Difference Maker: Jay Giordano
It is not easy to sum up just who Jay Giordano is or what he does. For one, he will not admit that he has a significant impact on the community—it’s just Jay being Jay. He wakes up and thanks the universe and god for being alive. He leaves home each morning thinking that it’s going to be a really good day. That positivity flows from Jay into every venture he takes on, whether it’s counseling or providing
interpretation services, running “Caring Dads,” or being part of his family.
His drive to provide clear communication, through translation or through counseling is part of Jay’s mission in life. He’s passionate about his role as a substance abuse counselor.”I was an at-risk youth, I was that guy. At the age of of 16, I quit high school, and started working at 14. By 15, I had tried every possible drug in Barcelona, I understand the lack of good communication with your parents can lead to substance abuse and how harming it can be to the developing brain,” Jay shares.
He takes his history and brings it with him as he sets and achieves goals. He uses his history when he listens to young people, helping them have the maximum opportunity to share their potential with society. He understands life is not a one-size-fits-all prospect. While some young people thrive with schedules and advanced learning, others need the space and time to figure things out on their own.
He sees human beings as being made up of the physical being, emotional being, mental being and spiritual being. He works with all four areas to create a strong connection—it’s by focusing on all four areas that a difference can be made.
“If you’re only working one area, it’s not going to help. You make difference by impacting all four areas,” Jay says.
One program where Jay helps make a profound difference is through Caring Dads (www.caringdads.org), “a group intervention program for men who have abused, neglected, or exposed their children to domestic violence.” He facilitates these groups in both English and Spanish. Right now, the groups are part of a court-mandated process but he sees the need for this beyond the court system—so parents don’t end up in court.
It’s about personal responsibility and flipping a switch so to speak and slowly making a change. Jay leads the group with compassion, to help the participants get rid of the shame so they are ready to make a change. It’s all based on open, honest communication.
“I try to shift the mentality from parent focused to child focus, what are their child’s needs? I ask them to think about experiences they had with their dads: ‘What did you think about your dad, How did you feel? How was your childhood?’ They start opening themselves. It’s amazing the stories I get. There’s a transition, to see how your children see you versus how would you like them to see you.” It’s about communication, relationships and shifting perspectives.
The 17-week program works. “Ninety-five percent leave group being new human beings. They really learn to take responsibility. People want to change, they want to be better,” Jays says.
“I think it takes an army, I’m giving back a little bit of what I have in myself. I know I could do way more,” Jay says, the way those who are invested in their community, their families and lives around them often say—understated and ready to take on more.
It’s not just … I want to help in many different areas, not just in the I see human beings having
When I talk about spiritually I talk about connection with others. Only working one area, not going to help, make difference by impacting all four areas.
by Heather Hower