It was a during conversation years ago with a close friend that Daniel Simonelli knew he would make a good social worker.
“There was no turning back ever since that day,” said Simonelli.
After that fateful conversation, Simonelli, 27, a Bethel native, would go on to get a degree in social work with a minor in communications from Western Connecticut State University. During his senior year, he was granted an internship with a community support program as a case manager. Halfway through the internship he was hired to take on his own clients, who were adults with chronic and severe mental illnesses.
Today, he is Easton’s new Municipal Agent and Social Services Coordinator working with all age groups from young family members the senior population in Easton. He was hired in August to replace Alison Witherbee, who has started a new position outside of Easton.
“I’ve told everyone here that they’ve made my transition into this role a lot easier,” said Simonelli. “Everyone here has been great in terms of what I do.”
As the Social Services Director, Simonelli helps with a variety of programs and initiatives, including Easton’s Here to Help, fuel assistance through Alliance for Community Empowerment, before and after care for working parents through Easton Park & Recreation Department, summer camps, and the town’s food pantry.
Simonelli took on the new job because he sees it is a natural next step in his career. He likes the freedom of operating programs in the town, like a recent “Lunch and Learn” event where seniors attend educational classes.
“What drives me is the joy that comes outside of it, that positive reaction that you get from people for helping them through their situations,” said Simonelli. “Getting to learn about what people are going through and help them get to the other end of it is really what I love about it.”
Easton’s Board of Selectman appointed Simonelli to his new job.
First Selectman David Bindelglass said he knew Simonelli would be perfect for the job.
“His caring and enthusiasm struck me right at the beginning and made me think he would be wonderful,” said Bindelglass. “So far he has been.”
In the past, the municipal agent position was focused on Easton’s seniors, but Simonelli is passionate about expanding his services to all ages and family members. Easton’s Here to Help is a program that Simonelli helps assist for younger folks who are dealing with mental illnesses.
“That entire program is growing,” said Bindelglass of Easton’s Here to Help. “I hope that’ll be fruitful for us in dealing with younger people and families.”
Like every job, there are challenges. Throughout the past few months, Simonelli has begun to tackle his demanding agenda.
“It’s about being able to be detail-oriented and making sure you know when people come in for something that you get them set up so they can be alright, that their documents get submitted in a timely manner, and you coordinate with clients to make sure their forms are submitted and approved,” said Simonelli.
Simonelli said the most rewarding part of the job is being able to help people and make a real difference in their lives.
“Everyone is very appreciative of the help I’ve been able to give them and that’s what makes this job very much worth it, the joy you get to bring people,” said Simonelli.