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It’s been just over a year since my cousin, Peter Caserta, passed away due to COVID-19. As soon as I heard the news, I posted a video about it here: https://youtu.be/zlwzbVbNWcg

Peter was a renowned chef and business owner in Richmond, Virginia. Having owned the best Italian restaurant in Richmond, Pasta Luna, he shifted to owning and operating Stuzzi, a Neapolitan pizzeria. He often shared stories of our family’s history and how we arrived in this country from Italy. His stories were vivacious, like Peter. And we collaborated on a manuscript about the history.

Well, COVID robbed us of time and I may never be able to completely retell the story.

Perhaps fate that roughly one month before Peter’s passing, I started a nonprofit project, Unity Bands, to support COVID-19 response and research efforts; partly because I felt the calling to do more during the pandemic. I’m glad I launched the project when I did because doing the grunt work for a startup nonprofit gave me an outlet to process the loss of Peter.

Thank you, COVID Survivors for Change, for giving the community at large the platform to share the stories of those who survived this terrible disease and those we lost along the way.

-John Schirrippa (Maryland)