Justin Alessio: It’s All About Kids
“I could feel it was a good fit for me,” Justin Alessio says about working in Old Saybrook. Since May, Justin has worked as a program coordinator in Old Saybrook’s Youth and Family Services Department.
In his job, Justin does a little bit of everything.
“I do a lot of positive youth development opportunities and ways for kids to interact with each other or kids they don’t normally talk to while having fun, as well as developing strong stress management tools,” Justin explains.
When he’s not helping plan those events, Justin can often be found at the events running them, and he also sees clients for therapy sessions as well.
“I recently got my master’s in family and marriage therapy,” Justin notes.
One program that Justin is currently hard at work on is the Safe@Home event scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Old Saybrook Youth and Family Services building, 322 Main Street. The event is aimed at kids in grades 4 to 6 who may be staying home alone for the first time. Justin explains that the program will teach kids what to do while at home and how to handle different situations that may arise, such as a person coming to the door, an emergency, or a friend calling. The event is $20 for Old Saybrook residents and $25 for nonresidents. Interested participants can register at www.osyfs.org.
“It’s great for telling kids how to process the dos and don’ts and answering any questions they might have about being home alone,” Justin adds.
Even though Justin began working in town only a few months ago, he’s spent plenty of time in Old Saybrook.
“I first interned here for two years before working here in May,” Justin says.
Old Saybrook first caught his eye while he was in school and heard of the reputation of the town. “In the program I was in, there was a lot of talk that it was one of the better placements to be in. I could tell it was a good fit for me right when I got here,” says Justin.
Before he was working in Old Saybrook, Justin had long considered working with children something he wanted to pursue. “Most of my jobs have been working with kids; I taught tennis for a long time and then taught at a preschool for a year as well,” Justin says.
“It’s just something I really enjoy, and since most preschool teachers especially, are women, I really enjoyed giving boys a positive male role model as well,” he adds.
Justin says that one thing about Old Saybrook that really stuck out to him was the presence the department has in the schools.
“I love that we have a strong presence in the school in Old Saybrook. That’s pretty unique and not something that was around when I was growing up,” he says.
It’s no surprise that when asked what his favorite part of the job was, Justin quickly responded, “Working with the kids.”
“Working with the kids in the community is great. It’s hard for me to have a bad day. The kids just want to have fun and enjoy the day, and that’s always great,” says Justin.
As for the hardest part of his job, Justin says it’s balancing his ideas for new events with the time to do it.
“Doing everything I want to do is hard. We’ll come up with good ideas, but there’s only so many days in the year, so we need to hold some back,” Justin says.
Justin originally grew up in Avon and still lives there today. In his spare time, he enjoys collecting Pokémon cards, playing video games, and playing tennis. As for Old Saybrook, Justin says his favorite part of the town is the community.
“It’s a small town, so it’s very tight-knit, and it feels very collaborative, like people want to work together here,” Justin says.