Guarinello marks 45 years at HeartShare
Agency helps the developmentally disabled
In an era when employees can expect to work for several different companies throughout their lifetimes, Bill Guarinello stands out.
Guarinello is marking his 45th year working for one employer — HeartShare Human Services of New York.
In his spare time, Guarinello serves as chairman of Community Board 11 in Bensonhurst.
Based at 12 Metrotech Center, HeartShare Human Services of New York serves developmentally disabled people and their families.
“While 45 years is a long time, I was just doing my job,” Guarinello said. “I feel blessed because the pace and complexity of improving people’s lives in partnership with government, corporate sponsors and community organizations has kept my work incredibly engaging and interesting. I also have the privilege of working alongside people who are developmental disability and child welfare experts. I’m humbled to work alongside such extraordinary people.”
HeartShare recently held an Employee Recognition Dinner where 243 people who have worked there for many years were honored for their records of service to the agency.
Guarienllo’s HeartShare career began in 1970, when he got a job as a social worker for the nonprofit agency, which was then called the Catholic Guardian Society of Brooklyn and Queens.
The manner in which New York state treated the developmentally disabled was about to undergo a profound change.
In 1972, TV journalist Geraldo Rivera, in a series of shocking reports, revealed squalid living conditions for developmentally disabled people at Willowbrook, an institution located on Staten Island.
Rivera’s Willowbrook reports led to lasting changes in the way New York state treats the developmentally disabled.
At the Catholic Guardian Society, Guarinello helped develop new programs to serve the vulnerable population.
In 1977, the Catholic Guardian Society opened its first group home for young men with developmental disabilities.
The agency expanded its mission, establishing more residences, along with early childhood centers, an evaluation center, adult day programs and family support programs.
Guarinello was named executive director of the Catholic Guardian Society in 1985. He was named president and CEO of the agency in 1993.
The agency eventually changed its name to HeartShare Human Services of New York.
The organization celebrated its centennial in 2014. It is now a $150 million agency with more than 100 program locations, serving developmentally disabled clients and their families in Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island and in 60 of the 62 New York counties.
Under Guarinello’s leadership, HeartShare established its three affiliates — HeartShare Wellness in 2000, The HeartShare School in 2007 and HeartShare St. Vincent’s Services in 2014 — which resulted in it becoming the third largest child welfare agency in New York City, according to HeartShare officials.
“From the expose of horrific conditions at Willowbrook to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, HeartShare always responds to the needs of the community,” Guarinello said.
In addition to his role as chairman of Community Board 11, Guarinello serves as president of the Fort Hamilton Citizens Action Committee, a group of civic and business leaders who work to improve ties between the U.S. Army Garrison at Fort Hamilton and the surrounding community.
The fort is located in Bay Ridge.
Guarinello has also served on the boards of the Interagency Council of Developmental Disabilities Agencies, the Boy Scouts of America and the Brooklyn Developmental Disabilities Council and as president of the Visitation Academy Fathers Club.
To learn more about HeartShare, visit www.heartshare.org.
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