Cameron and Gianna Zirpolo have a unique bond. They grew up in a family that embraces and advocates for the mental health community. They are also siblings who both work at Vinfen. The Zirpolos strongly consider Vinfen a part of their family and cannot wait to see what the future holds as they continue to develop their careers.
Growing up in a family who prioritized helping others, Cameron and Gianna knew they were destined to work in human services field. Emilio Zirpolo, their father, is Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) Director of Field Operations in the Metro Boston area, and along with his wife, set the stage for the importance of helping the community. “My wife and I love our kids very much and are extremely proud of them, and it didn’t surprise us that both of them decided to work for a non profit organization like Vinfen,” Emilio shared. “We always taught them to be thankful for what they have and to always try to help out when you can. I guess they took it to heart,” he added. The Zirpolo family deeply believes in the power of kindness and being a source of positivity in people’s lives.
Volunteering was a big component to Cameron and Gianna’s upbringing. They both fondly remember helping out at mental health community events, especially fishing trips where people were able to develop the skill of fishing and get their photograph taken when they caught something. “There was no prejudice and discrimination of mental illness. That is just how we grew up,” Cameron voiced. “Everyone is different in some way and that is okay,” Gianna added.
Cameron is Vinfen’s Program Director of Friends of Metro Boston, which is a program funded by a contract with DMH. He has been in his current role for about a year and a half now and has been employed by Vinfen since 2010. The Friends of Metro Boston was created 35 years ago by former Service Specialist Peggy McNeil and former Program Specialist Mary Sine, who both are dear friends of the Zirpolo family. Both Peggy and Mary were Cameron’s first insight into the power of Friends of Metro Boston. He is honored to continue the mission of the program in hopes to continue to enrich the lives of people. The program is one-of-a-kind because it provides opportunities for people with psychiatric conditions to participate in activities in the community with people who do not have psychiatric conditions. He enjoys assisting people with employment services, providing special moments that bring people together, and seeing the meaningful memories and friendships that evolve because of the program. “Everyone at the Friends of Metro Boston has been like a family because we see each other a lot. I have known the people I work with for years due to my father. Everyone is caring and treats me like I am their own son. We respect each other and make sure everyone is doing well. Friends is a welcoming place where we can talk about each other’s families and this makes us super close,” Cameron shared.
Gianna is Vinfen’s IT Project Coordinator, recently promoted from being an IT Helpdesk Technician. She enjoys her time at Vinfen and because she has been around the people Vinfen serves for her entire life, Vinfen feels like home to her. Gianna loves trouble shooting any IT issues, using her knowledge to help others, and is sincerely dedicated to the happiness of the people we serve by supporting the lives of direct care staff as much as possible. “I always just try putting myself in the shoes of others,” Gianna shared. “I hope in the future, I can help push certain projects to improve and make the lives of my fellow Vinfen employees easier,” she added. She is thankful for such genuine virtues of acceptance that were instilled within her early years as a child thanks to her parents.
Because they are siblings and they both adore Vinfen, there is a special connection that fastens their bond. If Cameron ever has an IT issue, he knows just who to call. If Gianna needs information on volunteer opportunities or wants to help at an event like she so often did growing up, she knows who to call. This partnership is truly unique, and they work together to further the mission of Vinfen.
Both Cameron and Gianna are huge fans of their workplace and all the services Vinfen provides to people. “I think Vinfen does a great job with seeing what the big picture is,” Cameron explained. Gianna enjoys seeing the people we serve being consistently supported and is beaming with joy when she talks about the organization and how thankful the community is for Vinfen. Cameron is grateful for his role in the organization. “Working for Vinfen has made me a better person,” he explained. His developed sense of empathy and awareness is attributed to his years of volunteering and working in mental health community. Gianna cannot say enough about how much the people we serve love Cameron. “I think the best part about working for Vinfen is having a personal connection to the people we serve. They love Cameron. They have very high respect for him” Gianna commented. Cameron and Gianna are even on the same Vinfen softball team. They are both teammates in the work place and during fun Vinfen activities.
With the recent passing of Mary Sine in April, the Zirpolo family was in mourning of such a loss of a beautiful and caring spirit. Mary had worked for Vinfen and DMH for 29 years and has been a family friend for what seems like a a lifetime. Cameron and Gianna commented on the strong presence and support of Vinfen at Mary’s funeral. “Even though Gianna and I are real family, Vinfen is like a family. Mary passed away and I never expected the first person I saw when I walk through the door to be Bruce Bird. Bruce was just standing there with his hand out welcoming everyone. Jon Murphy was there, my mom, and my dad.”
Cameron and Gianna know Vinfen will always be a part of their past, present, and promising futures ahead. Vinfen has been a constant in their lives, and all roads seem to lead back to Vinfen.