When speaking to Gabrielle Puglia’s peers, friends, and relatives, the word “passion” comes up over and over again. Born and bred in Brooklyn, Puglia’s mission in life is to help those in her community that are in need.
“I would describe myself as an empathetic, kind, modern-day hippie just trying to leave the world better than I found it,” she explains.
One of her passions is Wreaths Across America, an organization that honors fallen American soldiers on national Wreaths Across America Day.
The organization visits Cypress Hills National Cemetery and performs a Ceremony of Remembrance followed by the laying of Remembrance Wreaths.
“Gabrielle Puglia deserves the honor of being a Woman of Distinction because she embodies all of the qualities which exemplify the award,” says her friend, Heather Cuccio.
Cuccio continues, “She reminds and educates our community on how they can honor those soldiers whom presently serve and those whom have passed with the recognition they so rightfully deserve.”
In addition to Wreaths Across America, Puglia is involved in numerous philanthropy projects that focus on our military. One of those projects is the Hero’s Benefit, which she founded.
“I have watched the Hero’s Benefit grow from a small successful benefit, to a huge, thriving benefit with quite a following,” says the Woman of Distinction about her efforts to improve the lives of U.S. soldiers. She adds, “I keep my charity work alive in the interim by spearheading initiatives to send care packages to troops throughout the year.”
Puglia feels that same passion when she speaks about her hometown.
“I think Brooklyn has a character and notoriety unique to its borough. When you tell someone you’re from Brooklyn, everyone immediately envisions the Brooklyn Bridge, and every musician they know from the area. It has an history and culture all of its own,” she says.
She graduated from Manhattan College with a Bachelor of Arts with honors, majoring in communications with a minor in Spanish. She is currently working towards an Masters of Science in speech-language pathology from Long Island University Brooklyn.
Working hard her entire life, Puglia has accomplished quite a lot.
“I believe I have been successful in my life because I am extremely passionate and put my best efforts into everything I do,” she says.
It’s possible that Puglia inherited the spirit of giving from her role model — her mother — who was the head nurse of the emergency room at a hospital in Brooklyn.
“I watched her save lives, manage an emotionally and physically demanding job, and then come home and take care of my brother and myself, making the juggle seem effortless,” says Puglia. “She truly exemplifies what it means to be a strong, independent, and empowering woman.”
Puglia is as modest as she is passionate, saying: “I want people to remember that I am just a girl from Brooklyn trying to make a difference.”
But like many mothers, her mom isn’t shy about how proud she is of her daughter.
“Gabrielle is the kindest, most loving, and most unselfish person I have ever met, says her mother, Elena Vaccarino. “She will find a way to move mountains for the good of someone else, and not stop until her goal is accomplished. She does everything with her whole heart or not at all.”
NEIGHBORHOOD: Bay Ridge
Executive assistant to co-founder
Owl Rock Capital Partners
CLAIM TO FAME:
The Hero’s Benefit
FAVORITE BROOKLYN PLACE: The bike path near Shore Road
WOMAN I ADMIRE: My mother, Elena Vaccarino. She is truly the most caring, strong, brave, and inspiring human being I have ever met
MOTTO: “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” — Gandhi