Michael Lyn Cappello is the new director of the social services office in Litchfield. BZ photo

The transition to new leadership in the social services office in Litchfield has been seamless, with Michael Lyn Cappello having stepped in as Philip Birkett’s successor.

Cappello, a Litchfield resident, has been the director of the office since Jan. 1. Birkett, who served as director for 14 years, retired on Dec. 31.

“Being able to help people find the assistance they need is a challenge I enjoy,” Cappello said from her office in the Town Hall Annex in Bantam on Friday. “Between identifying resources for food and energy assistance, I’ve had a very busy three weeks.”

Cappello knew a bit about the job before starting, as she had spent one day a week for eight weeks assisting Birkett in the area of energy assistance. After Birkett announced his intention to retire at the end of the year, Cappello decided to apply for the job. She was one of three candidates interviewed, according to First Selectman Denise Raap.

“I’ve known Michael Lyn for more than 20 years and have found her to be a person who always puts the needs of others before her own,” Raap said. “She’s one of the most compassionate people I know and was the perfect choice for the job.”

One of Cappello’s initial priorities is getting a food pantry up and running out of the Town Hall Annex. A room that previously served as an employee kitchen when the building housed Bantam Superior Court is being converted into the food pantry by public works department employee Tim Sullivan.

The food pantry will be outfitted with a refrigerator, freezer and shelving. The goal is to have it opened by early March, Cappello said. It will be the town’s first municipal food pantry.

“The last 10 months have shown there’s a real need for a food pantry,” Cappello said. “That need isn’t letting up.”

Cappello can be reached at 860-567-7564.