The following is the first in a series of profiles on Champions for Children, featuring individuals in our area who have made lasting impact on the wellbeing of children.
“A lot of folks reading this are too young to know what I’m referring to, but my parents were a lot like June and Ward Cleaver from the Leave it to Beaver TV show in the 1950s and 60s. [My parents] were wise, loving, and taught me so many things through life. To be a good citizen, be as good a person as you can be, be kind to everyone. I was fortunate to always have that kind of support system,” recalls Celeste Calvitto.
Her upbringing is not lost on her. She recognizes the blessing of a childhood not everyone has the opportunity to live. Never having to worry about going to bed hungry, always having clothes to wear, and seldom missing out on a hug and kiss goodnight. Calvitto says with a pause, “It’s heartbreaking. I wish every child could have as good a life growing up.”
Calvitto’s 44 years as a newspaper reporter and newsroom executive allowed her to live all over the country before returning to the Midwest in 2009 to buy the Bright Beacon newspaper. In 2017, she decided to “put it all in the rearview mirror” and go a different direction with her time and energy. “Working toward retirement,” as she calls it, Calvitto started a new business, CalComm Indiana LLC. She puts her talents to work in the nonprofit space, assisting with press releases and fundraising, and also as a political consultant.
“I first heard about CACSEI from the newspaper and I liked what they were doing,” she said. Late one year, CACSEI’s annual donation request to supporters shared the work that had been done. “I saw that and said, that’s something I want to help with.” Calvitto recognizes she’s not the typical supporter. She has no personal experience to draw from to relate to the clients of CACSEI, along with being an only child with no children of her own. Nevertheless, she felt connected to the work being done.
Calvitto was drawn to the mission of CACSEI and the front line workers making a difference in the lives of children in southeast Indiana. She makes the distinction: “All the financial support in the world doesn’t matter if you don’t have the right people doing the heavy lifting and carrying out the mission. The young people who come into contact with CACSEI workers are fortunate.”
With a servant’s heart and philanthropic spirit, Calvitto has become one of CACSEI’s largest individual contributors, along with supporting other causes in the area such as the Ivy Tech Foundation and the Highpoint Health Foundation Board, which is raising funds for a cancer center. Calvitto describes the staff of CACSEI as “angels on Earth” as they make an impact on the community’s youth.
Earlier this year, Calvitto was diagnosed with cancer. “When I got involved with Cancer Center fundraising last year, I didn’t think I’d become a customer. It changes your outlook on things.” Even in the midst of her own storm, Calvitto doesn’t forget about the children, saying, “I want to continue helping as long as I’m able. I’m just one of the many people who help support this community and I’m just glad to be a part of it.”
One of the things Calvitto continues to be impressed by is the community at large and the overwhelming capacity to give. “I’m proud to be one of many, many supporters of the CAC,” she says. “I don’t think this community is going to have to worry about support for causes, it’s amazing how many people get involved. I’m just glad I can join in.”