Living the Mission

"We Are Just Servants Carrying Out His Work"

Jan Triglione '76 doesn't just sell houses, she helps others turn needed shelter into livable homes.

By Caroline Cataldo '12


Art and Jan Triglione '76 (center), stand among donated home furnishings with volunteers Jack Harrington (far left), Celeste Colvin (third from left) and Paula Goss (far right), along with high school students lending a hand in the Mission of Deeds warehouse in Reading, Mass.


Jan Minichiello Triglione '76 was in the first class of women to graduate from Holy Cross, paving the way for decades of female graduates. She made her mark on the then male-dominated campus by coordinating the Big Sister program through Student Programs for Urban Development (SPUD) alongside the Big Brother program already run by Peter Reilly '74. Her involvement  helped Triglione realize how serving others would play an important role in her life: "I still remember my little sister, Tina, and hope that my efforts to be her friend made a difference in her life. Knowing her made a difference in mine," Triglione observes. "It helped me decide that I wanted to live my life helping others who are in need."

Now, as a professional with an established career (she is the owner of Premier Realty Group, Inc., a boutique real estate company in Reading, Mass.), Triglione has found a place that brings together both of her vocations: Mission of Deeds. Tucked away off Main Street in Reading, the nonprofit organization provides the most basic household items to vulnerable families and individuals-and stands ready to collect and distribute items such as place settings, tables and chairs, bed frames and children's books.

Mission of Deeds is a nondenominational, faith-centered organization that operates solely through the dedication of its staff and more than 100 volunteers who provide the organization's clients with the best possible interior furnishings.

Mission of Deeds was founded in 1993 by Triglione's late father-in-law, Tony Triglione, who realized that, although housing for the disadvantaged in Massachusetts can often be found, assistance in making a home functional, livable and stable is not as easily accessible.

As the development chair of Mission of Deeds, Jan Triglione helps push the nonprofit forward. Noting that many in the current generation of homeowners have a disposable attitude when it comes to household items, she states: "My professional real estate relationships have proved to be a tremendous resource for donations of furniture and household items"-adding that she gets leads for donations from her own clients as well as those of fellow Realtors, lenders and attorneys in Middlesex and Essex counties.

Triglione, along with her husband, Art, remains committed to continuing Tony Triglione's legacy, one that has its feet firmly planted in a "theory of change."

"It is the understanding that disadvantaged individuals with secure homes have a better chance of successfully rebuilding their lives and becoming productive members of our communities," she says. "Providing such basic home necessities to families has an immediate and positive impact on their lives." By building relationships with more than 200 social service agencies, Mission of Deeds has grown from 27 households served in its first year, to 720 in 2011.

Adhering to a commitment that every client be treated with respect and personal courtesy, Mission of Deeds staff first meet with potential clients in an interview room furnished with cherry furniture (a gift from a consulate in Boston when the organization moved to its new headquarters). Once cleared by a social service agency and the Mission of Deeds staff, the clients are then invited into the primary warehouse, which has a furniture store atmosphere, with pieces displayed according to type and placed along open aisles for easy accessibility and removal. At the end of each appointment, the client is offered a crucifix and a card that reads, "Remember it is the Lord who has made all this possible. We are just His servants, carrying out His work."

Staying true to her Holy Cross roots, Triglione comments on her dedication to the poor: "There is nothing glamorous about this type of work, but there are huge rewards in the outcome. Knowing that your efforts have enabled individuals in dire straits to have the opportunity to move forward personally in their lives, re-establish their physical house and find hope that they can achieve balance and stability is great." She credits fellow pioneering classmates and her Holy Cross experience for providing the background she needed to succeed in her nonprofit work: "I learned so much from all of them and had wonderful academic, cultural and social opportunities that played an integral part in making me who I am today," Triglione shares.

With the recent completion of a two-year capital campaign-resulting in $500,000 that allowed the organization to double its floor space-Triglione and the Mission of Deeds family hope to continue building their reputation in the community by providing a necessary service to all those who seek it.  ■