Issuu on Google+

H opelessly Romantic M edia P roductions

Boutique Magazines

Through Her Eyes THE VICTORIA NAPOLITANO STORY

The inspiring true story of how Victoria overcame almost complete blindness, the loss of her career as a police detective, the loss of her marriage, and the loss of her life savings to become CEO of her own successful company, Hopelessly Romantic Media Productions.

2014


Publisher Hopelessly Romantic Media Productions Production Manager Dave Storton DaveStorton@gmail.com Writer Dave Storton Layout/Design Hopelessly Romantic Media Productions team Photographers Dave Storton Tom O’ Neal Victoria Napolitano Official web site: VictoriaNapolitano.com Our web sites: Hopelessly Romantic Magazine Tac Up Fitness The Classic Male Victoria Napolitano Victoria Napolitano Radio How to reach us: Mailing Address: 315 Montgomery Street 9th Floor San Francisco, California 94104 Phone 800-283-6157 Online: HopelesslyRomanticMediaProductions.com Entire contents Copyright Š 2014 by Hopelessly Romantic Media Productions unless otherwise noted on specific articles. All rights reserved.

Through Her Eyes

2

The Victoria Napolitano Story


This is dedicated to: My wonderful son, Tyler, who has been by my side through it all. He is such a blessing. My business partner, Dave Storton, for believing in me and seeing my potential when no one else could. San JosĂŠ Police Chaplain Jim Becknall for calling when I needed it most. The mystery person who sent me enough money to keep my lights on. All the police personnel who made donations. And for the many kind and generous people who have given me encouragement through their words and actions.

Through Her Eyes

3

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Through Her Eyes

Victoria Napolitano and her son, Tyler

Through Her Eyes

4

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Use your iPhone or iPAD to listen to the Exclusive Interview with Victoria Napolitano Interviewed by Rob R Morris Decoding Your Past

Foreword The bandages on her eyes darkened her world and her dreams. Victoria Napolitano might have been the first black woman to work as a robbery detective at the San Jose Police Department, but now she wondered how she would even survive. The city that employed her was fighting to deny responsibility for her medical costs related to an eye injury she sustained while on duty. She had used all of her sick time and personal savings to make ends meet. Her husband had left her when he learned she might never regain her eyesight. She soon discovered he had not paid the bills before leaving, so her electricity was about to be turned off. She wondered how she would care for her fouryear-old son, Tyler. It couldn’t get any worse. The story of how Victoria—through hard work, determination, and an unmatched drive to succeed—came back from these dire circumstances is truly moving. Somehow, through all the adversity, she found something positive: her talent for poetry. She built upon this talent as she slowly recovered much of her eyesight. This story is about Victoria’s extraordinary courage. She went from the depths of despair to starting a business and publishing this magazine. What you will learn about her life is the result of in-depth interviews with Victoria and of those close to her. Her strong sense of modesty and privacy led to more than a few difficult discussions about what I could include in these articles. She reluctantly agreed that if her story is to be told, it must be told in full. I think you will find her narrative as compelling and inspirational as any you have ever heard. Victoria has taken a bold risk, and it is paying off. She is a unique individual and one of the most driven people I know. Most people have heard of entrepreneurs being called “go-getters.” I have taken to calling her a “go-giver” because of her kindness and her vision of how businesses working together can achieve great things. Expect to see her doing great things in the months and years to come.

Through Her Eyes

5

The Victoria Napolitano Story


The car blasted through the red light as it slid around the corner. The four bank robbers had not seen Officer Victoria Napolitano parked in the dark nearby, waiting for them. A veteran of the street, a gut feeling told her they would be on the move. As cops often do, to the dismay of unwary speeders, she had set herself up in a perfect spot where she could watch traffic and not be seen. But her quarry this night was not Joe Citizen driving home too fast—it was these violent criminals.

she said trying not to show her emotion. “My vision seems better now though.”

As she pulled out after them, she went through her mental checklist; shotgun release switch, direction of travel, likely escape routes, types of weapons these characters might have. This is why she had become a cop—she loved the adrenaline rush of moments like this. As she closed in on them, she picked up her radio microphone: “San Jose, Six-One-Lincoln-Three,” she said in a calm voice. “Go ahead Six-One-Lincoln-Three,” replied the monotone voice of the radio dispatcher.

Monday morning she sat nervously in the waiting room of the doctor’s office. When her name was finally called, she anxiously followed the nurse in and sat on the paper-covered exam table. After all the usual poking and prodding, she told the doctor about her vision problem and how it seemed like she was looking through a curtain.

“Go to the doc tomorrow to find out what’s going on. In the meantime, you’re on the desk.” She was preoccupied on her way home to Davis. She had only recently moved there, and the two-hour drive gave her a chance to think, enjoy music, and—after the events of the day—to worry about her vision.

“Stand right here and look at the eye chart on the wall,” he instructed. “Well,” she said hesitatingly, “I can see the letter at the top is an E.”

Suddenly, the license plate became blurry. Then she could not see it at all. Blinking her eyes, she frantically tried to clear her vision. She was having a hard time seeing anything, much less a license plate. Fear and concern replaced the excitement of the chase as she carefully pulled to the curb and the dispatcher tried to contact her again.

“You can’t see anything below that?” he asked with a little surprise. “No. No, I can’t,” she said solemnly. “I know an excellent ophthalmologist in Woodland. I’m going to make an appointment for you to see him.” He made an appointment for her for the next day.

Trying to mask the anxiety in her voice, Victoria called in again: “Disregard my last “Let’s take a look at you,” the ophthaltransmission.” mologist said, putting an apparatus on his head that made him look like a coal miner After a few minutes, her vision cleared in a white coat. He turned the lights off and somewhat. Making her way back to the sta- looked closely into her eyes, his face inches tion, her mind raced with thoughts of what from hers. “Have you been having any pain had just happened. She had applied to be- lately, or…? Nurse!” come a robbery detective and would soon The nurse rushed in. “Yes, Doctor.” be transferring to that coveted position. “Make an emergency appointment for Although she had never placed great im- Victoria,” he said, peeling off the apparatus. portance on such things, she would be the first black woman to be a robbery detective She could read his face. She could feel in San Jose. She wondered if this historic something was terribly wrong. Tears began opportunity was now in jeopardy. to well up in her eyes. “This is no time for crying, Victoria. You “Hi, Sarge,” she said, but without her are going blind,” he said matter-of-factly. usual Colgate smile. “Were you hit or bumped in the head re“What happened out there? The boys cently?” picked up the chase of those robbery suspects after you pulled off. That’s not like She thought for a second or two. Then you.” she remembered several months ago she had been investigating a car accident when “It was like a dark curtain was lowered in she had slipped on some wet, oily pavement front of my eyes. I couldn’t see very well,” and fallen, hitting her head. Through Her Eyes

6

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Through Her Eyes

7

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Through Her Eyes

8

The Victoria Napolitano Story


The assisting officer had made fun of her for being so clumsy. Later that evening, a bad headache had left her feeling unwell. She had let her sergeant know she was going to park for a little while until the aspirin took effect. Thinking about it, she realized that her vision problems had started not too long after that incident.

She arrived at the hospital at five the next morning. The hospital was cold, and the unflattering gown required of all patients provided little in the way of warmth. The paperwork she was given was unsettling. Having to sign a paper that said she understood she may be completely blind after the surgery was very upsetting, but she tried to keep it together. She was frightened as she was wheeled impersonally into the operating room.

“Your left retina is detached. It has four tears and is hanging down about half way. And the right retina is on the verge of detaching. Without immediate surgery, you will go blind. Even with surgery, you could still lose your vision. Go straight home, and rest. Your appointment is tomorrow.”

The anesthesiologist gave his canned spiel with as much personal warmth as the antiseptic tile floor upon which he rolled his annoying stool. He made no attempt to conceal his lack of enthusiasm for his job.

She was scared. How could this be happening? Everything had been going relatively well. She had had some arguments lately with her husband, Randy, but who doesn’t have arguments? How could she care for her son, Tyler, who had just turned four?

“Please give me enough so that I don’t wake up in the middle of the surgery,” she pleaded, thinking back to when she woke up during her cesarean section when Tyler was born. “I seem to need more than most people.”

The next day, she nervously walked into the office of the specialist. Most of the people in the waiting room were more than twenty years her senior. After a short wait, her name was called. This doctor examined her in much the same way the other doctor had.

“Don’t worry, you won’t,” he said dryly and without looking at her. At least her surgeon had some personality. “We’re going to make fun of you when you’re asleep,” he said. She could hear a few giggles from the nurses. “Now, count backwards for me from one hundred.”

“You have a serious condition, VictoShe did not get very far before going ria,” he said. “We must operate immedi- under. Suddenly, she woke up. She could ately. I have you scheduled for tomorrow feel her eyeball out of its socket and a pullmorning.” ing sensation. Mercifully, there was no pain, but it was terrifying. She tried to “Will I go blind?” she asked, trying to move, but her hands were tied down. hold her emotions in check. “I can’t say for sure, but you will if we “She’s awake!” she heard a voice shout. don’t operate right away. I want you to watch a video, as best you can, about the “She can’t be!” another voice exclaimed. procedure. You can watch it on the TV in She heard some scuffling, and then she the waiting room.” was out again. This terrifying moment would haunt her dreams for a long time. As she watched the video, she heard a not-so-subtle gasp from one of the old laHer husband, armed with written indies in the waiting room with her. structions on her care and recovery, was there to take her home. The doctor told “You are too young to have this happen him to read everything and also told him to you, dear,” said another lady. that Victoria may never recover her eyesight. Only time would tell. She did not know how to respond, so she just watched in silence about needles, Still feeling groggy, Victoria lay on the anesthesia, and prospects for recovery. bed and went to sleep. It was the pain that Numb, she left the office with instructions awakened her hours later. The pain was so on where to go in the morning for the op- intense she had Randy call the doctor. He eration. returned to her a few minutes later:

Through Her Eyes

9

The Victoria Napolitano Story


“Uh, you are not supposed to lie down. pleaded. “This is worse than I thought it They told me you have to stay sitting. I was going to be.” guess I didn’t read the instructions they “You’ll be OK. You’ll survive,” he said gave me,” Randy told her. without a hint of empathy in his voice. Her mind raced. This can’t get worse, When her medication took effect, she she thought. She sat holding Tyler, trying propped herself upright in bed and tried to think of what to do next. to sleep. Wandering between sleep, half“How can I take care of Tyler? He’s only sleep, and wakefulness, she thought about four!” what she was going to do. Could she go “You’ll work something out,” he said. back to work? Could she work at all? He then turned on his heel and left. Would she be blind? She held Tyler close, his head on her shoulder. Tears streamed down her face The next morning, she could hear Ran- as she wondered what to do next. dy stomping around the house. “Randy, what’s wrong?” she asked. The kindness of her in-laws got Victoria “You sound upset.” through her long recuperation from eye “I feel like a caged animal in here with surgery. Her mother-in-law, Linda, drove you,” he snapped. her to many appointments and helped “If you are that upset, why don’t you go take care of Tyler. Lou, her father-in-law, out for a while?” used his sense of humor to keep her spirits “I’m going to my Mom’s.” up while Linda handled the little things so “I obviously can’t watch Tyler right often taken for granted by those who can now.” see. Victoria gained a new appreciation “I’ll take him with me then,” he said for those without sight—an appreciation curtly. “Let’s go, Tyler,” he said as he she would later express by raising money picked up the four-year-old and stormed for the Center for the Blind. She would be out. forever grateful to Linda and Lou for their understanding and kindness. She heard the door slam. The house was quiet. Having not eaten since the But kindness and understanding were day before surgery, she was suffering the not strengths of her employer—the city of pangs of hunger. She felt her way into San Jose is not in the business of sympathe kitchen and groped through the cup- thy. There are few people in the workers’ boards until she heard the familiar crack- compensation system with any empathy, ling of a wrapper. “Great, Saltines,” she and bureaucracy often eats up injured pothought. There were only five left. She lice offers. ate the crackers and took her medication. She felt her way into the family room, Victoria telephoned Doreen, the workrunning into the coffee table and knock- er’s compensation coordinator, who told ing over Lord knows what. “Damn,” she her she was sending a large packet of said out loud. forms for her to complete. Victoria told her that the injury she sustained was to Alone, unable to see, and not know- her eyes, and she would not be able to ing what the future held, she stood in the read the forms because the print was too dark. As reality closed in, her emotions small. welled up. She fell to her knees, tears seeping from beneath her bandages. The “Well, if you cannot read the informarest of the day and night was spent in and tion, have someone read it to you,” said out of sleep as she struggled to stay up- Doreen. right. “I can’t see the forms to complete them She heard Randy come in. It was or sign them,” Victoria told her. morning. He may not be in a good mood, she thought, but at least he can help me “We can’t process anything until you get through the day somehow. complete and sign the forms. Just put an ‘X’ in the area of the highlighted signature “I am moving to L.A.,” he said without block,” Doreen said, sounding a little anso much as a greeting. noyed. “What? You can’t leave now!” she Through Her Eyes

10

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Photography: Dave Storton Through Her Eyes

11

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Victoria contacted James Jeffers, the attorney to whom she had been referred by the Police Officers’ Association. He had sounded competent enough at the time. After hearing her story of how she was injured when she fell on wet, oily pavement during the investigation of a traffic accident, he told her not to worry. Jeffers gave her the name of a doctor who would verify that blunt trauma to the head can cause detached retinas. Despite her poor eyesight, Victoria drove from Davis to San Rafael for her appointment with Dr. Weber. There was no one available to take her there, so she felt like she had no choice but to drive as carefully as she could. While she waited, Victoria thought of what she would do when her vacation and sick time ran out. When the city denied her claim, she had to start using sick and vacation time because the city’s ruling prohibited her from being on disability leave. When her name was called, she entered the examining room.

safely made her way back home. Two weeks later, Victoria walked into the Sacramento office of the eye specialist selected by the city. She sat in the waiting room thinking about how she would be able to recover her sick and vacation time once placed on disability leave. Her name was called, and she entered the examining room. After a few minutes, the doctor walked in to greet her. “My, you’re a big girl,” he said. “Uh, OK,” Victoria replied, not knowing how to respond. The doctor looked her up and down and, before examining her eyes, he said, “I know why you are here. I know people like you, and you did not get hurt at work.”

Victoria was so shocked by his comment that she did not know what to say. The doctor put drops in her eyes to dilate them. While she was waiting, she thought that maybe he did not understand. May“It looks like they did a good job of re- be he had confused her with someone attaching the retinas. You know, you may else. When he came back, she related to still lose your vision as a result of this in- him what had happened at the accident jury,” the doctor said grimly. scene: the fall, the blow to the head, and the eye problems she experienced not long “Yes, that’s what I was told.” after. She told him how she thought her The doctor looked into her eyes again prescription lenses just needed updating with the now-familiar instrument. or something similar, only to discover her retinas were detached. The doctor rolled “In a claim like this, all that is neces- his eyes as he responded with an occasionsary to obtain compensation is a fifty-one al grunt. percent chance that the injury happened while you were at work. From what you “I will tell you right now that my report told me and the type of injury you have, will say your eyes did not get hurt at work,” I think it is most likely the result of the he told her with a stern tone. fall you described,” said the doctor as he turned the lights back on. As she followed him to a special examination room, Victoria related what Dr. WeVictoria thanked Dr. Weber and tele- ber had told her. He just laughed. “Well, phoned Mr. Jeffers from the parking lot to you’ll never be a fighter pilot,” he said. He tell him the news. Mr. Jeffers told her she put Victoria through numerous tests and would next have to visit an eye specialist eventually took her back to the original who represented the city. This would not examination room. After one more look be the city physician, Dr. Das, although at her eyes, he walked out without a word. Dr. Das would be communicating with the specialist. She would be visiting the speShe waited for another twenty minutes, cialist in a couple of weeks, but because of anxious for the exam to be finished. FiDr. Weber’s diagnosis, she thought every- nally, she asked at the reception desk how thing would be fine. much longer she would have to wait. “Oh, he’s done with you. You can go,” said the While on the way home, she realized receptionist with a hint of disdain in her she had not given her eyes enough time to voice. adjust after being dilated. She was having a difficult time seeing the road when she Victoria called Mr. Jeffers on her cell suddenly felt her tires on the dirt shoul- phone as soon as she left the office. Mr. der. She veered back onto the road. With Jeffers told her not to worry since they had her heart pounding, she slowed down and the opinion of Dr. Weber. Through Her Eyes

12

The Victoria Napolitano Story


“He just laughed. “Well, you’ll never be a fighter pilot,” he said.”

Through Her Eyes

13

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Members of the department had also donated almost 1,200 hours of vacation time to her so that she could continue her recovery without being fired.

Through Her Eyes

14

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Mrs. Poleti from police personnel would routinely call to see how Victoria was doing. But after the specialist hired by the city rendered his opinion, Poleti’s tone changed. “Why don’t you just get a job in Davis?” she urged. “We don’t want you back here, and I am going to make sure you don’t come back. You will come back and fall down the stairs or something in order to make the city pay for your eyes.” “I am not like that,” said Victoria. “I just want to get better and have the city cover my injury that happened while I was at work.” “We are not buying your eyes,” said Mrs. Poleti, and the conversation ended. During her recovery, Victoria went months without hearing from her husband. All she knew was that he had quit his job and moved to Los Angeles to join a rock band. He had not paid any bills when he left, and thus Victoria was almost out of reserve funds when she received a letter from Police Chaplain Jim Bicknell. The letter came with a check from an anonymous member of the department who wanted to help her. It came on the very day she received a notice that her electricity would be turned off. Members of the department had also donated almost 1,200 hours of vacation time to her so that she could continue her recovery without being fired. Afraid she would be fired and that she would run out of money and donated vacation hours, Victoria decided to try to get back to work. She scheduled another visit with the doctor and told him she was feeling fine—thankfully, he did not ask her to read the eye chart. Knowing her night vision was poor, she was able to get cleared for duty and assigned to a swing shift in the patrol division.

Through Her Eyes

15

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Photography: Dave Storton Through Her Eyes

16

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Her colleagues immediately took steps to help keep her stay safe on the street. Her sergeant, Rich Brooks, assigned her to work a twoperson car as a matter of routine (this practice was uncommon in San Jose). Officers Burt Valdez, Ron Bays, and Francisco Ordaz worked with her, not allowing her to drive or to get into situations that could be dangerous. Trying to plan for a future away from the police department, Victoria completed her bachelor’s degree in criminology. She transferred to the midnight shift to go to school and enrolled in the master’s program at the University of the Pacific. The only black administrator ever to be in charge of the psychology department told her he was glad she had enrolled. “You know, Victoria,” the administrator said, “no black students have made it through this master’s program in psychology. They never make it past the middle of the semester.” “I plan on being the first then,” said Victoria, flashing her bright smile.

when so many others were apparently cheating? She decided to e-mail the administrator who had wanted her to succeed. She told him what was happening and that she could not succeed without cheating like so many others, which she was unwilling to do. He never emailed her back. Refusing to cheat, Victoria decided she would just have to take a failing grade. The administrator did not return her calls, and she was past the deadline to drop the course without penalty. Just as she was about to give up, another professor in the psychology department approached her. She thought this was a little odd because he was not her instructor. “Victoria, let’s go for a walk,” he said. He led her down one of the many pathways running through the campus. “What’s going on with your grades?” “I just can’t compete on the bell curve. I have been studying a lot, but I just can’t seem to keep up,” she explained. “You know, there are more than a few people who have the answers before the test.”

“I am confident you will be.” Although she worked hard, she was receiving poor grades because the instructor graded on a bell curve. She was older than most of the “How about if we let you drop the class with students, but she thought she should be doing your record only showing a withdrawal instead better, so she went to the professor for advice. of a failing grade?” he proposed. “We will look into whether the test was compromised, but “Maybe you should just quit your job or quit there is nothing we can do immediately that school. You can’t do both.” will save you.” Finding this advice of little use, she apVictoria agreed and quietly left the univerproached a student who she knew was doing sity. well. “Why are you working so hard?” he asked. She enrolled in the New College of Cali“I am usually a good student; it’s just that fornia in San Francisco, and things were soon this bell curve is killing me. So many people going well. She liked her classmates and enare doing well that I can’t seem to get ahead.” joyed her teachers. But after a few months, she started having migraine headaches, and her “Look, I thought I mentioned this to you at eyes would frequently hurt. She went to see her the start of the class. Just buy the answers to doctor. the tests.” “Hello, Victoria. How are things going?” he “Buy the answers?” Victoria was astonished. asked. “How do you think most of the class does “Things are going well, but I have been havso well? This teacher uses the same test every ing migraines, and my eyes have been really year, so the new students buy the answers from hurting.” his past students. Really, you don’t need to work so hard,” he said, shaking his head. “Let’s take a look. Tell me about your schedVictoria knew she was not going to cheat, ule,” he said as he examined her eyes. but how was she going to beat the bell curve

Through Her Eyes

17

The Victoria Napolitano Story


“Well, I work at the police department from nine at night to seven in the morning, and then I drive for an hour and a half home to Davis. I sleep for a couple of hours, then I leave at 11:30 am for school in San Francisco from 1 to 5 pm. I then drive another hour and a half to work in San Jose. I sleep in the locker room for a couple of hours and then work 9 pm to 6:30 am again. I do this every Monday and Wednesday. I am off work on Fridays, but I go to school on Fridays. I am also taking care of Tyler in addition to studying on my days off.”

not cause detached retinas. Although this assertion is not true, proving it at a hearing is not cost-effective for an attorney.

“Even without your eye problem, I would tell any patient to stop that type of schedule. No wonder you have headaches and your eyes hurt! You need to stop this nonsense or risk losing your vision sooner rather than later— not to mention the rest of your health.”

Dr. Das gave her some information about what she could do, none of which involved the city taking care of her injury. As she was about to leave, he said, “You know, it’s your fault your eyes are bad. If you had gone to an ophthalmologist from the beginning, you wouldn’t have these problems.”

Victoria knew he was right and sadly withdrew from her master’s program. She wondered why things kept happening to keep her from achieving her goals. Her patrol assignment went well enough for about eighteen months, but she was always trying to compensate for her poor vision. Going into a darkened house was particularly difficult, so during critical situations she would take a position on the outer perimeter. After several close calls and a nightmare she had about her partner being shot because of her, she decided to get off the street. Victoria landed an assignment in the preprocessing center where arrestees are taken for interrogation and preparation for booking. The only problem was that every two weeks she was supposed to go out on patrol, which caused a problem because she was working the swing shift. Her sergeant took care of her as best he could by having her work inside or giving her the night off. But another sergeant was not so kind. He made it his business to force her to work on the street or quit. In the meantime, she had located another attorney who said he could win her case and help her obtain disability retirement. Victoria had the case transferred from Mr. Jeffers to the new attorney, who started to pursue options that he said looked promising. But when he discovered that the city physician who denied her claim was the same one used by his firm, he gave up. He told her she had no case. According to the specialist hired by the city (and also contracted by his firm), blunt trauma can-

Through Her Eyes

18

She decided to make one more visit to Dr. Das, the city physician. “Oh, Napolitano, what can I do for you?” “Are there any options for me other than to resign? It just does not seem right that a work injury like this is not covered, despite what the specialist told you,” she said.

“At the time, I did not know the reason for my vision problems.” “Well, your ignorance cost you your eyes,” Dr. Das said. He then turned and walked away. She decided she could no longer put herself through this living Hell. Because there was no money for an attorney to fight a case like this, she was left with no other option but to resign. The most difficult thing for her, aside from the financial hardship she faced, was the betrayal she felt from the city of San Jose. She worked hard for the city for fourteen years and received seventeen letters of commendation, excellent performance appraisals, and all kinds of awards for her work in the community. She had won the Martin Luther King Good Neighbor Award for her work with the children at the San Jose Children’s Shelter, city residents would write thank-you letters for her compassionate service, her supervisors and colleagues thought very highly of her, and she was the first black woman to become a robbery detective, but none of it meant anything. The city had a short memory; it forgot about the investigations in which Victoria had potentially saved the city millions of tax dollars because of her conscientious and thorough work. The city forgot about the many times she had saved lives as a hostage negotiator. Instead, the city of San Jose accused her of being a liar and wanted to get rid of her just to save money.

The Victoria Napolitano Story


“Well, your ignorance cost you your eyes,” Dr. Das said. He then turned and walked away.

Through Her Eyes

19

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Many people insisted Victoria had a case— plenty of scientific research shows that blunt trauma can cause detached retinas. But the city’s strategy appeared to be to fight Victoria and wear her down until she ran out of money and lost her will to continue fighting. Victoria decided to spend her time and energy as an entrepreneur rather than relying on the city bureaucracy’s decision, so she resigned, cashed out her retirement, and invested all she had in starting her business.

ples could share their photos with everyone in the form of a magazine rather than relying on a single wedding album that only a select few could see.

She was immediately noticed, and the The Herald of Monterey County published a lengthy article spotlighting her unique writing business at Cannery Row, but her business did not quite fit there. She found a home for Victoria’s Fine Writings in Carmel-by-the-Sea at Corteil San Remo on Delores between Fifth and Sixth Streets. A grim foreshadowing of what was to come in Carmel occurred when two ladies strolled in the door one day and looked around. One said, “You have a very nice store here. It’s too bad you’re black,” and they walked out.

As Victoria was building her business, she sought advice from a former colleague at the police department. Dave Storton was the director of the police academy, and he later became the commander of the Financial Crimes Unit that investigated white collar crime. He also has his own business, The Driving Company, where he teaches off road driving to fire departments, search and rescue agencies, sheriff ’s departments, and the military. His business and financial advice proved invaluable as Victoria set up her magazine company.

She had enrolled Tyler in the local Catholic school. Things were fine for a few years, but when Tyler reached seventh grade, the bullying started. He got through the year and was assured by the principal that the problem would be taken care of so that Tyler would be fine during his final year there. She also told him that he would get beaten up for sure in public school. Tyler returned for his eighthgrade year, but things were not better. After repeated complaints to teachers and the principal that a bully was making his life very difficult, nothing was done. The bully would physically intimidate him, rub his crotch on him, and continually ridicule and embarrass him. The final straw occurred when the bully told Tyler—the only black kid in the school—that no blacks were allowed. The principal said that was not racist behavior. Tyler was pulled from the school just seven weeks before graduating from eighth grade. He had to graduate from the local public school where he did not know anyone. Because it was clear that the racial climate in Carmel was not conducive to the family’s success, Victoria moved her business to San Francisco. Hopelessly Romantic Magazine, a publication she designed, was gaining attention. She started offering custom magazines to couples that included their wedding photographs and messages to their guests. This way, couThrough Her Eyes 20

Victoria has developed great expertise in the latest publishing software. This expertise, combined with her artistic eye, produces stunning magazines. She has recruited a team that includes writers, printers, photographers, editors, proofreaders, and project managers.

In 2010, Victoria took his off road workbook and put it into a magazine format. Dave immediately saw the potential for other businesses to have their own dedicated magazine. He was so excited about the possibilities for business magazines that he immediately invested in Hopelessly Romantic Media Productions. Victoria continued pushing into the wedding and romance market, but Dave wanted to see more marketing to businesses. When he retired from the police department in 2011, he decided to put his project and program management expertise into action by joining Victoria’s business. Admittedly unromantic, he got to work marketing business magazines. Dave said, “Victoria’s drive and determination to overcome extraordinary difficulties, combined with her creativity and work ethic, create such potential for success that I thought it would be foolish to pass up the opportunity to work with her. I am proud to be part of her team as her lead project manager, and I look forward to even more success as I help the company push into the business market.”

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Through Her Eyes

21

The Victoria Napolitano Story


In addition to achieving success in business, Victoria has overcome her share of personal challenges. As a result of stress, her inability to exercise, and long work hours, she had put on too much weight. Using the same drive and determination she applies to everything, she started an exercise and nutrition program. Every time she started to make progress, she would feel extremely fatigued and was often laid up for days at a time. She went to get a checkup and was told to stop working out because she was so anemic that she was in danger of

Through Her Eyes

having a heart attack. She ended up having a hysterectomy, which alleviated the problem. Once she recovered from the surgery, which for her was in short order, she got to work. She not only lost ninety pounds, but she also became a certified personal trainer and sports nutritionist while doing it. In addition, Victoria has also become a certified life coach, assisting others through difficult circumstances. Although she has endured much, she has an unwavering optimism that is contagious.

22

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Through Her Eyes

23

The Victoria Napolitano Story


city millions of tax dollars because climate in Carmel was not conducive of her conscientious and thorough to the family’s success, Victoria moved work. The city forgot about the many her business to San Francisco. Hopetimes she had saved lives as a hostage lessly Romantic Magazine, a publinegotiator. Instead, the city of San Jose cation she designed, was gaining ataccused her of being a liar and wanted tention. She started offering custom I to opened in Carmelmagazines to couples that included get rid ofmy her boutique just to save money. with great for theVictoria future,hadbuttheir wedding photographs and mesManyhopes people insisted case—plentymany of scientific soona discovered peopleresearch there dosages to their guests. This way, couples shows that bluntAnd, trauma can cause not like outsiders. as you read incould share their photos with everydetached retinas. But the city’s strat- one in the form of a magazine rather my story, some did a black per-than relying on a single wedding alegy appeared to not be tolike fight Victoria son and owning a business in their town. wear her down until she ran out bum that only a select few could see. My first efforts publishing and disof money andatlost her will to continue Hopelessly fighting. Victoria decided to Victoria has developed great extributing Romantic Magatime and energy as an called en- pertise in the latest publishing softzine spend were her sabotaged. A friend trepreneur rather than relying on the ware. This expertise, combined with me to me that decision, they had city tell bureaucracy’s so seen she aher artistic eye, produces stunning truckresigned, pull upcashed to theoutnewsstand where her retirement, magazines. She has recruited a team my magazine several others her werethat includes writers, printers, phoand investedand all she had in starting business. available for free. A person jumpedtographers, editors, proofreaders, and out of the truck, grabbed the stack ofproject managers. She was immediately noticed, and my magazines andofthrew them in the As Victoria was building her busithe The Herald Monterey County garbage bin nearby. I quickly checked published a lengthy article spotlight- ness, she sought advice from a former the other newsstands around town atandcolleague at the police department. ing her unique writing business Cannery but her business did Dave Storton was the director of the found that allRow, my magazines were gone. quite fit there. She found a home I wasnot obviously not going to be able topolice academy, and he later became for Victoria’s Fine Writings in Car- the commander of the Financial distribute my publication othersCrimes Unit that investigated white mel-by-the-Sea at Corteil with San Remo in town. on Delores between Fifth and Sixth collar crime. He also has his own busiStreets. A grim foreshadowing of what ness, The Driving Company, where he was today, come in occurred when One a Carmel photographer whoteaches off road driving to fire departtwo ladies in the door one day worked for strolled another magazine pub-ments, search and rescue agencies, around. One said, “You sheriff ’s departments, and the mililisherand inlooked asked toIt’smeet withtary. His business and financial advice have athe veryarea nice store here. too bad me. you’re I metblack, him” and at his studio thinking they walked out. proved invaluable as Victoria set up he wanted to work with me. Insteadher magazine company. had enrolled Tyler in theyou localare he said,She“Who do you think Catholic school. Things fine for coming to our town andwere doing what In 2010, Victoria took his off road a few years, but when Tyler reached workbook and put it into a magazine you seventh please? grade, You have to be sponsored the bullying started. format. Dave immediately saw the by someone of importance Youpotential for other businesses to have He got through the year andhere. was asneedsured to know place. are nottheir own dedicated magazine. He was by theyour principal thatYou the problem here, wouldand be taken care so that wanted people areofnot goingso excited about the possibilities for Tyleritwould be fine his final business magazines that he immedito make easy for you.during ” year there. She also told him that he ately invested in Hopelessly Romantic would get beaten up for sure in public Media Productions. Victoria continSoon theTyler recession make itued pushing into the wedding and roschool. returned didn’t for his eightheasy grade for anyone, businesses year, but and thingsmany were not better. mance market, but Dave wanted to see After repeated to teachin Carmel failed. I complaints started making plansmore marketing to businesses. When ers and principal that son a bully was he retired from the police department to leave thethe area once my finished making his life very difficult, nothing in 2011, he decided to put his project his 8thgrade was done.year. The bully would physi- and program management expertise cally intimidate him, rub his crotch into action by joining Victoria’s busiThere were unethical andand rac-ness. Admittedly unromantic, he got on him, andsome continually ridicule embarrass The but final there straw ocist people in him. Carmel, wereto work marketing business magathe bully told Tyler—the also curred plentywhen of kind, caring people aszines. Dave said, “Victoria’s drive and only black kid in the school—that no determination to overcome extraordiwell.blacks It waswere sad allowed. to see so The many talentednary difficulties, combined with her principal artists have to close up shop in such acreativity and work ethic, create such said that was not racist behavior. Tyler beautiful place. metschool some was pulled fromI the justwonderseven potential for success that I thought it weeks before from valuable eighth would be foolish to pass up the opporful people there,graduating and I learned grade. had to and graduate fromdesign. the tunity to work with her. I am proud to lessons in He business artistic local public school where he did not be part of her team as her lead project I don’t regret being in Carmel, but Imanager, and I look forward to even know anyone. absolutely love my San Francisco busi-more success as I help the company ness location! Because it was clear that the racial push into the business market.”

Carmel-by-the-Sea

Through Her Eyes

24

The Victoria Napolitano Story


________________________ I wrote poetry in my boutique dressed in a renaissance costume for my clients. I was

‘The Masked Pen’ ___________________

Through Her Eyes

25

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Epilogue

Photography: Dave Storton Through Her Eyes

26

The Victoria Napolitano Story


Many people ask me how I was able to keep a positive attitude and overcome so much. It has been a long journey, and I admit that some days my attitude was terrible! Sometimes I was sad, sometimes angry, sometimes frustrated, but always hopeful. Long before he was my business partner, Dave Storton would tell me that no matter what happens you have to keep moving forward. He quietly overcame his own challenges by always moving forward, and so did I. Some days you may only move a fraction of an inch, but make sure it is always in the right direction. Allowing others to love and help me has also been instrumental in my success. I learned that the people who really care about you and who step up to help are sometimes the ones you least expect – the ones who are often dealing with their own difficulties. You can let hardships, misfortune, and adversity chip away at you, or with perseverance they can sculpt you into the person you want to be. With Love Victoria

Our web sites: Hopelessly Romantic Magazine Tac Up Fitness The Classic Male Victoria Napolitano Victoria Napolitano Radio V

i

c

t

o

Through Her Eyes

r

i

a

N

a

p

o 27

l

i

t

a

n

o

.

c

o

The Victoria Napolitano Story

m


A professional project manager coordinates a top quality staff of writers, photographers, designers, editors, proofreaders, and print specialists. Our services include: a notably high quality digital or print publication using premium paper and inks is always the end result.

Boutique Magazines Presented by

Hopelessly Romantic Media Productions Perhaps you lost a loved one, or you were diagnosed with cancer, or you found out your spouse not only was unfaithful but also took your life savings. Sharing your story of courage and perseverance can be an inspiration to others. Now it’s time to make a difference in another person’s life by sharing and giving them hope. Maybe you, your mother, father, or grandparent possess a lifetime of stories you would like to save for future generations. Leave a lasting legacy by having them share their story in words and pictures. We will help you tell your story through gripping images and powerful words written by, or with the help of, a professional. Your story will be preserved in a beautiful magazine that can be shared for years to come. Don’t you think it’s time?

_____________________________________________________________________ HopelesslyRomanticMediaProductions.com


Through Her Eyes - The Victoria Napolitano Story