THE SOCIAL WORKER'S PROMISE
At age 7, Chris Bidorini made a promise to his biological parents on the day he learned of their reported death.
"I made them a promise to help people and become a humanitarian," said Mr. Bidorini, who serves as a Department of Children and Families' (DCF) ongoing treatment social worker in the New Britain office.
Mr. Bidorini said his bio-parents brought him to an orphanage in Calcutta (Kolkata), India at one day old, which was their last contact. Born in 1987, Mr. Bidorini was adopted the following year by a couple from Burlington, CT -- Al Bidorini, who was a state employee, and Fran Baiamonte, who owned her own business as a human resources consultant.
Following the loss of his biological parents, he was struck with a sense of duty.
"Coming from such a poor city and living in the United States with so many opportunities, I felt like I owed it to them and myself and the world to live a life that was purposeful," Mr. Bidorini said in an interview. "I had been blessed, and I should live a life that's purposeful in blessing others. Those are the promises I made to them."
It is a promise he has kept and will continue to keep.
Mr. Bidorini also credited his adoptive parents for setting an example for him and his 26-year-old sister who was adopted from the same orphanage. "My parents modelled human compassion and taught me the importance of giving back," he said of his parents who still live in Connecticut. "They raised us to be very independent and also caring for others and that being reflective is very important. I credit much of who I am to them."
Recently, the Department recognized Mr. Bidorini as its 2021 recipient of the Janet E. Williams Humanitarian Award, named in honor of the beloved clinician who worked for the agency a number of years ago. Mr. Bidorini received the honor for his social work -- but also for his work promoting racial justice, raising money to fight HIV/AIDS, and combatting human trafficking.
"Christopher Bidorini is a passionate advocate who has made a measurable impact not only on his community, but also the children and families we serve," wrote the staff in the DCF New Britain office in their nomination of Mr. Bidorini. "He encourages and exemplifies the virtue of an individual who has shown unwavering compassion for his love of humanity."
Indeed, Mr. Bidorini's humanitarianism gives meaning to his life and focuses his activities. He estimates that he has raised/donated more than $50,000 for charities for causes including combatting HIV/AIDS and human trafficking. He has testified before the General Assembly and conducted community organizing to promote civic engagement, including voter registration and participation.
In addition to his committed efforts outside work, Mr. Bidorini has served as a lead trainer on human trafficking for the Department's Academy for Workforce Development and has presented on the topic at a number of conferences. In 2018, he received an award from the Human Anti-Trafficking Response Team (HART) for all his efforts in this area.
While obtaining his master's degree in social work at UCONN, Mr. Bidorini interned with DCF's Tammy Sneed, the long-standing administrator who leads the agency's efforts to combat child sex trafficking. Mr. Bidorini says he plans to pursue a doctorate to conduct research on how to most effectively respond to this awful form of child exploitation.
Eventually, Mr. Bidorini says, "I want to have Tammy's job."
As an intern to Ms. Sneed, he had already earned her confidence.
"Chris went above and beyond any school or work requirements supporting Connecticut's efforts to end child trafficking," said Ms. Sneed. "Chris is a dynamic presenter, engages audiences, and provides difficult information in a way that is well received and life changing for participants. Chris is an advocate, a leader, and an everlasting voice in the movement to end this horrendous crime against Connecticut's children."
Indeed, service as a social worker flows naturally for Mr. Bidorini.
"It's a difficult job and everyone comes to the job with a certain passion," he said. "I'm like every other worker, and that passion is the underlying reason I wanted to do child protection.
"Once I started, I fell in love with the work," Mr. Bidorini added. "Coming from an adoptive home and having a great outcome, I wanted to make sure other children had a good outcome too - good outcomes regardless of what they are." He made a point of saying that adoption is only one good outcome of many possible, including keeping families intact, reunification and kinship care.
As robust as Mr. Bidorini's experiences and work has been, the Janet E. Williams Award stands out as a highlight, he said.
"Getting an award that recognizes me as a humanitarian is validation that I'm on the right path," he said. "It was a special moment for me, but I'm far from done."