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PEABODY — For 13 years Maroli Licardie has been front and center as the Executive Director of Family and Children’s Services in Lynn. With her leadership, the organization has grown to help families thrive and give all the things they need to succeed in school. Thursday morning, Eastern Bank recognized Licardie for her work with its 2019 Community Advocacy Award.
“We created the community advocacy award to honor people and organizations who share our commitment to making our community a better place to live and work for all of us,” said Nancy Stager, President and CEO of Eastern Bank Charitable Foundation.
“Under Maroli’s leadership (Family and Children’s Services) has doubled in size and increased programs to meet the needs of Lynn and beyond,” said Stager, who was also 12-year past board member of Family and Children’s services. “Maroli is passionate about dispelling disparities in our communities, especially in our communities of color and immigrant populations.”
Licardie was born in Guatemala and was raised in Mexico. During her time in both countries, she saw first hand the difficulties that people had to suffer without basic human rights, adequate food, basic education and employment.
Licardie attended Tufts University, where she received a masters degree. Licardie worked at the Community Health Center in Roxbury, and the Latin American Health Institute before becoming the first Latino executive director in the 135-year history of Family and Children’s Services.
Licardie thanked both past and current board members, her staff and her family for making the work she has done possible during the organizations growing success.
“We have grown to meet the needs and the demands of the community that we serve,” Licardie said. “Over my tenure we have grown the organization, we have increased our diversity and our inclusion. Currently, 85 percent of our staff is bilingual, bicultural and live in the community.”
Some of the work Family and Children’s Services has done was on display during Thursday’s ceremony at Spinelli’s Function Facility. Angela Aguilar and Niko Passariello, both former participants in programs who now work and volunteer, spoke about their experiences.
Aguilar participated in parenting classes and support groups with her son in 2015 and now works as a family advocate and child care provider. She currently runs a Spanish new mom support group.
“I like my job because we can impact families’ lives in different ways,” Aguilar said. “We can help our community to raise our children through different issues from the neighborhood. Working in child care gave me an opportunity to grow as a person. I spend time with many kids, I like how they see you as their teacher, making them smile, learn and enjoy it. That’s what makes our job worth it.”
Passariello is a freshman at Lynn Tech. After participating in the Teen Scene program, Passariello, a straight-A student, currently is a teen mentor and volunteers at various community events.
“When I first heard about teen scene it was in the eighth grade,” Passariello said. “I thought it was going to be another program where we just sat down and did homework. But to be honest it was a safe place for us to stay and an area for us to learn and grow. What we do are things that I like which is coming together and talking about our community. “
Both are just a small example of the benefit and resources Family and Children’s Services provides for thousands in the community.
“Creating a culture of belonging, that allows all of us to maximize our potential, by creating opportunities to succeed for children, youth and families,” Licardie said. “Engaged families and individuals increase community attachment, reduce risk factors, and improve the overall health and well being of the people we serve and the community at large. That is why we are doing this work.”