Not many people in East Boston knew Greg Bertolino but the Gloucster native and former Chanel Fish employee left a lasting mark on the community.
Bertolino died unexpectedly last October at the age of 37 but had a core group of friends in Eastie that cherished his loving spirit and saw him as an unselfish giver of his time and energy.
On Saturday, family, friends, and former co-workers of Bertolino joined together to celebrate one of his lasting contributions to our community.
Bertolino, while an employee at Channel Fish, helped Empower East Boston’s Deysi Gutierrez build a free pantry in Eagle Square with food, books and clothes for people to leave and take. The pantry is officially registered on the little library registrar and became the first free pantry/library combo in Boston.
Since its inception, Chanel Fish owner, Lou Silvestro, commented that people use it all the time everyday.
On Saturday the pantry was formally named in his honor and people who gathered brought non perishable food.
At the dedication the Bertolino family, which included Bertolino’s brother Chris and his parents Marguerite Mater and Skip Bertolino, addressed the community with thanks and praise and noted working at Channel Fish and living in the Eastie community were both points of healing for their brother and son.
At the event, City Councilor Lydia Edwards, who was in a relationship with Bertolino, recalled their first date in Eastie.
“It was at the East Boston Community Soup Kitchen,” said Edwards. “I wanted to see his heart. He loved it and I fell in love with him. The free pantry is a constant opportunity to give and show love in Greg’s name. He built it and people will always have some respite, comfort, food and clothes.”
Soup Kitchen founder Sandra Nijjar remembered how after Bertolino’s first visit to the Soup Kitchen with Edwards he became a regular volunteer and a friend.
Edwards then read Epitaph by Merrit Malloy. The poem ends with, “Love doesn’t die/People do. So, when all that’s left of me/Is love/Give me away.”