Ami Vitori Kimener is one of Middletown’s biggest cheerleaders. As a wife and mom, an entrepreneur, an outstanding community leader, and a volunteer, Ami is committed to serving Middletown. She wants to see her hometown thrive.
Ami is an entrepreneur with a successful story in Torchlight Pass (http://www.torchlightpass.com). Ami has also served in a variety of leadership roles within the community, such as acting as the president of the Middletown Convention and Visitors Bureau. Ami graduated from Middletown High School in 1991.
We talked more to Vitori Kimener (www.amivitori.com) to find out why she believes in Middletown.
Q: We'd like to know more about you. Tell us about yourself and your family?
A: I was born and raised in Middletown. I'm fourth generation, so my great-grandfather had moved here. I left and went to school in Washington D.C., and spent 25 years in D.C., New York and Los Angeles, working across finance, the entertainment business and into branding and marketing. My husband, Kevin, and I have three sons — Marco, 7, Logan, 4, and Hutton, 2. When Hutton was born, we were living in Washington D.C. It made sense for us to consider coming home to be closer to family, changing our lifestyle a little bit and focusing more on the impact we could have. So, we did that in June of 2015. I was still doing client work with branding and marketing, but I was also seeking out something to go into next that felt like it was more about something, and something that was more personally satisfying.
In coming to downtown Middletown, and seeing the revitalization happen, I came across the Torchlight Pass building, which at the time was TV Middletown, and I purchased that in May of 2016. I had an eye on trying to have an impact on the revitalization, and how that can ripple through our community. I started to get involved with Middletown at large as far as what I could do as a business owner, a volunteer and a community advocate to try and move Middletown into a bright new century. The way I’ve always approached things is to think big, and to see how broad the vision can be. We’ve spent the last year and a half building businesses, raising our children and getting involved in the community. It’s been a wonderful transition after all the years of living in big cities.
Q: As far as community values, what's important to you as a wife and a mom?
A: Safety is important. We want to have a good quality of life and feel like our children have opportunities, and that we can engage in our community in a way that feels diverse and exciting. And, I think that's where we are at right now with trying to bring the revitalization across the whole city. We're trying to get back to that all-American city that Middletown was in the 1960s, which really meant there was a positive nature to the businesses, schools and community events, where everyone felt like they mattered and it was a great place to be.
I think the heart of that has always still been in Middletown, but it’s suffered during some of the economic downturns, and many of those fears are still there. I value the people, who are trying to continue to rebuild the city, so we can have that quality of life like I did growing up, where it felt like everything was possible, and there were opportunities, and your family was lucky to live somewhere like Middletown.
Q: What is one of your favorite things about Middletown?
A: The people. The people here define what neighbors are. We lived in big cities for so long, where it felt difficult to connect with people, and I feel like you come to Middletown, and people are open and friendly, welcoming and helpful, and available. I think that is hard to come by today, because we're all so busy. But, I think people in Middletown have held on to that old-fashioned sense of community, where they will put themselves out there for their neighbors.
Q: Four generations of your family are from Middletown. What does that mean to you as far as making your mark or leaving a legacy.
A: For me, it would be hard to surpass the imprint that my grandparents left on so many people when they had their grocery in Mayfield, which is a neighborhood here in Middletown. They were such pillars of our community just by the help and support they gave people who came on troubled times, and needed an extra hand. I see people weekly who tell me how my grandparents saved their family. I don't think I'll ever beat that, but it's trying to build on that. I would hope I'd make them proud by trying to create my own sense of place within the community, and positivity for Middletown in the things that I'm doing with the building, and the other work I do across town — it's just trying to preserve that Middletown spirit that I think we all have.
Q: What are you most proud of about what you've been able to accomplish so far?
A: I'm most proud of seeing other Middletonians excited, and feeling like 'Wow, we get to have this in Middletown.' For a long time, it felt like Middletown hasn't deserved to have great things, or they all left. So, there's been this gap. I love when I hear people say, 'We have a yoga studio in Middletown,' or others come into Gracie's and leave comments and reviews like 'I can't believe this restaurant is in Middletown.' In a good way. Again, it's making people feel like what it was like to grow up here. I think the community pride has always been strong. Being able to give that feeling to people like they matter, and that Middletown is a great city is cool to see.
Q: You're running for Middletown City Council. Can you give us some insight on why you wanted to do that?
A: It feels like right now, with Middletown and what we’re trying to accomplish, versus a lot of the (negative) narrative that’s out there about Middletown, we have a real chance to change the perception and to share all of the good things that continue to build on these more modern and progressive things that have been happening in town. For me, it’s not as much about wanting to go into government as it is about wanting to further a lot of these same ideals that I’ve had in the work I’ve been doing downtown and across the city. Council seems like it will give me that next level of ability to tell our story, and communicate more about Middletown — to bring more interest and innovation to town.
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