Person of the Week
An Advocate for the Community’s Youth, and for the Community
Dave Melillo is settling in nicely in his office in the Clinton Town Hall Annex. He’s the town’s new director of youth services, and he brings 33 years of experience filling the same role in Madison. (Photo by Eric O’Connell/Harbor News | Buy This Photo)
David Melillo has only been the director of human services in Clinton since June, but he’s no stranger when it comes to the role.
“I’ve been in youth services almost my entire career,” David says.
In his day-to-day role, David is responsible for organizing the department, supervising his colleagues, and preparing budgets.
“A lot of my work is helping the people I supervise to be the best they can,” says David. “I was very impressed by how good the programming was in Clinton.”
Prior to his arrival in Clinton, David held the same job serving Madison for 33 years. David enjoyed his time in Madison, where he was the inaugural hire for the role. During that time, David got to experience the growth of the agency, and enjoyed the creativity and programming work in which he was able to partake.
“When you are the head of a youth service bureau, it’s a great opportunity to look at what’s affecting the community,” David says.
David attended the University of Connecticut and Southern Connecticut State University. He says he always knew he’d make a career out of helping people, he just thought it’d be a different career.
“I always cared about people, but I thought I’d be the next TV lawyer,” David jokes.
David made it through one year of pre-law classes before he decided that the major wasn’t for him. Instead, David found psychology was more up his alley. David worked for a time as a counselor and enjoyed it, but he found that work on the municipal level was what he preferred.
In December 2015, David decided it was time to move away from his role and try something new. David worked for a time at the Grove School in Madison and at a hospital, but says “part of me was really missing in being in this kind of job.”
“I decided to try something different, and I did, and I’m back,” David says.
“The past three months has been getting to know Clinton,” David says on his time in the office so far.
David describes himself as a hands-on director who enjoys getting involved with different aspects of the service. David says a special thrill for him is “when you see a problem someone is having and you help them. That’s where it’s rewarding.”
Currently, David is working to get a boy’s council group off the ground at The Morgan School—David is hoping to get the group started this month. David says there are several groups for girls at the school, and that he wanted to do one for boys as well. The group, for boys in the high school, will meet during the school day and seek to build leadership, trust, and self esteem.
Parents and guardians of boys who might be interested in the program should contact Tyler Webb, the assistant principal at The Morgan School. His email is email@example.com.
At the other end of the age spectrum, David says, First Selectman Christine Goupil has asked him to investigate different avenues to help Clinton seniors. During his time in Madison, David helped create a transportation service for seniors—because living in the area can be a hassle without a car. The service allowed the seniors to retain the ability to do things without having to own or drive a car.
David does admit that there are times his job can be difficult. Prior to his arrival in Clinton, the department had been without a director for several months. As a result, David says there were “bumps” that needed to be smoothed out when he took the job.
David also says that sometimes the bureaucracy in towns, such as going before different boards and commissions to get their approval for initiatives, can become tiresome. David notes, however, that that is the case everywhere he’s been and that his time in Clinton so far has been going well.
David has several local connections. He originally grew up in East Haven and has lived in Guilford now for more than 20 years.
When not working, David enjoys spending time in the garden, seeing family, and playing games. David is an avid sports fan, and has several pieces of memorabilia in his office in the Town Hall Annex.
“I’m a Yankees fan and a big UConn Men’s and Women’s fan. I get very absorbed in college basketball season and I’m feeling like the men will have a resurgence this year,” David says.