Joe Kimutis

The sign is back up and we are ready for the spaghetti dinner this Saturday!

It takes my breath away to see my son’s name in this way. This sign is so personal to me, that reading the words caught like a bone in my throat. Generally, things are very formal when it comes to what we are doing. “The Joseph Kimutis Memorial Fund” is formal to me. This sign was personal. This sign was not about raising money, this sign was about my boy, Joe Kimutis.

Joe spent 10 of his 19 years within the halls and wall of Our Lady of Grace school. It was there that Joe was taught to be kind, have manners, and to be respectful. It was there that he was given a belief in God, faith and heaven. It was his school where he felt safe and at home. They knew him there, and many still do.

When John and I started the Joseph Kimutis Memorial Fund it was our little way of making sense of the senseless. We were sad. Really sad. Our son was gone. What good could possibly come from such a loss? Ask any parent, “What is your greatest fear?” and without hesitation almost all of them will tell you, “Something happening to one my children.” It is such a fear that parents don’t even dare to say that their fear is that one of their children could die. No one wants to utter those words.

So when the unthinkable does happen, as a parent, all you want to do is find some way to keep the memory of your child alive. Our solution for that was starting the fund in Joe’s name. We had no idea how to do that, and with the advice of a friend, we contacted The Pittsburgh Foundation. The Pittsburgh Foundation has been good to us. We didn’t want to, nor did we know how to manage donations and funds. That was not our priority. Our priority was raising the money.

I never liked sales. I worked in sales for a while and had a hard time asking people to buy what I was selling. Each December I ask people to do just that. Since we have only one fundraiser a year, I ask, ask and ask again for people to donate to our cause of continuing to do good things in memory of Joe. Honestly, it hasn’t been hard.

One blessing that has come from this tragedy is a bright light now shines on the kindness and goodness of the people around us. Getting people to step up, volunteer, donate time, money and their talents has been easy. It is not a hard sell. So many people who step up to help us now did not even know Joe in this lifetime. They show up and help because in some way they have seen the benefit of the distribution of our grants, scholarships and donations.

When something as horrific as losing a child happens, as parents, we became very reflective as to what was Joe’s life. If you didn’t know my boy, this is one little story about him. If you ask the people who knew Joe, they would tell you that he was one of the kindest people they knew. He was always smiling. Joe was often giving his clothes to friends who had less than he did. He always put others needs in front of his own. My favorite example of this is, one summer night, when Joe was 16, he and some of his friends went to a Pirate game. I gave him $20 for food. When Joe returned home later that night he told me he was starving and asked me if I could make him something to eat. I asked him what he bought with the $20 and he said, “Nothing. I didn’t have it when I went in the stadium.” I immediately became frustrated with Joe, asking him where he thought he lost the money, and he said, “I didn’t lose the money, I gave it to a homeless man. He needed to eat more than I did.” His buddy, who was with him when he told me this laughed and said, “Yep, he’s a regular St. Joseph, always doing something nice.” Now, Joe was no saint, but he was a great guy.

I have so many more stories like that one. I was told a lot about my son from people I had never met, after he died. Nice, wonderful things. He silently did a lot of things for others, never asking for anything in return.

So that is who Joe was in this world. In two days we will gather together in the same school cafeteria where Joe ate his lunch for many years. We will celebrate who Joe was and remember that out of something terrible greatness can grow. Please come and have dinner with us, December 9th from 4:00-7:00.

If you cannot make it but would still like to make a difference, please consider making your tax-deductible donation to: The Joseph Kimutis Memorial Fund. This can be done by sending a check to: The Pittsburgh Foundation, 5 PPG Place #250, Pittsburgh, PA 15222. Also, donations can be made online through the following link:

https://community.pittsburghfoundation.org/kimutisspaghetti

Thank you, again, for helping us to continue to do things for good in memory of our son and brother, Joe. Without the kindness of people like you, this would not be a possibility.

 

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