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Delray Beach
Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Helping Those Who Can’t Help Themselves

Officer Damien Ferraiolo always wanted to be a police officer. But as is the case with many people, life got in the way.

After getting an associate degree from Palm Beach State College he entered the workforce. His first job was as a bank teller at a local bank, and soon he was moving up the ranks.

He was a personal banker, mortgage lender, and within a few years, a bank account executive overseeing 21 banks.

His life seemed perfect – until the economic downturn.

It was then that Ferraiolo changed gears and become a barber in Delray Beach, coincidently across the street from the Delray Police Department.

With his caring heart, he saw the fairy dust in the ether of things.

“I always wanted to be a barber because you can make people look better, and feel better about themselves.”

Helping people look and feel better seems to be the running thread throughout Ferraiolo’s life. This drive to serve humanity propelled him to become a police officer. To make that dream come true he put himself through the Police Academy at Palm Beach State College. He passed the physical and was hired by the Delray Police Department on October 5th, 2009.

This was an auspicious day – and one sweetly seared into Ferraio-lo’s lexicon. His title is Community Outreach Officer for the Delray Police Department, and his mission is to help the less fortunate survive and thrive.

“Since I was a kid I always thought that being a police officer was a noble profession. When others run away from danger, we run toward it. I love to help people.”

That is exactly what Ferraiolo does. He also manages to do it with grace and compassion, fortitude, and finesse.

“If Damien knows someone is trying to change their situation in life, he will do anything to help them. I have seen him do incredible things to make sure people have what they need to start a new life. He has a heart of gold,” said Ezra Krieg, from the Delray Beach Initiative to End Homelessness.

Ferraiolo and partner Ariana Ciancio (a service population advocate) patrol the streets looking to help those who are without homes or down on their luck. They assist with the shower truck in Delray Beach operated by the Interfaith Committee. Ferraiolo also whips out his barber tools when necessary. “Sometimes I lend my barber-ing skills at the truck to provide haircuts for the homeless. We also make sure they have fresh underwear, socks, and clothing.”

During the pandemic Ferraiolo and his partner worked every day at the shower truck. Many of the volunteers stayed away because of the virus. But, officer Ferraiolo dove right into the epicenter of this corner of cleanliness. He also worked with the Healthcare District of Palm Beach County to get homeless people vaccinated and medically treated.

“I always try to help out the less fortunate. It brings us great joy to see people become successful, whether that means detox programs or getting them a bicycle to get around.”

One of the by-products of his good deeds during the pandemic was not what he would have ordered. But he faced it with grit and determination. “I got Covid and I was pretty sick, but I was better after eight days.”

Ferraiolo and his partner also go to the Caring Kitchen every day at lunchtime to do community outreach. Their goal is to get people off the street and into shelters or housing. “We try to make a big difference in people’s lives. We get them off the street and move them into housing so they can become fully functioning members of society. We help them get jobs, medical treatment, and help in any way we can.”

Those are not empty words. Just ask Jason Lorey, Assistant Director of The Caring Kitchen. “Damien cares deeply for the homeless community. He has the highest integrity of almost anyone I know. He is honest, compassionate and a wonderful person.”

The Delray Beach Police Department must feel the same way. Ferraiolo was Officer of the Year in 2020 as well as Officer of the Month. He’s been on the Delray Police force for 12 years and is trained in crisis intervention. One of his roles in the department is being on the Hostage-Crisis Negotiation Team.

His role in the Hostage Crisis Negotiation Team is to talk to people who may be barricaded in a home or facility. Those are the times that Ferraiolo has to rely on his natural attributes that he calls, his gift of gab and compassion.

“I became a police officer to truly help people. I am a Crisis Intervention Trained Officer and when people are in crisis situations we get them the resources they need. My training allows me to handle these situations.”

Ariana Ciancio, Service Population Advocate on the force with Fer-raiolo, has seen his actions close up. “Damien goes way above and beyond to assist those in need and it comes from his heart. He is genuine and caring.”

When not on the job Ferraiolo is the quintessential family man. He married his college sweetheart Margo and has two sons, 16-year-old Dante and 12-year-old Vincent. Their weekends are spent in the name of sports, namely soccer. The family travels to soccer games and tournaments all over Florida and beyond.

Damien and Margo are also on the move, devoted to their Co-ed Sports League. Their “pick-up” style sports league alternates between handball, soccer, and ultimate frisbee.

When not watching his sons play soccer (or hitting the ground for a frisbee) Ferraiolo can be found singing Karaoke. Though he claims he sings off-key, it would be foolish to assume that he doesn’t give it his all.

The reason is obvious.

“I have a strong work ethic. My father always told me to do the best job I can, as if every job I do is for the Lord.”

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