Once addicted to heroin, this minister is now helping others as one of Philly's hunger fighters

Alfred Lubrano, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Religious News

So many agree: “He got me sober and off the street,” said Sean Wiggins, 55, a formerly homeless man who’s done some work at Small Things. “He has a heart of gold and has fed so many people in such a short amount of time.

“All he wants to do is help others. Vito is my man.”

Born in Overbrook into a blue-collar family, Baldini graduated from Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor in 1998. The youngest of four kids, he said: “We weren’t a perfect family. I saw drugs as a way out.”

After starting college at Cabrini University, Baldini moved swiftly from weed to ecstasy, acid, cocaine, opioid pills, and finally, heroin. He dropped out by his second semester.

What followed was a down-bound haze of five or six years. “I reached a point of saying, ‘This is who I am, a junkie who will never get better,’” Baldini said.

He was arrested twice — once for possession of marijuana, another time for illegally selling firearms, the latter of which brought a sentence of 24 months’ probation.


Capable of outrageous acts to pay his drug dealers, Baldini stole the gift-laden Christmas cards given to his schoolteacher sister by the parents of her students. Another time, he emptied the contents of his nephew’s piggy bank.

On the last night he got high — Jan. 12, 2004 — Baldini stole razor blades from a supermarket and sold them to guys in a bar. For some reason, he saw that petty theft as the final straw, and he got into rehab.

“I just looked up to God and said, ‘OK, I’ll try it your way.’”

And that was it.


swipe to next page
(c)2021 The Philadelphia Inquirer Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC. ©2021 The Philadelphia Inquirer, LLC. Visit at Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.