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Dutil’s Move to Senior Center Director a Smooth Transition

Jul 30, 2018 01:00PM ● By Brian Choquet

BULLETIN photo by Pauline Hamwey 

Written by KEN HAMWAY, Bulletin Staff Writer

Josie Dutil has been on the job as senior center director for two months, and she seems to have settled into her new role rather nicely.

Labeled as “a great people person” by one staff member, Dutil is acutely aware of what’s needed for success in her new role, and her primary goal is clearly defined.

“Building relationships among staff, volunteers and program participants is important,” said Dutil. “Another key is assessing what services are provided, where services are needed and how to fill the gaps with input from staff, volunteers and members.”

Dutil’s main objective, or mission, is “to bring people together who are working toward a common goal and to help the staff and volunteers fulfill their potential as we carry out our vision for being a leading elder-services provider.”

The 50-year-old Montreal native arrived in Bellingham after working as health and wellness director at the North Attleboro YMCA (part of the Hockomock area YMCA). 

Previously, she was a physical education teacher at the elementary level in Montreal before serving as sports director at the Newman YMCA in Seekonk. She’s been involved with social services at her two stops at the YMCA for 18 years.

During her time in North Attleboro, Dutil’s roles included wide-ranging functions. She was responsible for the hiring and supervision of a part-time staff of 56, and she handled group exercise scheduling. 

Other areas involved wellness floor supervision, personal training supervision, general management, maintenance of equipment, budgeting and fundraising.

Dutil, who is married and has a son, lists four key attributes that she believes are integral assets for a senior center director. 

“Enthusiasm and passion for helping others are keys to success in this job, along with being a solid leader and team builder,” Dutil emphasized. “Team-building is all about bringing people of different opinions together to work toward a common goal.”

A graduate of McGill University in Montreal, where she excelled in soccer, Dutil knows there will be a variety of challenges ahead. 

“As a people-pleaser, I understand that not everyone will always agree with all of our decisions,” she noted, “but I hope to gain the trust of our members that my intentions will always be what’s best for the Council on Aging.”

So far, Dutil, who played five varsity sports in high school, is very impressed with the staff, the facility and the programming.

“The personnel here is incredibly passionate and has been so helpful as I gain familiarity in my role,” Dutil said. “As for the facility, I love how active and vibrant it is. Programming was a large part of my job in my ‘Y’ roles over the years, and my goal is to attempt to participate in all that is offered at the senior center in the next few months to get a sense of how to market them for increased participation. I’m amazed at all the activity that occurs at the center and the number of volunteer hours that are important parts of this operation.”

Dutil, who resides in Cumberland, RI, is familiar with Bellingham because her in-laws live in town. She likes Bellingham a lot. “It’s a well-run community, and many of the residents who grew up here seem to stay in the town for a long time,” she noted.

Dutil firmly believes that her athletic background and the life lessons that sports teach have been extremely valuable in the positions she has held over the years. At LaSalle Catholic Comprehensive High school in Montreal, she was a star athlete and a captain. In college, she was a top-notch attacking sweeper (defender) in soccer.

“Sports saved my life,” she says emphatically. “It truly satisfied a competitive drive within me and made me passionate about the teams I played on. If it weren’t for athletics, there’s no way I would ever have aspired to leadership roles. I learned to be a leader on and off the fields and the courts, and I thank all of the coaches who entrusted me with leadership roles.”

Calling her parents (Maureen, 84, and Gerard, 86) role models for their support, encouragement and leadership, Dutil is Bellingham’s new senior center director because, as she says: “the timing for me was right for a career change.”

Dutil, who officially became the director in May, applied for the position after it was advertised and was hired in six weeks. On June 18, the day she started on her journey with the Council on Aging, a new era began. By all indications, she’s settling in nicely and her transition has been super smooth.


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