Friday, May 07, 2021

Person of the Week

Luke Labagnara Enjoys Spreading Positivity Through Work and Social Media

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Luke Labagnara, a lifelong East Haven resident, works at the Hagaman Library and TJ Maxx/ Home Goods and has a presence on social media.

Photo courtesy of Luke Labagnara

Luke Labagnara, a lifelong East Haven resident, works at the Hagaman Library and TJ Maxx/ Home Goods and has a presence on social media. (Photo courtesy of Luke Labagnara )

Luke Labagnara is a lifelong East Haven resident and there is only one way that Luke would consider living somewhere else: if he were chosen to be a houseguest on Big Brother, a Dutch reality TV show based on George Orwell’s novel of the same name where housemates, isolated from the outside world, are constantly monitored. One by one, the housemates are evicted from the house by popular vote.

Luke has been watching the show since season 13 (it’s now in season 23) and began applying to be on the show since season 15.

“I’d love to get the experience of what it’s like to be in the Big Brother house and compete—I have what it takes to compete,” says Luke. “I haven’t had much luck, but I’m not the kind of person to give up.”

Luke says he wouldn’t give up as a contestant either, with a goal of being the last houseguest remaining to win the half-million dollar prize. When it comes to Big Brother, Luke is not only a longtime fan, but he says he’s obsessed with the show.

During the summer when Big Brother airs, Luke hosts a vlog that discusses the series. He not only recaps episodes but taps into his creative side to make predictions as well.

“I’m a Big Brother historian and know the show inside out,” says Luke. “Besides creating the vlog for my entertainment, I like to share my passion for the show with other fans.”

Luke has been interested in television, media arts, acting, and performing for as long as he can remember. Though he briefly played clarinet in the 4th- and 5th grade, Luke found his passion on the stage.

At East Haven High School, Luke was involved in the drama club and played Tiny Tim in A Christmas Carol as a freshman. He was also a part of the ECA program where he was a member of the large and small ensemble as well as theater productions.

By his senior year, Luke had learned to create and choreograph his own numbers, which was one of his favorite parts of his musical theater career.

“Musical theater was my personal favorite and I always enjoyed acting and being able to become a different character,” says Luke, who graduated from East Haven High School in 2005. “I’ve always had a natural passion for anything to do with the stage and for what happens behind the scenes.”

After graduating, Luke didn’t leave his passion for theater behind. He became involved with a community theater group that met at Old Stone Church.

Luke encouraged his mom, Lucia, to get involved as well. Luke notes that he has always taken after his mom with her flair for the arts, affinity for dressing up in costumes, and love of being the center of attention. Despite those traits, she had never performed. The mother-son team performed Keith Jackson’s Laughing School Reunion together in March 2006.

“It was great to work together,” says Luke, who is also thankful for the support of his brother and sister-in-law. “She really got into lines and the dialog and she has good facial expressions to bring out characters. She did an amazing job in her debut.”

Luke has not had as many opportunities to be involved in theater over the years as he has gotten busier with work and college. He graduated from Gateway Community College in 2010, working at the Hagaman Memorial Library in East Haven—in a job he started when he was a senior in high school—throughout college and to this day.

Luke enjoys reading and always enjoyed visiting the library. As a clerical technician, he not only checks books in and out, but he gets to interact with the patrons as well.

“I always thought it’d be great to work there and now I’ve been there for 17 years,” says Luke. “I love helping a patron find something to read that they have a passion for.”

Though this year has certainly been a challenging one as the library has adapted to COVID, Luke has seen firsthand how the staff has coped with the pandemic.

“I love the people I work with and we’ve ll been working together as a team to figure it out,” says Luke. “We have to pull together during these unprecedented times and do what’s best for our patrons.”

The library isn’t the only place where Luke has made connections with the public. For nearly 10 years, he has worked at T.J. Maxx & HomeGoods with customer service being his favorite part of the job.

“I try to always give good customer service in warm and friendly atmosphere,” says Luke, who also enjoys shopping. “We want to ensure our customers shop in a safe atmosphere and despite masks, I still am sure to give a big smile.”

Though Luke no longer takes to the stage, he discovered a different way to channel his creativity. Luke hosts an Instagram account—hardworker27—that focuses on spreading positivity to his followers.

Luke shares photos, videos, livestreams, and shoutouts to fans all with a goal of brightening people’s days. He found that goal even more important throughout this past year.

“I’ve always been a naturally positive person and I wanted people to feel that,” says Luke. “Before COVID, I was doing videos to bring some entertainment into the world, but now I want people to know there is hope and get some positive vibes out there.

“I wanted to let people know that despite the unprecedented times, we are all in this together,” adds Luke. “Positivity is what counts. I’m a humble person and I didn’t do this to gain fame, but people has said it’s inspiring.”

One of those people is Jamie Torello Jones. Though Luke has known Jones’s husband Derek since high school, it was her love of bargain-shopping and transforming pieces and Luke’s videos that brought them closer to gather.

“She takes things she finds at the store and creates beautiful pieces,” says Luke. “She said I was able to bring a lot of light into her life through my videos and that I became inspirational to her and friends.”

When he’s working or posting to social media, Luke enjoys reading and shopping. He is looking forward to spring and summer—his favorite seasons—when he can go for walks, swim, get together with family and friends, and of course, feed his addiction to Big Brother.


Jenn McCulloch is the Correspondent for Zip06. Email Jenn at .

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