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ParentMap 2017 Superhero Gregory Druzianich: The Opener

A Q&A with a Roots of Empathy instructor and professional doorman

Alayne Sulkin

Published on: March 31, 2017

Gregory Druzianich and Holly. Photo credit: Will Austin

Gregory Druzianich, known as Dru to the more than 100 residents of BayVista Residential Tower in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood, has been the tower’s late-night doorman since 2013. A native of Aberdeen, Dru doesn’t just know the names of everyone who lives at BayVista — he cares deeply about them and their families, says BayVista resident John Sabol. 

“Dru creates community and is deeply empathetic. It’s unquestionably contagious,” Sabol says.

Sabol also knows Dru through their shared work at Roots of Empathy, an international nonprofit that works to “build caring, peaceful and civil societies through the development of empathy in children and adults.”

At the heart of Roots of Empathy is the local parent and infant who join a Roots of Empathy instructor in a classroom for nine visits. There, students watch as the parent responds to a baby’s struggle and stress with positive coaching and encouragement. This exposure to the baby and parent’s interaction helps students increase their ability to identify with another’s feelings, which has been proven to reduce aggression.

 Dru learned about Roots because BayVista is the training site for Roots instructors. He loved seeing the families come through the lobby. He’d often arrive at work early just to observe the training.

 “Dru is a living, breathing example of what empathy is all about,” says Melissa Soltani, Roots of Empathy program manager. “The way that he engages with people embodies kindness, respect and a real sense of caring about others and what is happening in their lives.”

Meet our other 2017 Superheroes!

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A professional baseball player.

What’s the most misunderstood part of your job?

As a professional doorman, I also function as a listener, therapist, advisor, plumber, consultant, friend, acquaintance, bird feeder, confidant, emcee, janitor, real estate broker, enforcer and advocate.

What book saved you or changed your life?

Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda and/or How To Get Well by Paavo Airola. 

If you could have one superhero power, what would it be and why?

Super learning — to solve all the world’s problems for the benefit of humankind.

On a rainy Pacific Northwest morning, what gets you motivated and out of bed?

I’m motivated to get out of bed and not go too much further than my viewing chair where I meditate, drink tea, answer emails, listen to music and watch the weather until the rain stops, the pavement dries and then I roll out for a solo, three- to four-hour bicycle ride.

If you could dine with anyone, living or dead, whom would that be and why?

Antonio Vivaldi, who composed the most gorgeous music. 

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