When Monica Lewis, 38, broke her foot late last month, it was not just the pain that hurt but also the loss of income. Unable to work as a waitress at Tommy’s Pizza Too on Oaklawn Avenue, or another part-time job, she feared how her family would make ends meet. Between her three jobs, Lewis says she works between 70 and 80 hours per week.
Tommy and Kim Sacco, owners of Tommy’s Pizza Too, sprang into action, however, ensuring they didn’t lose one of their best employees. The pair organized a benefit to help supplement Lewis’ income. Last Monday’s macaroni and meatball event raised roughly $3,000 to help Lewis out financially as she continues to heal physically. The Saccos and their staff donned shirts that said, “Monica’s Army” in support of their co-worker, and donated their time and all tips.
“She is one-of-a-kind, a hard worker, big heart, dedicated to family, friends and work,” said Tommy. “She always has a smile on her face.”
Lewis injured her foot during a vacation in Hyannis on Cape Cod with her husband, Mike, who also works two jobs. They first met at the Tommy’s Pizza on Chalkstone Avenue in Providence, where Mike proposed to Monica. The couple has an 8-year-old son, Anthony, and Monica has two children from a previous marriage, 16-year-old John Trivissono and 20-year-old Laurie-Ann Trivisonno.
Fortunately, Lewis’ doctor told her she could return to her day job, but working as a waitress at Tommy’s and Denny’s was out of the question for six weeks. She is hoping to return to the restaurants in another three to four weeks.
For 19 years, Lewis has been a valued member of the Tommy’s Pizza Too staff. She began working there when she was a student at Rhode Island College. Her three jobs make for long weekends, but in this economy, Lewis says it’s a necessity.
“You do what you have to do, and I have to tell you, I am just as smiley at 2 a.m. in the morning at Denny’s as I am at 9 p.m. at Tommy’s,” she said.
She began to work at Denny’s in order to pay for daycare so she could keep working.
Tommy Sacco brought Lewis to the Cranston location when they opened their doors in 2009. Sacco was pleased with the outpouring of support from the community and customers at last week’s benefit.
“More than 18 different businesses donated for the raffle, and people even just stopped by and dropped off checks to benefit Monica and her family,” said Sacco. “You could feel the love in the restaurant all evening.”
It was an emotional evening for Lewis.
“Tommy called me and told me because he wanted me to come, but he knew that I would bawl my eyes out, which I did do,” she said. “I have worked with him long enough that we know how we both are and how we will react to things. As soon as he told me, I walked upstairs and told my husband; I was speechless.”
“All day Monday, I was a nervous wreck. I love being a waitress, but I am not comfortable being the center of attention,” she added.
The day after the event, Lewis still felt overwhelmed from the kindness of the Saccos, her customers, family and friends.
“I have so many emotions that I could cry right now,” she said. “That many people came out for me and that many people would work on their night off for me.”
Other waitress staff has continued to cover her shifts.
“Tommy and Kim love me that much; anyone that truly knows me knows that I don’t think I am all that special. I am just a waitress, but I guess I am wrong,” said Lewis.
Lewis extended her gratitude to both Tommy and Kim Sacco, along with Kellie Moore, Alexandra Sacco, Kim Boiusseau, Justin Abatiello, Bianca Sinapi, Karen DiLorenzo Macerone, Allie Vallier, Vincenzo, Paul, Eddie and even the newest hire, a dishwasher, who she has not yet met. Tommy’s Pizza Too is usually closed on Mondays, but opened up especially for this employee benefit.
“Before last Monday evening, I really didn’t know what I was going to do,” said Lewis. “Being a waitress, I make a decent amount of money because I think I am pretty good at what I do. I thank God for everything that everyone has done for me and I take nothing for granted. Tommy’s isn’t just where I work. Tommy’s is my family.”
The benefit, and her injury, has given Lewis a new perspective. She has taken the recovery time as an opportunity to spend more time with her children and family.
“They grow up so quickly and it is making me realize that I want to do more for the community, for the one that I live in and the ones that I work in,” she said. “Everything happens for a reason. Maybe God has a bigger plan for me.”