North Naples Neighbors Magazine
With the coming of each new year, and the close of what was hopefully indulgent holidays, comes a flurry of new resolutions. There is a general excitement that accompanies the hopes of bettering ourselves and a fresh start. How often, however, do these fade all too quickly? The Saputo family, hailing from Saint Croix in Pelican Marsh, have done the hard work to make their dreams a reality and can perhaps stand as an inspiration for those wanting to take the plunge and set out anew.
Vincent (Vinny) and Kim Saputo are recent residents to the North Naples neighborhood. They each grew up in New Jersey and lived there until March of 2018. Growing up, Vinny loved soccer and played the saxophone while Kim was a gymnast, dancer, and cheerleader. Vinny and Kim met in 2002 at their local Shop-Rite (a regional grocery store) and have been doing life together ever since. They both set their eyes and hearts on Naples in 2003 when the couple began vacationing here, but it would be years before they took their first bold step into their dream for a better life.
After years of vacationing in Naples, Vinny and Kim decided to make it the location for their destination wedding. “We fell in love with Naples immediately, and we knew when we got engaged that there was only one place we wanted to get married,” Kim reminisces. “We wanted to show our family and friends why we loved it here so much, so in May of 2009 we got married at the Naples Beach Hotel. We definitely won everyone over and they are now slowly making the move down here as well,” Kim laughs.
Although Naples had been a love of Vinny and Kim’s, it took another nine years before the couple would crystalize their dream of moving down here and take the first steps towards making it a reality. Afterall, the two were very firmly established in New Jersey. “I had been a hairstylist for 15 years and Vinny a police officer for 10. We knew that by leaving our jobs behind and moving here we would be starting our careers completely over, but that was a risk we were willing to take,” Kim shares. This risk was easier to take with the correct motivation, which came in the form of two beautiful daughters. After Gianna (7) and Mia (4) were welcomed into the family, Vinny and Kim felt they were at a crossroads and chose the path they believed would lead to the best future for their whole family. “We decided in March of 2018 that we wanted a better life for our girls and ourselves,” says Vinny. “Within the span of a month I left my job as a police officer and moved down to start a life for us. Kim and the girls followed shortly after.”
Kim and Vinny have found Southwest Florida to be a welcoming place for newcomers. Since their move, Kim has been working at the salon Simple Beauty Studio and Medical Spa as their cutting specialist. “The owner Kiley and all the girls have been so great to work with and have helped me with my transition of starting over,” Kim says. In addition to an ideal work opportunity, Kim has also been offered the chance to step back into a previous passion of hers. She had previously taught dancers hip-hop but had to stop when she was 27. “I just took on a new adventure as a fitness instructor at TriTone Triple Barre,” she says. “I missed teaching dance and Michelle, the owner, gave me an amazing opportunity to become part of her growing team.”
Since their move south, Vinny has not lost a moment in using his skills and expertise to establish his own company, Naples Premier Home Watch, LLC. “I felt there was a need for a reputable home watch service mainly due to the large portion of seasonal residents,” Vinny explains. “I wanted to bring my life experiences as a first responder, along with previous jobs in building trades, property management, and driving exotic cars, all together to form my business.” Just as Kim felt welcomed, Vinny, too, feels that Naples has been a very open and accessible place for entrepreneurs. The stream-lined process for starting and maintaining a small business and the diversity of the Naples area have both contributed to Vinny’s success. “The most important thing I’ve learned since starting this business is that 50 percent of home insurance policies have some type of wording stating that any damage not reported within 14 days may forfeit the right to file a claim and that the claim may be denied,” Vinny states, “which makes the need for a professional home watch service crucial.”
Kim and Vinny’s new careers have flourished in their new hometown, but this move wasn’t made merely for economic purposes. The two uprooted and risked the comfort of the known for the unknown in an effort to obtain a better, happier life. A better future for their girls and a more meaningful family life were even more enticing than financial freedom. When it came to picking a spot in Naples, they knew North Naples was a must for the education it offers. Currently, Gianna attends Pelican Marsh Elementary and Mia attends Naples Park Elementary. “We knew we wanted to live in North Naples for the schools since our youngest (Mia) is special needs and the schools have everything she needs to get the best education,” Kim explains. Even their hopes for Mia’s education, though, have been surpassed. “The school district has helped her so much with her diagnosis,” Kim shares. “Her teachers and speech therapists always stay positive in helping her reach their goals. They do everything they can to help. They really care about her; they want her to succeed and it shows. From the front office to the lunch ladies, they all know Mia and love her so much. Knowing that makes all the difference.”
Since turning their vacation spot into a place they call home, the family’s downtime looks very different from a year ago. “Our hobbies as a family have changed a lot since moving to Florida. We now enjoy swimming, going for walks, going to the beach, and biking all year-round. Our favorite thing by far is our nightly dance parties in our family room. I hope the girls never get too old for that,” Kim adds. The Saputo’s attend Grow Church where they have found a wonderful community and made new friends.
In every way the Saputos have found that all the risks and difficulties associated with starting life over, and beginning new, have been worth all the trouble. “Through it all, we try to keep the perspective that everything happens for a reason,” Vinny says. “Through all the difficult and bad things that have happened, the outcome has always been much more rewarding.”