Lifestyle

HOMETOWN HERO: A life without direction is a life without passion

Quinn Ianniciello sits next to the garden project that he helped put together in the courtyard at South Whidbey High School. - Brian Kelly
Quinn Ianniciello sits next to the garden project that he helped put together in the courtyard at South Whidbey High School.
— image credit: Brian Kelly

Quinn Ianniciello has filled his life with helping others, often stepping in when others have stepped out.

And this month’s Hometown Hero sees no reason to stop now.

Ianniciello says if he is going to do something he wants to do his very best, and when we are doing something we naturally love, it’s easy to do our best.

When Ianniciello is asked for his help, he enjoys helping others perform their work to their best ability. He feels that if all work as a team and strive for excellence it doesn’t matter who has an idea or who does the work that needs to be done.

Whitney Wood, a fellow senior, writes, “Quinn has been truly a role model for me and others. He has taught me the importance of follow-up, persistence and organization. When I started volunteering at the Island Coffee House in Langley, Quinn taught me how to properly count out change and use the register. When times get slow at the coffee house, instead of standing around, Quinn starts cleaning out the freezer or refrigerator.

“He is always about bettering our community and school. I have known him since Yellow Cubbies and Circle Time at the St. Augustine’s preschool, and he has always been helpful. In the seventh grade, Quinn, Erin Pierce-Magdalik and I organized a WAIF food drive. Erin and I were helpful and committed, but it was Quinn’s bright ideas and dedication that were our rock and solid force behind our project, while keeping us laughing.”

Ianniciello enjoys laughing, and especially at himself. His e-mail address is “Shortdude.”

“We gotta be able to laugh at ourselves, or life would be no fun at all. My best friend and I, Hailey, have gone to every prom together. She’s getting taller and taller each year, and this year she wore tall high heels, I told her, ‘Hey, that’s no fair,” he laughs, leaning back in his chair.

Veronica Brown, a fellow Key Club member, says his ability to not take himself seriously comes in handy.

“This past January, Quinn came up with an idea and helped organize a winter ball fundraiser to help the ASB. He worked extremely hard to make it a night to remember.

“However, it snowed the day of the dance, and the DJ’s trailer fell off his truck, and his equipment was damaged. To top it off, the photographer couldn’t make it because of the snow. Quinn brushed this off, and used his iPod for music. And the winter ball ended up being really fun.”

Ianniciello’s dream, though, is to someday run his own hotel. It’s a passion he’s pursued since his early teen years.

The inspiration came easily. He’s always enjoyed staying in hotels with his family, eating out at restaurants, and watching live performances. And what could be better than helping others have enjoyable experiences like these, too?

“First I thought I would pick one of these to do when I grew up. Then

I thought, ‘Why not own and operate a hotel resort that way I can do them all?’”

He began reading everything on owning and managing restaurants and hotels. He got involved with theater running lights and learning all that goes into a great performance. His eighth-grade year at Langley Middle School gave him the opportunity to intern at the Saratoga Inn, through the school’s apprenticeship program.

“I loved the work, every aspect of it.” Quinn says.

Tomoko, the manager at the Saratoga Inn, remembers, “When Quinn came in to the inn, his young age of 13 and his small stature was at first an obstacle that guests saw him as too young of a person to be working in his position. However his actions quickly dispelled their notions.

“After his apprenticeship ended we hired him. Quinn is congenial, professional, self-motivated, very helpful and confident about his knowledge of his job. Everyone likes Quinn. He is an outstanding person and employee,” Tomoko says.

Ianniciello says he has fun volunteering as a barista at the Island Coffee House where even their tips go for youth projects. He plans a coffee shop in his hotel lobby, along with a theater and a fine dining restaurant.

“This way I can work with all the aspects of life that I enjoy. First off, all types of people.

I can decorate, plan events, activities, menus, schedule performances, and work with theater lighting. I want to be a hands-on hotel owner working alongside staff.

“I’ll be open to others’ ideas, because no one wants to be a complete follower,” Ianniciello adds.

He thinks he will open his resort up in the United Kingdom, because Harry Potter books are his favorites and he feels his dry sense of humor will fit right in.

He has envisioned this hotel even further, and can imagine himself buying an old hotel and renovating it with a black-and-white décor. He is going to Britain for the first time this summer.

“Everything I am doing now in my life will help me in serving others in my hotel. Theater teaches us to watch people’s cues to see if they are bored, shifting in their seats, or eyes wandering. We evaluate these cues after shows, and can make adjustments.

“Some people presenting speeches need this training,” he adds. “We had a boring presenter at our school once that just plowed on and didn’t look for all the signs of the audience falling asleep, yawning and shifting. If we care about who we are talking to and serving, we will want to look for these signs and adjust accordingly.”

Ianniciello describes himself as having “OCD-ness” (obsessive compulsive disorder), which makes him notice every little thing that he thinks could be better.

“Things like burnt-out light bulbs, paper signs, or exit signs that don’t all match just drive me crazy. I hope my OCD-ness doesn’t get worse in my older years, or drive others crazy too much,” he laughs.

“I’m a big loser!” Ianniciello says, making an “L” sign with his thumb and index finger. “I have to wear a big chain around my neck for all of my keys. The fact is if I don’t literally tie things to me, I lose them.”

Ianniciello is sitting at a table at Mukilteo Coffee, one of his favorite coffee shops in Langley. He sips on a double tall hazelnut latte, and exchanges a friendly conversation with coffee shop owner Gary Smith. He becomes quickly comfortable.

“I especially like going to other places right now because my parents have our house up for sale, so off with our shoes, and everything straightened every day. We can’t even live in the house, and mom is always reminding me to keep my room straightened up,” he says, before offering a quick shout-out: “Love you, Mom.”

“My mom has written these great children’s books written in verse. I thought I would get one of her books and have it printed into a hardbound book from Apple. Oh, but wait. Mother’s Day is tomorrow, isn’t it?” he asks.

“Oops. I’ll get you something else special, mom.”

Ianniciello has earned a reputation as a humble helper.

Deana Duncan, production manager at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, writes, “When WICA’s tech director quit, Quinn was brought in to help us out in a really big show.

“I thought at first he was a bit too young. But he proved his knowledge, and works like a real pro and is not ego driven. He cares about the people and the final product and works to make it the best it can be. We were all amazed at his ability to lead a group of adult actors in preparation for the opening of each night’s show. He so easy to work with I hope to work with Quinn again in the future.”

Ianniciello says, “Recently a friend asked me how he could figure out what he wanted to do in his life. I asked him what were his natural interests? What did he love to do when he was a child?”

He told his friend it was the best place to start.

Ianniciello says his wish is for everybody is to find their passion and pursue it, because we would all be happier and do our best when we are doing what we love.

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