On Thursday, October 21st, FourBlock was honored to announce Damien Bertolo as the recipient of the 2021 Victoria McGrath Service Award for his continued commitment and dedication to supporting veterans in making successful career transitions.
During his time on the FourBlock team from 2015-2018, Damien served as our New York City Program Director, Operations Director, and a Career Readiness Instructor, playing an integral role in the growth of the organization and supporting veterans in transition at both the local and national level.
Upon hearing that Damien would be the recipient of this year’s award, FourBlock NYC Fall 2015 alumna Melissa Siew, now a Private Client Banker at JPMorgan Chase & Co., wrote to FourBlock to express her gratitude for the incredible support she received from Damien when she was making her military transition, and to recognize the effort that he puts into equipping everyone around for success and building up every veteran he meets:
“Damien literally saved my life,” said Melissa of Damien’s personal impact. “I got my first job in Corporate America with his help, and I now work for a company I love…Damien has never abandoned me. He has been there by my side throughout every change, failure, and success since I’ve separated from the military. He has continued to mentor and support me even after my FourBlock cohort completed its term. He believes in me more than I believe in myself. My confidence and motivation is built on the foundation of his dedication and support. I can think of no one more deserving of this award.”
After moving on in 2018 to begin an incredible career with Accenture, Damien has continued to support veterans in transition, hosting FourBlock class sessions for participating veterans in our Career Readiness Programs across the country and helping to foster meaningful relationships between our participating veterans and Accenture employees.
Damien also serves as an active member of FourBlock’s National Leadership Council, joining a national coalition of FourBlock alumni, ambassadors, and community leaders who provide strategic insight and advice to FourBlock’s leadership and Board of Directors so that we can continue to serve more transitioning veterans and military spouses in the years to come.
“You continue Victoria’s legacy in how you live day-to-day and how you help others,” said Mike Abrams, Founder and President of FourBlock, when presenting Damien with his award. “I’m sincerely grateful for everything you’ve done for me, for FourBlock, and for all of our veterans.”
The Victoria McGrath Service Award is named in memory of Victoria McGrath, a remarkable FourBlock volunteer who was severely injured in the Boston Marathon Bombing. Moved by the care that she received from first responders, several of whom were veterans, Victoria was inspired to give back to the veteran community as part of her rehabilitation. Victoria volunteered as a FourBlock coach for several of our Career Readiness Program cohorts in Boston, attending the weekly classes and working with veterans individually to ensure each of them were successful in beginning meaningful new careers.
In a powerful acceptance speech, Damien reflected on Victoria’s work with FourBlock and the incredible impact she made during her time as a volunteer for FourBlock’s Boston Career Readiness Program:
“Out of this trauma experience that she had, the first thing she did was figure out how to relate it into how to help others,” said Damien, referencing Victoria’s innate sense of compassion and service. “We were lucky enough to have her be a part of [FourBlock] and to have her influence on a FourBlock cohort.”
In 2016, Victoria was tragically killed in a car accident, leaving behind a legacy of determination, kindness, empathy, and service to others. The Victoria McGrath Foundation was created in 2018 by the McGrath family to honor Victoria’s memory and her commitment to bringing hope and care to vulnerable and underserved people.
In her memory and to ensure her works continues, FourBlock established the Victoria McGrath Service Award in partnership with Victoria’s family. It is awarded annually to an individual, team, or organization who embodies the commitment, service, and compassion that Victoria brought to everything she did. Typically awarded each year at our annual reception, we were honored to present this year’s award during our live virtual MRE cook-along event.
“I think Victoria would be absolutely thrilled to see the success of FourBlock,” said Jill McGrath, Victoria McGrath’s mother and Founder of the Victoria McGrath Foundation. “That success is achieved through leadership, integrity, and a spirit of volunteerism which is what the Victoria McGrath Service Award is all about.”
Thank you to the Victoria McGrath Foundation and the McGrath family for their continued support of FourBlock and the veterans and military spouses we serve. For more information on the Victoria McGrath Foundation’s incredible work to continue Victoria’s legacy, please visit victoriamcgrath.org.