Sunday, September 20, 2020

Person of the Week

For Jackie O’Neill St. Peter, It’s About Helping Others and Family

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Jackie O’Neill St. Peter is the area director for Business Network International and involved in many different ways of helping others. Photo courtesy of Jackie O’Neill St. Peter

Jackie O’Neill St. Peter is the area director for Business Network International and involved in many different ways of helping others. (Photo courtesy of Jackie O’Neill St. Peter )

Jackie O’Neill St. Peter has always looked for ways to help people. She and her husband grew up in East Haven where many in her family still live. When they were looking for a home, they knew they wanted to stay close to their hometown and with two children at the time, the couple settled in North Haven, where they’ve lived for nearly two decades.

Jackie and her husband, Gary, have three children, who are now 25, 21, and 19. The couple began St. Peter’s Construction, which they recently renamed St. Peter’s Home Services to offer more handyman services. Jackie manages the phones, billing, and marketing, while her husband performs the services.

While Jackie enjoys helping her husband with his business, she knew she wanted to do more to help others. She had previously worked as a psychiatric counselor in Florida for 10 years and in 2001, she decided to open her own healthcare agency in North Haven.

“My thing is I want to help everybody and homecare seemed to be a great way to be able to help,” says Jackie. “In my family, I was always the one who took care of older family members and I was always the one people called to come and help, so when my husband and I talked about opening a homecare agency, it seemed like a natural thing to do.”

In 2006, Jackie’s uncle suggested she join Business Network International (BNI) to help her grow her business and build a network. BNI is a business networking group that meets weekly. According to BNI.com, the group has more than 270,000 members in 9,500 chapters worldwide.

Jackie’s homecare business did grow, though ultimately it became too big and Jackie was no longer enjoying it. In 2008, she closed her business and took a job with Comfort Keepers, another homecare agency, working under owner Carol Carbutti.

“There was something between us that just clicked—she looked like my grandmother and something just felt right,” says Jackie. “I was helping her run her agency and I’d stepped back into what I’d just gotten out of. We talked a lot and she suggested I become a realtor.”

While Jackie had no experience with real estate, Carbutti was also an owner of Carbutti & Company Realtors with offices in Wallingford and Branford. Though Jackie had always worked in the healthcare field, she decided to give it a try and while Carbutti had initially suggested that Jackie try it for two years, that was now 10 years ago. Carbutti’s son Jonathan has since taken over the office.

“The Carbuttis are an awesome family and Jonathan is an incredible guy who continues to make his business better every single day,” says Jackie, who recently introduced her son to the business. “He passed the test and is just waiting on his license.”

Jackie has continued to find the benefits of being involved in BNI. Over the years, she moved into the position of director of the chapter and is now the area director, managing 20 chapters in Connecticut throughout the shoreline area.

“I’ve been with BNI through all of it and it’s helped to build those businesses and introduce me to great people,” says Jackie. “As area director, I helped the local chapters grow and help spread awareness about what it means to be in BNI for any business. For a small cost and time, you have a ton of people—anywhere from 25 to 50 in a chapter—who will spread the news about your business. I love helping people be able to grow their businesses and the amount of extraordinary people I meet. I love hearing their stories, how they came to do what they do, and being able to help them grow.”

She found a way to share those stories after a Shoreline East BNI member showed her the local magazines he had created for the community and suggested she do the same in North Haven. She decided to give it a try, founding North Haven Neighbors magazine. She ran it for two years before Chris Migliaro took over. The monthly magazine shared news from local businesses as well as the accomplishments of local students.

“It seemed like a fun thing to do,” says Jackie. “I loved the part that helped businesses get the word out about them and talking to people, finding out what they do, but you had to sell the ads and after two years that got to me.”

While she is no longer involved in the magazine, she still is active on the North Haven Neighbors Facebook page. She also created the North Haven Buzz community page on Facebook, which has more than 1,000 members.

“North Haven Buzz is a way for me to still write and call attention to the great things going on in town and help the community and businesses come together to help each other,” says Jackie. “It came out of wanting to give people a place to ask questions, get recommendations, help the people in town, and give them an outlet to vent or get answers.”

She found that the page was especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic with many businesses struggling. The COVID-19 pandemic also allowed Jackie and her partner, Kirstin Olszewski, at Carbutti & Company to develop Carbutti Cares.

The mission statement of the program, according to carbutticares.com, is to “provide service and give back to those who are on the front lines every day.” Through the program, which is available to military, firefighters, police officers, emergency medical personnel, nurses, and teachers, Carbutti Cares has “put together a team of experts to assist our Connecticut heroes through the home buying process and beyond.”

Though the pair had begun to discuss the idea, it came to fruition due to the needs presented by the pandemic. Olszewski’s husband is a firefighter in Guilford and Jackie’s father, brother, and sister have all made careers in law enforcement.

“Living with people in these professions, we realize they don’t have normal schedules and they need someone to work with their schedules—we get that because we live it,” says Jackie. “Police and fire were definitely on our radar, but then with the pandemic, we also saw the need to help the healthcare workers and schoolteachers. Jon’s parents are both retired schoolteachers so it made sense and all came together.”

This isn’t the first time Jackie has volunteered to help better the community. As her children were growing up, she was involved in their activities, volunteering and fundraising. Her son and youngest daughter both played hockey and her oldest daughter was a synchronized ice skater.

“It all comes back to wanting to help people,” says Jackie. “It’s all about helping the community—that’s my favorite thing to do.”


Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .

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