Kelly Sajous

Kelly Sajous, of Pawtucket, receives a commemorative jacket recently marking his 25th year of working with the Greater Boston Food Bank. Sajous is now a product recovery coordinator, managing several dozen volunteers.

By Leighah Beausoleil

Special to The Times

PAWTUCKET – Kelly Sajous, a Pawtucket resident, celebrates 25 years of work at the Greater Boston Food Bank this year.

“Six days a week, two shifts a day – he is always there with his smile and positive attitude,” said Cheryl Schonek, senior vice president of food acquisition & supply chain operations.

Six days a week, Sajous said he and his wife travel the two hours to Boston for another day of work – a commute they quickly grew accustomed to since moving to Pawtucket in 2001.

Though, he said his wife is less of a fan than he is.

“She will block me out sometimes,” he joked, laughing while also adding how he will be “talking about sports” while she watches Netflix, “and she’ll go, ‘Huh? You talking to me?’ She said, ‘I don’t care about sports. I just want to get home.”

Sajous said his role has changed many times since starting at the Greater Boston Food Bank, but he currently works as Product Recovery Coordinator, where he manages volunteers.

He added if it is a slow day he helps out in the warehouse.

Schonek said since the COVID-19 pandemic, Sajous oversees 30 to 40 volunteers daily, but before he would oversee as many as 50 to 100 volunteers every day.

She said she has worked with Sajous for eight and a half years.

“He is a true multi-dimensional, multifaceted player,” she added, explaining how Sajous loves to play all the different roles within the organization, helping out wherever he can even if that involves more training.

She said, “During the pandemic, we had to redeploy folks in an effort to get the food out, and he was the first one in line that said, ‘What do you need me to do?’”

Schonek said in her time working in the industry, she has seen employees who can’t wait to clock out at the end of the day. However, she added Sajous is different in that he cannot wait to clock in to work every single day.

“We are so proud to have him for the last 25 years and hope to have him for the next 25,” she added.

Schonek said there are also very few Yankees fans at the Greater Boston Food Bank.

“Kelly is a Yankees fan so we have some fun when the Yankees play the Red Sox, depending on who wins,” she said. “He has had some little toy brooms left on his desk at times after the Red Sox sweep the Yankees.”

Sajous’ said this baseball rivalry applies with his wife as well.

“We cannot watch TV together when it’s a Yankee-Red Sox [game] because she is a diehard Red Sox fan,” he

joked.

“She will be upstairs – whenever the Red Sox score she will just make a lot of noise and when the Yankees score I will take a boom and hit the ceiling,” he joked.

Sajous said his favorite part about working at the Greater Boston Food Bank is training and working with the retirees from Gillette and State Street as well as the young people from the surrounding colleges.

“It really, really makes me happy to see these people coming in,” he said. “So that’s the reason that I come in almost every day.”

He said, “Sundays are for church.”

Sajous said his day off from the Greater Boston Food Bank is Sunday, when he will go to church with his family and occasionally play soccer at a local park in Pawtucket.

He said in 2001, he and his family were looking for a house in Boston, but due to how expensive it was his wife’s brother recommended they move to Pawtucket.

He added he enjoys how quiet his neighborhood is compared to New York and Boston.

“I live in a short block, which is like seven houses,” he said. “We all know each other. We leave our doors open.”

Sajous joked about how whenever there is a car in their small neighborhood one of them does not recognize, they will call each.

Sajous said he was originally born in Haiti, but grew up in Brooklyn, New York where he found his passion for soccer.

He said upon gaining a scholarship for soccer, he attended Ulster County Community College for a year before transferring to New York Institute of Technology, where he studied electrical engineering.

In the meantime, Sajous said he had got married to his first wife and had two children. When he and his family moved to Boston in 1992, he said he intended on transferring to Wentworth Institute of Technology, but he soon realized he needed to work in order to support his family.

Sajous said after dropping out of college he began working at a temp agency, where he ended up at Polaroid, adding he needed to work 500 hours in order to be hired.

Here, he said he learned a number of new skills involving the cameras and how to fix them.

He explained the company was partnered with an organization called Inner City, that he was sent to work at.

After starting work there, Sajous said his boss told him the organization was not going to be around for much longer, but because the man liked Sajous’ work ethic, he set him up with an interview with the company next door – the Greater Boston Food Bank.

Sajous said he went to the interview and started in July 1996, and in September of that year, he was called down to the office of Catherine D’Amato, CEO and president of the Greater Boston Food Bank.

“I was kind of scared,” he said. “Why does she want to see me?

“So, when I went there Catherine said, ‘Sit down,’ and I sat down. She said, ‘The job is yours – only if you can work Wednesday nights and Saturdays,’ and she handed me a set of keys for the front door and the side door,” Sajous said. “Twenty five years later – here I am.”

Sajous’ said he loves the mission of the Greater Boston Food Bank and it is important to him because he is from Haiti where “you don’t see a lot of food.”

He explained how grateful have been given the job and to be working at the organization with others who are also supporting that mission.

“They don’t know Catherine in New York. They know her name, but they don’t know her face, and I’m always talking about Catherine saying, ‘She took a chance on me 25 years ago – look at me now.’”

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