North Haven Town Green.

A member of St. Therese Parish, where he taught religious education for several years, he takes special pride in serving as an extraordinary minister of holy Communion for nearly 25 years – one of the longest serving members in the deanery.

His garage and the garage of one of his daughters are full of bikes. And despite an economy reluctant to improve, the checks for donations keep coming in.

For more information about Bikes for Babes or to make a donation, call Mr. Perrotto at 203-239-2143.

 

alertAt the Spring Assembly of the U.S. bishops, Cardinal Joseph Tobin suggested that a delegation ofbishops go to the border to see for themselves what was happening to newly arrived immigrants, families and children. On July 1 and 2, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, and five other bishops conducted a pastoral visit to the diocese of Brownsville, Texas. Stops included Mass at the Shrine of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle with the community, a visit to anHHS/OBR Shelter and Mass for the families there, a visit to the Customs and Border Patrol processing center in McAllen, TX, and a press conference at the end of their visit. Catholic News Service accompanied the bishops on their border trip. 

  1. Backgrounder and analysis of the bishops’ trip to the border: Cardinal DiNardo told CNS, “You cannot look at immigration as an abstraction when you meet” the people behind the issue.
  2. At final press conference, Cardinal Daniel Dinardo said the church was willing to be part of any conversation to find humane solutions because even a policy of detaining families together in facilities caused “concern.”
  3. Bishops serve soup to immigrant families at a center run by Catholic Charities and listen to their stories. Scranton Bishop Joseph Bambera said he found hope in hearing the people in the room talk about what’s ahead. They didn’t speak of making money but of finding safety for their children, he said, driven by “the most basic instinct to protect your family.”
  4. At an opening Mass he Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan del Valle-National Shrine near McAllen, Texas, Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville told Massgoers, “The bishops are visiting here so they can stop and look and talk to people and understand, especially the suffering of many who are amongst us,”

A delegation of U.S. bishops goes on a fact-finding mission at the U.S.-Mexican border to learn more about Central American immigration detention.

Following their visit to an immigrant detention center, U.S. bishops said they are even more determined to call on Congress for comprehensive immigration reform.