Youth leader remembered for kind, loving nature  

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By Andreas Yilma, Staff Writer

Naugatuck Youth Services member Kailee Bartek tapes a note to a bulletin board in remembrance of Nicole Wiley during a memorial service Aug. 17 in the backyard of the youth services building on Scott Street. Wiley, 29, a prevention and youth leadership coordinator, died unexpectedly earlier this month. She enjoyed writing uplifting notes for her co-workers, who created the board to honor her. -ANDREAS YILMA

NAUGATUCK — Family and friends described Nicole Wiley as a woman who was loving and uplifted the youth within the community.

It was that same community that came together Aug. 17 to honor Wiley, a former prevention and youth leadership coordinator for Naugatuck Youth Services, who died unexpectedly on Aug. 7 due to a medical issue. She was 29.

Wiley’s family and friends created a memorial — two bulletin boards with the words “Be Magical” affixed to them — to Wiley at the organization’s center on Scott Street. As they paid their respects, they taped uplifting notes to the boards to honor a friend, wife, daughter and co-worker who was known for her kindness and leadership.

Nicole Wiley’s mother, Sandra Wiley, said the youth services organization meant everything to her daughter.

“She was always talking to me about her kids and her programs, mentorship … prevention,” Sandra Wiley said. “She just wanted to change the world.”

Wiley joined the borough’s youth services team, which serves about 300 area youth, in 2016 as a program development intern who focused on mentoring while studying community psychology at the University of New Haven. She then took on the coordinator position the following year.

Naugatuck Youth Services Executive Director Kristin Mabrouk said Wiley helped create a welcoming and inclusive culture.

Wiley trained hundreds of people, including educators in the Naugatuck school district, in “Question. Persuade. Refer.,” a suicide prevention strategy. She ran monthly free trainings for anyone in the community, Mabrouk said.

“I think she was able to tie so much more into the prevention that it wasn’t just, we’re preventing bad things,” Mabrouk said. “It was more like, we’re creating good and positive things and strong relationships and that was what she did.”

Wiley also helped build the Boys Day Peer Mentoring Conference in the borough, where she trained Naugatuck High School boys in mentoring, helped youth services obtain an anti-drug grant, and every summer helped bring area youth to Rhode Island for a youth leadership conference, according to Mabrouk.

Naugatuck Youth Services member Holly Santos tapes a note to a bulletin board in remembrance of Nicole Wiley during a memorial service Aug. 17 in the backyard of the youth services building on Scott Street. Wiley, 29, a prevention and youth leadership coordinator, died unexpectedly earlier this month. She enjoyed writing uplifting notes for her co-workers, who created the board to honor her. -ANDREAS YILMA

Wiley left her full-time position in Naugatuck in April for a similar position in West Haven, but still helped the borough’s youth organization part time with a variety of projects. She planned to go for a master’s degree at Yale University next month.

Sarah Deflumeri, who took over Wiley’s former position and was her best friend, said it’s bittersweet to fill that role, as everything Deflumeri is doing in her new position, Wiley started and built.

“It’s hard to do it knowing that I don’t have her to do it with me, but it makes it all that more important to finish because she cared about all of this more than anyone and honestly helped me realize why it’s important,” Deflumeri said. “I think she did that for a lot of other people in the community too.”

Wiley’s husband, Jacob Leach, who she married in the same backyard as the memorial, said she loved the organization and called those who worked there her second family.

“She loved helping people more than anything. I think that’s why she was here. That’s why she went to grad school,” Leach said. “That’s why she was going to Yale in the fall. She wanted to help people and she loved her kids. She loved the kids.”

Wiley grew up in Rhinebeck, N.Y. Family and friends will hold a memorial service on Sept. 5 in New York.

“Kindness was her main thing. Be a kind human being and be better than you were yesterday,” Sandra Wiley said. “She was definitely a leader.”