Cover Story » Vol. 2

Moe Boisvert of Y.O.U. Inc.

CEO, Athlete,Family Man
By Christine R. Walsh

Vol. 2 Cover - Moe Boisvert

Vol. 2 Cover - Moe Boisvert

Maurice Boisvert, President and CEO of Youth Opportunities Upheld, Inc. (Y.O.U. Inc.) considers himself to be your “average Moe.” He has a job about which he is passionate. He has a family he loves dearly. He is an active and go-getting 64 year-old who changes the lives of Worcester area youths each day. But behind this humble man lies a wealth of zany, beautiful and inspiring stories that make him not only even more likeable, but more wonderfully human.

“Moe. I’ve always had that name,” Boisvert says after considering the origins of his nickname. “Everybody has always called me Moe. It goes with Maurice. Only my wife and my mother-in-law call me Maurice. And my wife calls me Maurice all of the time ~ [and] not because she’s angry with me.”

Boisvert concluded that he became known as Moe somewhere during his youth, possibly around the age of 5 when he first learned to speak English after moving from Quebec, Canada to Lowell, Massachusetts.

“During the war, my father was an interpreter for the US Navy. He was stationed in Quebec and he would interview sailors as they came in from their ships as to whether or not they had seen U-Boats or whatever else they might have seen out there. He would write up reports and send them to Washington,” Boisvert remembers.

Moe

Moe

The family moved to the United States and Boisvert was put into a French-speaking school. He remembers that Lowell had a flourishing French community, complete with its own French news publication. To this day, the now grown school boy still orders publications in his native tongue in order to keep the words alive. And his multi-linguistic talents have helped in other parts of his life.

“It has really come in handy when [my wife and I] have traveled outside of the country,” says Boisvert. “I have been to quite a few French-speaking countries and the last one I went to was for work. It was in Kenya. There is a large street-kid problem in Kenya and I visited a good friend of mine who is a missionary in the Congo, where they speak a great deal of French. My knowledge really comes in very handy.”

Growing up, the Boisvert home was filled with life and rowdiness. Boisvert was the oldest of six boys.

“No girls, all boys,” laughs Boisvert. “My mother went straight to Heaven when she passed after raising six boys.”

Perhaps genetics or even karma played a part in Boisvert’s life today. He went from a home where he lived with five other boys to a wonderful home in Shrewsbury where he has lived with his wife, Pamela, for 32 years. And it just so happens that out of their four children, there isn’t a boy among them.

“We raised our four daughters in this house,” says Boisvert. “And being in Shrewsbury, we are very close to our grandkids. We see the grandkids about once or twice a week. [One of the daughters] lives in Maine, but we still see them quite often.”

Moe

Moe

Boisvert is happy to volunteer to babysit or pick up a granddaughter from ski lessons or do whatever the situation may call for. Right now, Boisvert is attempting to mentally prepare himself for the fact that one teenage granddaughter is just about ready to get her driving permit. As a man who taught all four of his daughters to drive, he is understandably anxious.

“I tell you, when you see one of your children pull out of the driveway on their own,” he warns with a nervous laugh, “that’s as scary, if not scarier, than seeing your child cross the street by herself for the first time on their own. It’s such a life-threatening experience. And yet, you’ve got to trust them and trust that you’ve prepared them and that everything is going to be ok.”

He and Pamela recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. The two met through Pamela’s brother, with whom Boisvert played football in high school for Assumption Prep. “We knew of each other,” Boisvert recalls. “She dated some of my friends and I dated some of hers, but we didn’t really get together until early college.”

Certainly, he was smitten with Pamela, who has worked for the Colleges of Worcester Consortium for a number of years. But Boisvert kept in nose to the grindstone and always gave much attention to his studies.

“From very early on,” Boisvert says, “I had an interest in working with people and working with kids. I started working at the Lincoln Square Boys Club when I was a student at Assumption College studying natural sciences. I was pre-med. I knew I wanted to work with people and my father thought it would be a good to get a medical degree and become a psychiatrist. But by my senior year, I discovered that there were other ways to help people.
“My first contact with social services and programs that made a difference in kids’ lives started there at Assumption.”
From there, Boisvert earned another degree in psychiatric social work and went on to become the heart and soul of YOU, Inc. YOU, Inc is one of the leading child welfare and behavioral health organizations located in Central Massachusetts. It provides just about every child-oriented service one could possibly ask for: group homes, emergency foster care, education regimes for children with special needs, vocational education and homes for young teen mothers just brushes the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this amazing organization.
Boisvert is dedicated to his job with his heart and his soul, but even he acknowledges the demands of today’s daily grind. Computers, Blackberries, emails and voicemails can provide easy access, but they can also mean that Boisvert is on the clock 24/7. This constant accessibility is difficult for a man whose New Year’s resolution is to find even more of a work/home balance.

“You just prioritize as you get older,” Boisvert explains. “You make time for things like coaching soccer teams or teaching CCD. The Europeans say that Americans live to work, while they would say that they as Europeans work to live.”

An avid rower and firm believer in exercise, Boisvert can be found paddling any stress and troubles away.

“The way I got into rowing was simple, I was training for the Boston marathon in 1978,” he remembers. “I had just given up smoking, which is a very hard thing to do. It was a very big achievement. But I put on some weight. So I started walking. Then I started running. Then, being a bit of a compulsive competitor, I’m in a 5K race and then somebody tells me to a 10K race and I did that. Then a friend of mine said I had to do the Boston Marathon. So I did. When I was training, I would run along the Charles River and I would see these folks out there in their racing shells going down the Charles. I thought it was so beautiful and poetic.”

Boisvert happened to speak of his desire to row at a Worcester cocktail party one evening and Tom Sullivan, an avid rower as well, invited him to learn the sport. And he really meant learn, not just watch from the sidelines! “Tom said that he coached the Holy Cross rowing team and he invited me to train with them. So I trained with the Holy Cross team for a year. Had a great time too.”

Boisvert is a strong competitor and loves of exercise for himself, but he encourages his family to stay active too. “When you’re busy and there is stress,” he says, “the best way to get rid of it is through exercise. So I do have an interest in getting out and being active. I try to include my family in it as much as I can.”

Boisvert’s daughters support him in his healthy lifestyle choices, sometimes accompanying him on his athletic adventures.

“When I was 40, I ran my first marathon,” Boisvert says. “When I was 50, I rowed in the Head of The Charles. When I was 60, my youngest daughter and I climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. That was an incredible bonding experience. To do something like that with your child is just wonderful.”

Apart from continuing his excellent work at Y.O.U. Inc., the cardio-loving CEO has yet another goal to accomplish (in addition to getting through his youngest daughter’s upcoming spring wedding): he intends to bike across the country by the time he turns 70. For a man who has created such wonderful changes in the lives of children, teens and families in the Worcester area, such a trip should hardly be an obstacle.

But even a role model like Boisvert has a number people to whom he pays homage.

“Certainly, my parents,” he offers without hesitation. “My father was really the one who pushed the idea that education was the key to everything. Especially with learning the English language. That was a lesson early on. Spiritually speaking, St. Don Bosco was a saint who devoted his life to building special education schools for youths throughout the world. I have to say that I was very moved and influenced, especially during my high school years, by his dedication.”

Boisvert adds with a softer voice, “There have been a number of people along the way who have inspired me. But you know, the other individual who has really influenced my life in ways that I can’t even count is my wife. She has just been not only an incredible source of support, but a very leveling influence. I’m kind of an intense person. And intense people need someone to keep bringing them back down to the ground. Pam has always been that for me. It’s been such a wonderful, wonderful journey together.”

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