If you’ve been inside Fausto’s Food Palace any weekday for the last 30 years, you’ve seen David Ciuffetelli, who has been bagging groceries at the island’s most social grocery store since Feb. 1, 1993.
With his salt-and-pepper hair and mustache, Ciuffetelli is often asked if he’s related to City Commissioner Jimmy Weekley, who owns the two Fausto’s locations with his brother, Alton Weekley.
“It seems like half the people I see in there ask me if I’m related to Jimmy and Alton,” Ciuffetelli said on a recent Saturday at the Monroe Association of Remarkable Citizens (MARC), where he is a client. “But I’m not related. I’m just really glad to have my job there. Eggs and bread go on the top of the bags and heavy stuff on the bottom. The paper bags we use at Fausto’s are a lot easier than the old plastic bags. But we haven’t used those in a really long time. The paper bags stand up a lot more easily.”
Jimmy Weekley also gets similar questions on a near-daily basis.
“People always ask if he’s my son, or a relative,” Weekley said. “There’s no relation, but he’s certainly been like part of the family for the past 30 years.”
For more than 50 years, the nonprofit MARC organization has served adults with developmental disabilities, providing them with day-training classes, life skills lessons, a group home living situation for many, community field trips and jobs in the community suited to the clients’ individual abilities.
Ciuffetelli moved to Key West from New York state with his parents, who are now deceased, in 1989 when he was in his 20s.
“Now I’m 57. I have an apartment in Key West. I have my job at Fausto’s and I have my girlfriend, Maira Ortiz,” he said, beaming while looking at photos of the surprise party and cake he received on Feb. 1 for his 30th anniversary at Fausto’s. “I got called in to talk to someone at MARC and I thought I had done something wrong, but really it was a surprise party and someone had made me a chocolate cake. Susan and Alton Weekley came to celebrate with me. It was really nice.”
Ciuffetelli speaks in an earnest and emphatic matter that leaves no doubt about the genuine emotions behind his words.
His face lights up when he talks about his bowling skills with the Special Olympics, where he competes with Maira.
“She was born in Matanza, Cuba,” he said. “I met her in 2013 at the Dollar Tree.”
Ciuffetelli lives with a roommate and receives disability benefits for rent and groceries, which are overseen by Marlesa Whitney-Curtis, MARC’s director of supported living for clients who are able to live on their own with some assistance.
“My sister lives in Pasadena, Maryland and she calls me every Sunday,” Ciuffetelli said. “She’s gonna be so excited that my picture is in the paper. I’m really excited.