Community Development Manager, Sevita; Age 33
When asked what she loves most about her job, Giselle Gaines had trouble picking out anything she doesn’t love.
“It doesn’t feel like work,” she said. “They say if you love what you do, you won’t work a day in your life. This is a lifestyle for me.”
She was speaking about her role with Sevita, a provider of home- and community-based care for people of all ages with any number of needs. “We offer adults, children, and families high-quality services and supports that lead to growth and independence no matter what physical, intellectual, or behavioral challenges they face.”
The organization, once known as the Mentor Network, has been around for 50 years, providing services ranging from home care and adult day health to foster care and programs for children with autism. As the Community Development manager, Gaines brings new partners and new revenue streams to the company, but also serves as a liaison between the community and those services, building relationships with other healthcare professionals who can help clients.
“I feel I can relate to these families and bring my own story to them,” she said. “I have children with disabilities as well. Part of the reason I chose this vital work is to help build a world I want for my kids and other kids when they become adults.”
As the mother of four children with autism, Gaines wanted a career where she could advocate for her family and others like it. But she has a heart for serving the community in other ways, too.
A Leadership Pioneer Valley alumna and coach, she’s also the Diversity and Outreach officer for the Springfield Ward 4 Democratic Committee and worked with Springfield College staff on last year’s Be the Change event, which promoted leadership and civic engagement. She’s also a board member of Easterseals Massachusetts’ Western Mass. Regional Board; founder and board chair of the Miracle Marc Foundation, which promotes water safety; and a board member with Keep Springfield Beautiful.
She also created 413 Community Hands, a collaboration among local organizations to bring essential resources, education, and healthcare access to people and communities in need.
Why take on all that on top of her career and family? Again, she doesn’t consider it work. “I want to be the change I want to see in the world, and I strive to do that every single day.”
— Joseph Bednar