More than 20 years ago, when she was a teenager, Saritin Rizzuto knew she was destined to help people. In her first job as peer leader for the Department of Public Health, she worked with at-risk youth in the community, educating them about violence prevention, substance abuse and teen pregnancy. That opportunity lit a fire for “doing for others.” Her subsequent activities, both professionally and personally, reflect her commitment to improving the lives of others.
Rizzuto’s early forays into the business world took place within non-profit organizations. She has held positions at Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion, the Massachusetts Office on Disabilities, the AIDs Action Committee, CASA Myrna, DOVE, Renewal House and HarborCOV.
The shift to community relations and business development officer for Metro Credit Union has opened a new world for Rizzuto. “It’s definitely been a challenge becoming a banker, or fitting into that category,” she said.
In her current position, Rizzuto combines community organizing and relationship building to benefit low income and emerging populations. She helps individuals become economically self-sufficient through education, work skills development and money management tactics. Moreover, since Rizzuto is bilingual, she is able to forge connections, build confidence and enhance communication among the members, community organizations and the credit union.
While the work she does within the credit union is important, Rizzuto also continues to look for ways to serve the larger community. She serves on the board for several organizations, including Casa Myrna, North Suffolk Mental Health, The East Boston Social Center, the Chelsea Chamber of Commerce, Bunker Hill Community College Adult Education Advisory Board and the Hispanic American Chamber of Commerce. Most recently, she organized the 35-member Latino Small Business Coalition and invited them to join the chamber, and runs educational forums to help the group learn more about running a successful business.
Rizzuto’s ability to bring together diverse groups of people is one of her greatest strengths. “I’m a visionary, seeing things the way they should be to improve people’s quality of life and to create real solutions to poverty resulting in economic stability and a stronger overall economy,” she said. “Watching different ideas come to fruition and becoming that bridge between the public and private sector for the good of those less fortunate has been my greatest professional accomplishment.”
According to her nominator, Charlene F. Bauer, senior vice president, community relations business development at Metro Credit Union, Rizzuto is energetic, selfless, passionate and committed to helping others and has a knack for breaking down barriers and creating partnerships.
“She is a very compassionate individual! Her skills in outreach and program development are phenomenal. She has a unique talent for thinking of creative solutions to problems. Saritin is very well regarded and most definitely a pleasure to work with and have on our team,” she said. “She epitomizes the true philosophy of the credit union movement – people helping people – and is an example of integrity, leadership and community.”
Of this award, Rizzuto expresses surprise. “When you do the type of work I do, you don’t expect to be recognized for it. Every day is rewarding and I feel a sense of recognition when I see the face of opportunity, possibilities and hope in a group of people or individuals coming face to face with the reality of life, but knowing they are not alone and help is in the horizon,” she said. “Metro envisions the possibilities and capitalizes on the area of expertise I bring to help create solutions. We are a team and as that we can conquer all and make significant changes that have a positive impact on the communities we service.”