Roy Bertalotto would rather turn on a light than curse the darkness. And when darkness is inevitable, a reflective vest is the next best thing. He told us about his latest cause and why it is so important to him.

The Inspiration

“A few weeks ago, I was driving down Tucker Road early in the morning,” Bertalotto told us. “It was raining and still dark out. A jogger completely dressed in black jumped right out in front of my car to avoid a puddle. Thank God there was nobody coming in the other lane as I was able to swerve and avoid the jogger. At that point, I became aware that many joggers for whatever reason dress in black when they're jogging.”

Bertalotto suggested on a local town page that all joggers should be wearing reflective vests so they don't get hit by cars on Dartmouth streets without sidewalks. It was the Little Free Library that inspired him to come up with a plan to get reflective vests out to the masses.

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“Here in Dartmouth, we have these little library kiosks scattered around town where you can drop off a book and pick up a book to read,” Bertalotto said. “That gave me the idea to create a few kiosks with free reflective vests for joggers. To test my theory that they would actually use them, I purchased 100 reflective vests at Ocean State Job Lot and decided to offer all of them to joggers for free.”

The 100 vests finally came in and now he’s turning to the SouthCoast community to help make this idea a reality. Bertalotto listed three things that he will need:

Help Wanted

The first thing is a local Boy Scout or Girl Scout in need of a great community project to complete as he or she works toward an Eagle rank in Scouting.

“I thought building the little kiosks would be a great project for a scout that is working toward his or her eagle badge,” Bertalotto said. “I was involved with scouts many years ago when my children were young and I know how important it is for them to find a worthwhile community project. This one would be perfect. They will be building the kiosk under my supervision and then publicizing it through various means. As soon as I find a scout to work with me, we'll start construction.”

Materials Needed

The second thing he requested was the material to create the kiosks.

“We need scrap wood, old plastic political signs, paint, etc. to actually build the kiosks,” Bertalotto said. “There will be three to start.”

Funding for the Future

The last thing he asked for was a way to continue this project long after the original 100 vests are long gone.

“Although the first 100 vests were paid out of pocket, we will need to find a way to fund future vest purchases,” Bertalotto said. “If this thing all works out, I'm going to hit Ocean State Job Lot up for vests as needed if we’re all willing to contribute them to the community.”

The Response

It appears that the SouthCoast community is coming together for this man’s mission to protect those who enjoy jogging on local streets when the sun is nowhere to be seen. Since it’s now very dark by 5 pm, it’s no surprise that some joggers and runners might not have another option. This offering could prove to be a lifesaver.

“Maybe we can get these kiosks up and running in the next few days, and we'll hopefully save somebody from getting hit by a car,” Bertalotto said.

If you would like to help Roy Bertalotto in any way, please contact him via Facebook.

Update to the Free Vest Project in Dartmouth - Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Contributed by Roy Bertalotto

Roy Bertalotto launched the Free Jogging Vest Project on Tuesday, December 7. The prototype is on the corner of Tucker Rd and Country Club Blvd.

"It's so funny, Bertalotto said. "As I was setting it up, a jogger ran by dressed in a dark blue running suit. I called him over and gave him a vest! He was very appreciative! Let's hope this saves a life!"

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