Co-owner, Serendipity Psych: Age 35
Growing up, Dallas Pilecki said, “I always wanted to help people. I had a passion for that.”
Opening Serendipity Psych with his business partner, Ariana Avezzie, put that passion to the test, due to some unfortunate timing: three months after the counseling practice opened in Westfield in December 2019, COVID-19 shut the world down.
It was a challenge, for sure, but also an opportunity. Pilecki, a licensed mental-health counselor, used the time to create free workshops, programming, and resource handouts for the community, and built partnerships with local agencies to provide mental-health services to the elderly. Meanwhile, he started delivering services via telehealth, which has become a permanent option, all in the name of making clients feel comfortable.
“We ask people if they want telehealth, in-person, or a community visit,” he said. “We meet people where they are.”
In the years before opening Serendipity, Pilecki worked for other practices, including Baystate Noble Hospital, where he worked on an opioid task force and organized a large community event in 2019 to raise awareness and break stigma around addiction. He’s still passionate about the value of seeking help.
“Serendipity has grown from us wanting to do things our own way and taking time with people who are going through so much more than what’s diagnosed,” he said of the model he and Avezzie created, which draws on the ‘spirit, mind, and body’ emphasis of Springfield College, where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
“We’re fortunate to have done some pro bono work, and we work with local agencies on caregiver support; when someone is caring for someone with dementia or terminal illness, we offer help to the caregiver,” Pilecki said, adding that they see a wide range of clients, from children to older adults.
He compared his work to that of an “old-fashioned family doctor,” someone who takes the time to know a family’s whole story. “We want that rapport with clients. We want to know them, their jobs, what their stressors are, how they’re dealing with them. All those things matter to us.”
Getting back to that December 2019 opening, maybe ‘unfortunate’ is the wrong word for the timing. Maybe it’s the opposite of the right word.
“We were able to help people during a time when there was so much uncertainty. People didn’t know how to cope; they didn’t know what was coming next,” Pilecki recalled.
“It’s scary to trust somebody,” he added. “Maybe you’re telling us things you’ve never told anyone, but we’re here, and we’re grateful that people trust us.”