CHARACTER IN LEAD - Justin Pasquariello
Justin is the Executive Director of East Boston Social Centers, a non-profit organization on paper, but to him an extended family, a vision of an organization in “living form”. East Boston Social Centers is a big family and has a leader who embodies the true purpose and mission of this organization. EBSC has many families who have participated, played, volunteered, and worked as members of the Social Centers community.
To see beyond what you see is a natural trait of Justin’s and we are pleased to feature him for his character trait of being a “Visionary”.
Justin has a big picture approach and a passion to foster joy. It’s not an easy task. At his core, he believes that joy can transform our world. He defines joy as “having general emotional wellbeing: not always being happy, but recognizing that life has its ups and downs”. He knows that even in our sad times, being present and resilient is part of recognizing joy. To explain this further, he understands that joy comes in active participation in the moment, regardless of what that moment holds. It is the beauty to find inspiration with every interaction.
His personal inspiration comes from his wife and kids. He sees the blessings of family moments which regardless of context of the day, or moment inspire him to continue on his mission and vision. His focus is to spread the word and work of joyful living in community and to make the ripple effects of the start of joy from SELF, to joy of family, to a joyous community and to a joyful world.
“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be
the source of your joy. “
-- Thich Nhat Hanh
Justin speaks extremely highly of his personal relationships. His social circle and list of individuals from his family who inspire him ranges from his parents, to his wife, to his children to his siblings, nieces and nephews, and friends. If we were to characterise these individuals whom we’ve identified as inspirations to Justin, they would possess love, joy, presence, smiles, commitment, fun, humility, resilience, generosity and communication. Justin is grateful for his community of friends and family and co-workers who always inspire him to do his best, and be his best.
Professional inspiration for Justin comes from a mentor who taught him to listen extensively. In silence and attentive listening, we find lessons. This same mentor taught him the importance on building long-term relationships and methods of building the best possible teams. He also showed him the way to enhance the visionary sense of seeing beyond what’s easy and comfortable and rising to your best-self. Justin recognizes that living into these traits he sees in his family, friends, and mentors is a lifelong journey; he’s not there yet.
It is most notable that Justin gets impressed not by things but by actions. He firmly believes that being present in the moment is one of the primary factors of connecting with individuals, therefore, no technology interruptions and no negativity. He believes that self-care is essential to being able to care for others, therefore, his wellness activities include running, yoga, meditating and aspires to make his food choices healthy.
He truly enjoys traveling and trying new food. When asked about a memorable trip, he highlights his travels in Scotland, which allowed him to experience hospitality, generosity and warm treatment from friends of his aunt, and defines this as what stood out from his experience in Scotland, in addition to the beauty of the European landscape.
Justin and his wife are proud to support the East Boston Social Centers--and community partner agencies in East Boston and beyond. Among other organizations, they support Silver Lining Mentoring, where Justin serves on the board. Silver Lining Mentoring serves some of society’s most marginalized people: youth in foster care and those who have recently aged out. These are youth with huge potential, and one finds over and over again that they have a deep desire to make the world a better place.
Justin believes that we have a choice about how human societies develop in the future. Globally, people are living longer than ever before; and we are generally making progress toward a more peaceful future. At the same time, there is so much more to be done and there are new and emerging challenges. Justin envisions humanity working together to overcome these obstacles and continue to build more joyful societies.
East Boston Social Centers’ roots go back at least 101 years, and in some ways, much further. In the original settlement house movement, of which they are a part, people from wealthier backgrounds and areas came to live, or settle, in urban areas to deliver educational, public health, and social services. They were pioneers in these areas and made an important difference--but at times, some didn’t understand the strengths of the communities into which they were coming/ they believed they needed to teach those communities “a better way.” Over time, the Social Centers became a more grassroots organization, led by and for the communities it serves.
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members."
– Coretta Scott King
The East Boston Social Centers is a second home in the community. It is a place where people can come to foster long and strong relationships; to live a piece of their purpose; and to have fun. With a wide variety of programs and services for people and families across the lifespan, there are many opportunities to connect with the Social Centers. With a web of relationships across their communities, they provide a place for connection to other programs, services, and opportunities. EBSC impacts nearly 600 people per day through both direct programming and their role as a gathering space in the community.
This wonderful organization is representative of the many facets of diversity in the communities of East Boston, Chelsea, Revere, and Winthrop. East Boston and Chelsea have among the largest foreign-born population in Massachusetts--and the people EBSC serves are reflective of that diversity. Most of the programs and services are open to all and particularly focused on ensuring those from low-income households have access to the high-quality programming offered.
Over the years, East Boston has changed from a port of entry for multiple immigrant groups to a predominantly Italian-American community, to a community with immigrants from all over the world. Yet, through all the change, EBSC has continued to offer quality care, a family feel, support and community connections it fosters for so many.
A bit about the people who make this happen at EBSC, Justin through his visionary depth, in partnership with incredibly dedicated staff, board and extended community, all pursue continued success in bringing joy and wellbeing to many communities. Recently, EBSC celebrated a 100th anniversary Gala evening: an event which derived its success from the hard work and dedication of event co-chairs, honorary co-chairs, committee, honorary committee, board, staff and volunteers. Nearly 500 people were in attendance, celebrating the impact this organization has had in so many lives, and in its communities --driven by hardworking, dedicated and talented staff.
It truly is easy to see material things with our own eyes, but it takes a special type of a person to rejoice in the beauty of others’ actions, deeds, hard work. It takes a visionary like Justin and his complete surrounding family, community and EBSC’s honorable mission to make it happen.
Here’s to JOY! May it always live within us, our families, our communities, our country and our world. Cheers to JOY to humanity.
Stay True to Character Justin.