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Exploring Life & Business with Cas Mastropaolo of Castera Charles Survive and Thrive

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cas Mastropaolo. 

Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
When you are born in a place like Haiti, life is a much different experience. I have many brothers and sisters, and we were about as poor as you could ever imagine being. Sick, malnourished, no understanding of the English language, and a problem I didn’t even know I had. I don’t remember exactly how I became a child slave. The restavek system is modern-day slavery. Children are put there to work without pay for random strangers or even for other families while getting mistreated. I ended up getting captured by human traffickers and becoming a kitchen slave. A white woman who was the missionary happened to walk by and purchased me for 60 bucks out of the slave market. On my left arm, I have a burn on my arm is a brand that will forever mark the name of the slave owner. The people at the slave market ended up burning it after the missionary rescued me. She ended up taking me to Lambs of St. Michael orphanage. I started tackle football in 5th grade. I fell in love with the sport, and it gave me a lot of purposes. Some people back in my hometown also didn’t think I would succeed because of my hearing loss and ADHD. But my family always had faith in me, whether it was a positive or negative situation. My adoptive parents found me on some adoption website. They wanted to adopt internationally, so they looked at other countries. They ended up picking Haiti and found me. The process of working with the orphanage to adopt me was a slow process. The Mastropaolo’s, who are my adoptive family, were going to go down to Haiti to try to pick me up, but that same missionary ended up taking care of me by flying me to Miami, Florida, to see my adoptive parents. I’ve learned how to do sign language. And I have found that the deaf community at Gallaudet has been very supportive no matter what I am going through. It’s yet another challenge because being a new signer means I have to catch up. My goal is to inspire people to survive and thrive! 

Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back, would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
It has not always been an easy road coming from Haiti with struggles like homeless, sickness, malnutrition, including learning disabilities such as PTSD, hearing loss, and learning disability. I peed in a planter, ate soap and dog food, and blocks of cheese lead to trips to the toilet. I also have hearing loss in both ears which I do not know if I was born with it or it went untreated. I am hard of hearing which means I can still hear, but soft voices are not easy for me to pick up. Reading lips help me including the hearing aids that I mostly used for school. Struggled through so much including being doubted and turned down by people who refused to help me get my Haiti story out there. School and sports have not always come easy for me because I had to work harder. Also, I enjoy being weird because normal is not how I live my life. It has been blessing going through struggles knowing hard work is paying off. 

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
10% of each sale will be donated to Castera’s chosen cause … Off-The-Grid-Missions. Off-The-Grid Missions is a 501(C)3 Non-Profit Organization dedicated to providing the Deaf, and Hard-of-Hearing individuals access to life-saving resources, especially in high-risk and remote regions around the world. Each mission offers a unique set of tangible and sustainable tools for Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Relief. The team is made up of individuals from the Deaf Community who strive to not only bring light to the source of the problem but also disarm it with effective and tangible solutions. My goal is to keep getting my Haiti story out there as a way to inspire and help those that struggling through tough times. 

We’d love to hear about what you think about risk-taking?
Sports have shaped me to become an open-minded person. Before I attended Gallaudet University, I was at an all-white high school that did not really have minorities, LGBTQ, international people, hard of hearing, and deaf people. The advice I would have given my younger self to survive and thrive. I have taken a risk to learn a new language that I have never done before, and it is very unique because it’s not every day you see people use sign language. Now I am improving with sign language due to the amount of deaf hard-of-hearing people I have communicated with. Before English, I spoke Creole. I think it is great to take risk because that get me out of my comfort zone. I feel like I have made more connections. 

Pricing:

  • Gildan 5000 Heavy Cotton T-Shirt $20.00
  • Gildan Heavy Blend Hooded Sweatshirt $30
  • Bella + Canvas UNISEX Fleece Jogger $40.00
  • Yupoong 6506 Snap Back Cap $20.00
  • Columbia Zigzag™ 30L Backpack – Embroidered $70.00

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