UPDATED: Nieva, family grateful for support

Bernardino Nieva, a 33-year-old cashier who made headlines after a police commissioner allegedly demanded $2,600 from him, will actually wind up receiving more than that amount himself thanks to dozens of Trumbull residents.

Planning and Zoning Commission Chairman Fred Garrity, who is also executive director of the annual CT United Ride and the Democratic candidate for state representative in the 134th District, recently started a GoFundMe account for Nieva. The account generated $2,600 in donations in its first day online. Nearly 60 people have donated, including $25 from Garrity himself, $50 from Marcy and Tom Kelly, $100 from Vicki and Tom Tesoro, $270 from Mitch Hallock and $500 from Mary Beth and Scott Thornton. In addition dozens of anonymous donors kicked in smaller amounts.

“We want you to know the good side of Trumbull,” the Thorntons wrote on the donation page.

Garrity said he was moved to start the page when he read about Nieva’s financial situation in news coverage of the incident between him and Police Commission Chairman Roger McGovern.

Nieva lives on Madison Avenue in Bridgeport and works as a cashier to help support his mother and disabled father and seven nieces and nephews. He rides his bicycle 2.5 miles to Stop & Shop on Quality Street because he cannot afford a car.

“I know people are going to look at this and say that I’m just doing this because I’m running for office,” Garrity said Monday. “But on the other hand, should I not help someone out because it’s campaign season?”

Garrity said it was Nieva’s personal story of working to try and improve the lives of his family members that has struck a chord in Trumbull.

“There are many great people here in Trumbull who, after reading of Mr. Nieva’s personal difficulties in the press and on social media, that really want to help and this is one way we can do that,” Garrity said. “I was asked to help and I just could not let this go unnoticed. Trumbull can show that we really do care.”

Several people left supportive messages on the GoFundMe page, including Kim Stagliano who said Nieva “always has a smile and a kind word” at work. Former coworker Amanda Rivera also sent her regards, recalling Nieva as a hard worker.

“I hope he gets the help he deserves,” she wrote. “More good things should happen to good people.”

Nieva said the family was grateful for the support, and it reinforced his impressions of Trumbull residents.

“I’ve been working at Stop & Shop for six years,” Nieva told the Times Tuesday. “I like it there. The people are nice.”

Nieva said rather than use the donated money toward the obvious purchase, a car, the money generated would go to his family.

“I walk or I ride my bike to work any weather, doesn’t matter,” he said. “I need to put money away so that if we have to move this year, we can pay for it.”

The family has lived in a house on Madison Avenue in Bridgeport for the past two years. The house is located just a few hundred feet from the Trumbull border.

“We wanted to stay near Trumbull, because we like it there,” Nieva said. “We lived in Trumbull 10 years, the longest we ever stayed anywhere. My nieces and nephews, they grew up there.”

The family moved to Bridgeport when their former landlord died and the house they were renting went on the market. Now the house they currently live in is for sale, so moving appears to once again be a necessity.

“A family this size, we need a house. We can’t all live in an apartment,” Nieva said. “I hope we can move back to Trumbull. My mother loved living in town. It’s a very nice place with nice people.”