Mallory DePalermo: Getting With the Program
When it comes to finding a way to support the kids and families of Westbrook, Mallory DePalermo, the program coordinator for Westbrook Youth and Family Services (WYFS), is committed to finding something for everyone.
The WYFS website describes its mission in part as “…to support and strengthen the youth and families of Westbrook and surrounding communities through coordinating and providing a comprehensive delivery system of prevention, intervention, treatment and follow-up services.”
Mallory says that most people come to the office for therapy needs or counseling services. She isn’t a therapist, but she plays an important role in helping the community as program coordinator.
“I create programs for Westbrook and the surrounding towns. I also create different groups for things people feel need support. I get ideas from the community and then make a group for it,” Mallory says.
Mallory started with the department in December 2022 after four years of teaching human services at Albertus Magnus College. She had taken time off following the birth of her daughter when the opportunity in Westbrook caught her eye.
“I was looking at jobs, daydreaming, then I saw the job and thought it sounded awesome. My family and friends then encouraged me to apply,” Mallory recalls.
For Mallory, the new job was right up her alley. “I didn’t actually know this type of job exists, but I saw the qualifications, and the description was exactly the kind of job I wanted where you get to be creative, and it was challenging but not overwhelming. It was great,” she says.
For Mallory, the mix of flexing her creative muscles while also helping and working with people is the best part of the job.
“I love that creativity is a part of the job, like when I need to make flyers or advertise the programs, and you can think outside the box,” she says.
In fact, it’s nearly impossible for Mallory to think of a downside to her job. “I love every second of my job,” she says while describing her day as a “time warp” where she gets so focused on her work she doesn’t realize how fast the day goes.
“It can be a bit hard to get word about the programs out there,” she does confess.
Right now, WYFS has different programs, such as a weekly hiking challenge on Wednesdays and stroller walks on Thursdays, where parents and grandparents can socialize while walking in Hammonasset.
However, Mallory is excited to announce the department has some upcoming events as well. “On May 6, from 10 a.m. to noon, we have a gardening event where we provide the plants and tools,” Mallory says. The event takes place at the WYFS office at 1163 Boston Post Road.
On May 10, the department is also hosting a virtual event to support the mental health of those who work in the medical profession. A link to the event is on the department website, www.wyfs.org.
Mallory says beyond those two upcoming events, she’s also working on other programs like a body neutrality class, writing conferences, art classes, a bird-watching group, and a seminar on raising tough kids in tough times.
“I’m really excited for these,” she says.
Mallory encourages anyone who has a good idea for additional programs to email her at email@example.com.
“I want people to feel comfortable reaching out if they need something,” Mallory says. For example, after a conversation with someone led her to realize how many first-generation immigrants call Westbrook home, Mallory has applied for a grant that, if awarded, would allow for some resources to help first-generation families.
Mallory grew up in Westbrook and has come back to the area after spending time elsewhere in the country.
“It’s really good to be back in Westbrook,” Mallory says early into a recent conversation with the Harbor News.
In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, doing arts and crafts, looking for sea glass, and spending time with her kids.
Even though she now calls Old Saybrook home, the small-town charm of Westbrook isn’t lost on her.
“I love that there’s beaches here. I love that you can go places and see people you know because it’s such a small town, and everyone is really nice,” Mallory says.