Wednesday, September 22, 2021
74.6 F
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
74.6 F

Life for a Gig Economy Freelancer in the Pandemic: Economy Man from Italy Adapts to a New World

Editor’s Note: This article is part of’s ongoing series, “The Beaver County Coronavirus Chronicles,” the county’s historical experience of the pandemic. Click here to see more of the series.


So when the state closed schools and churches and prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people because of the highly infectious coronavirus, Fiorante, 31, found his employment opportunities evaporate.

His Italian class venue was closed, and his therapy sessions, wine tastings and concerts were canceled, including an Easter concert in Beaver and an Italian-American concert in Naples, Fla., both originally scheduled for this month.

“I’m doing stuff, but I’m not working,” said Fiorante, who estimates his income has been slashed to 5 to 10 percent of his normal income.

His wife, Gina, a visual merchandiser for IKEA, is still receiving pay from her employer, also closed. But as a freelancer, Fiorante said he is ineligible to collect unemployment. He said he is still keeping busy, doing things like checking to make sure elderly friends have groceries and other needed supplies.

One of his primary concerns is the fate of his young therapy clients, who are ages 6 to 14 and have autism or behavioral problems. Fiorante would visit their homes for therapy sessions.

“The situation for these kids is very bad,” Fiorante said. With schools closed, he said, “They are with their siblings, in a closed environment,” while schools are struggling to find ways for them to cope. Fiorante said today that he had no sessions this week with his therapy clients.

“I want to be able to do these online, but now we’ll have to train to do them,” and figure out how to follow state regulations for such sessions. Fiorante, who holds three master’s degrees, including one in the psychology of music therapy, all from an Italian university, hoped to begin electronic sessions as early as next week.

A native of the Puglia region of Italy who immigrated to the U.S. five and a half years ago, Fiorante also taught four classes in the Italian language at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Beaver, now closed. He and his wife, Gina, had hoped to have their baby son, Antonio, just over 3 months, baptized next weekend, but that event, too, had to be canceled.

His parents and two brothers remain in Italy, where Fiorante keeps in regular touch.

“I talked with my mom today. It’s three times worse (in Italy) than here. They only allow two people at a time in the grocery store,” Fiorante said. “The police and army are everywhere,” making sure everyone stays home.

In Economy, Fiorante is able to get Antonio out for daily walks.

“I live by a cemetery, so it’s easy to walk there. I’m trying to stay away from crowded places. I have to do some grocery shopping, so I have to wear a mask and gloves.”

Fiorante said the current health threat and financial situation have made him “down; I’m devastated.” But speaking about Antonio made his mood brighten.

“Antonio has a bunch of toys. He has Daddy and Mommy” around more often. “He’s the happiest one. He eats, poops and sleeps; he’s an angel.

“I’m blessed.”


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Sandra Donovan
Sandra Donovan
Sandra Fischione Donovan is a contributing reporter. She previously spent 17 years as a reporter and editor with the Beaver County and Allegheny Times and another dozen years as a freelancer for the Pittsburgh Tribune Review. She has won local and state journalism awards. A graduate of Penn State University Park, she also holds a master's degree from Carnegie Mellon University.

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