By Ginger DeShaney
When Boston Police Sgt. Gino Provenzano enters the Condon Community Center, it’s like Norm walking into Cheers. Everyone knows Gino’s name and greets him by giving him fist bumps, respect, and love.
About four years ago, Gino started coming down to the Condon on Saturday mornings dressed in his street clothes to play basketball with the kids. He would give up his own time on Saturday mornings and forge personal relationships with the Condon kids. Now, outfitted proudly in his latest Condon hoodie, Gino jumps in and keeps score for the basketball league. He’s an avid cheerleader for the kids.
From Day 1, Gino connected seamlessly with the Condon kids; his kind and unassuming demeanor resonated with them immediately. Gino describes the kids at the Condon as fun, energetic, and hopeful.
One day Gino came in his full BPD uniform and some of the kids didn’t even recognize him. They never knew what “G” did for a living, however, it was too late, because they enjoyed his company so much and had accepted him as one of their own. “They love him. He is the epitome of what successful community policing looks like,” said Debra Flaherty, Staff Assistant, BCYF Condon Community Center.
Gino remembers that day. “Some of them were shocked when they finally saw me in the uniform,” he said, noting he’s in street clothes most of the time at the Condon. “I’ve been received really well. I can’t tell you how gratifying it is to have all the positive interactions with the kids. It’s a nice feeling.”
For his tireless commitment and dedication to the youth of South Boston, Gino is being recognized with the 2022 Person of the Year award at the Condon CC Fall Friendraiser on Nov. 1 at Amrheins. The Condon CC serves thousands of youths, teens, seniors, and families, providing important social, educational, athletic programming and resources.
“It’s quite an honor,” Gino said. “It was a nice surprise when I got the word about it.”
Since those first days in the gym, Gino has gone on field trips with the kids, brought in resources, taken the kids to the Harvard Club and Fenway Park, nominated Condon students for Pizzi college scholarships, instilled the importance of academics along with sports, arrived countless times with the BPD ice cream truck, delivered turkeys, offered Shop with a Cop opportunities, and so much more.
“Gino understands our kids really appreciate someone who is going to show up. He realizes that stability is a significant thing for them. It’s important our kids know that someone is committed to and invested in them,” said Barbara Kelly, Program Supervisor at the Condon CC.
Gino has been working closely with the Condon Community Center staff since 2018 while serving under the BPD Bureau of Community Engagement. “We have enjoyed a great partnership and have been able to see some really positive results,” he said. “It’s a great little tightknit group …. almost like a little family. I’m very honored to be getting it [the award], but [the Condon staff] should be getting the recognition — they do the work day in and day out,” Gino said.
Gino started volunteering as a police officer by connecting services and programs for kids and seniors. “It was a natural fit at the Condon. What they need most is opportunities. So that’s what we’re trying to connect them with; to show them there are opportunities and that we can help them reach their goals,” said Gino.
“He just gave of himself to this center and [the kids] responded,” Barbara said. “Their enjoyment, their excitement, their new experiences … he enjoys every moment of that,” Debra added.
Gino’s wife, Susan, is very supportive of his work at the Condon. “We can always count on both of them to be there and support us, to help out,” Barbara said, noting that Gino is also a familiar face at the Condon CC senior events throughout the year.
“The Condon kids and staff aren’t the only ones who love Gino — our whole town does,” Barbara said. Gino’s parents, John and Kathy, instilled a strong sense of community in their children – Gino, John, and Lisa.
“I’ve been very lucky that I’ve had this opportunity through my position in the police department,” Gino said. “It’s very gratifying. I’m humbled by getting an award for what I’m supposed to do. But I enjoy it and I look forward to continue doing it.”
The Condon Community Center’s Fall Friendraiser will be held Tuesday, Nov. 1 from 5-8 p.m. at Amrheins Restaurant. Tickets are $25 (Venmo @CondonCCC). Funds raised will go toward programming for the CCC. There will be light refreshments, a cash bar, and raffles.