In College Park, the neighborhood that escapes the busy streets of Orlando, the small-town feel is impossible to miss. Even in a pandemic, the sense of community hasn’t changed.
Like most business owners, Jill and Giovanni Vianello, owners of Let Us Frame It on Edgewater Drive, were anxious when the lockdown first happened and wondered how they would adapt their business. But they soon found that their community had their back.
“The support we had was emotional,” said Jill. “We received calls and texts from clients. And as soon as this lifted, people had things to frame.” On the day they opened back up, one customer brought in 13 posters to be framed.
In early April, a unique story began to unfold that emphasized the power of community, and the Vianellos played a part in the story.
In 2019, the new owners of College Park Café purchased the already established business that serves Cuban cuisine in the neighborhood. “It really feels like a small town,” said Julio Pelegrino, owner of the Café.
In the beginning of COVID-19, on April 5, College Park resident Marty Stonerock snapped a photo from her balcony of Pelegrino’s father sitting outside the Café and posted it to Facebook.
“When COVID first hit, I watched the family help customers with a few pick-up orders. My heart felt so badly they were struggling,” Stonerock said. She decided to make the post public, and it took off, receiving over 1,200 shares.
“When I saw all the shares on the post, I thought, ‘Wow, the people here really do care,’” said Pelegrino. The week the photo was posted, Pelegrino said the Café sold around 30 Cuban sandwiches alone each day. They even had to purchase a second sandwich press to keep up with the orders.
Jill Vianello got wind of the story and then printed and framed the post for the Pelegrino family. “I framed it for them as a reminder to never give up hope,” said Vianello.
“It just shows how connected everyone is,” Pelegrino said.
The title of College Park resident means something. It means you’re in a tight-knit community, and you look out for your neighbor. Hold tight to that, College Park, and may it never change.