Fund seeks to help man get shine back

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NAUGATUCK — A local businessman is getting help from people he made shine.

For the past 20 years, Naugatuck resident Alfredo D’Oliveria has shined shoes across Connecticut.

“Alfredo came here every Wednesday to shine people’s shoes,” said Meghan Cunningham, a sales associate at Carousel Industries Inc. in Windsor. “Everyone loves him when he comes in. He always comes in with a big smile and greets everyone.”

Cunningham said recently there was a period of a few weeks when D’Oliveria didn’t come in and the employees of the company began to worry.

When he finally did come back in he revealed that he had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which is also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

According to the National Institute of Health, ALS is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurological disease that attacks the nerve cells responsible for controlling voluntary muscles.

Cunningham said when the office found out about D’Oliveria’s disease, everyone wanted to do something to help.

“We’re not going to make him better but we wanted to do something,” Cunningham said. “With the decline in his health he is unable to come in as much and can’t shine as many shoes. There is a direct loss of income.”

Cunningham said her company decided to set up a GoFundMe page to help D’Oliveria. The page can be found online at www.gofundme.com/shine4alfredo.

D’Oliveria immigrated to America from Rio De Janiero, Brazil, Cunningham said.

D’Oliveria and his wife, Dayse, have two children who attend Naugatuck High School and are both in the top 5 percent of their class, according to the GoFundMe page. His daughter, Danielle, 17, a senior, participates in jazz band, choir, theatre, and tutors in her free time. She was recently accepted into Williams College where she will attend next fall. His son, Jonathon, 16, a junior, is also a member of the jazz band as percussion major and the choir.

D’Oliveria could not be reached for comment.

Cunningham said, although she has not known D’Oliveria for very long, she has seen the positive impact he has on people.

“To many of us he is just a great, happy guy who brought in this genuine energy into the office,” Cunningham said. “We have rows of cubes and he would come through and greet people and bring such cheer to the office.”