The Rotary Club of Rancho Santa Fe had the special honor of hosting Rotary District 5340 Governor Mel Gallegos at its Aug. 8 meeting.
In his remarks, Gallegos complimented the Rotary Club of Rancho Santa Fe for its many accomplishments—since the club was founded in 1959 with just 17 members, the club has given over $1,974,000 to the Rotary Foundation supporting district and global projects. Gallegos acknowledged the Rotary’s work with local firefighters, participation in community events and dedication to youth programs.
The club recently collected backpacks for the Exceptional Family Member Program at Camp Pendleton , which supports military families that have children with special needs.
“You’re an active and vital club, you guys have done good,” said Gallegos, who served as a past president of the El Cajon Breakfast and San Diego Downtown Rotary Clubs.
A veteran, Gallegos served as a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy stationed at San Diego Naval Hospital, Balboa. In 1981, he joined the staff of Sharp Memorial Hospital working on the Cardiac Care Unit. In the last few years he transitioned to the Information Technology department to work on the electronic medical recordkeeping system.
Gallegos said he almost didn’t become a Rotarian and has fond memories of his “Rotary roots,” remembering the mentors that brought him up over the years. It was his wife, Judy, known around District 5340 as “Hey Jude,” who first joined the El Cajon Breakfast Rotary Club in 1990 and encouraged him to come along.
“Rotary opened the doors for me to experiences that I never would have had,” Gallegos said of his several trips to East Africa and attendance at international Rotary conventions. “I learned how I could make the world a better place.”
Gallegos’ first trip to Africa was to participate in a National Immunization Day in Eritrea, seeing countless children immunized in the Rotary’s efforts to eradicate polio through its PolioPlus program.
Since Rotary’s polio eradication efforts began with partners World Health Organization, U.S. Center for Disease Control and UNICEF, they have reduced polio cases internationally by 99.9 percent and immunized more than 2.5 billion children in 122 countries. The goal is to get to zero cases, Gallegos said, adding that San Diego’s District 5340 was number one in the world in total contributions to PolioPlus this past year.
“We make progress and we will succeed because we can’t afford not to,” Gallegos said.
As district governor, Gallegos said one of his most important goals is to continue to work on building membership, particularly attracting younger members. He encouraged Rotarians to keep opening the door for others and to serve as mentors, as was done for him.
“There’s so much we can accomplish as Rotarians,” he told the club. “I encourage you to be the inspiration in your community and the world.”
The Rotary Club of Rancho Santa Fe meets on Wednesdays at noon at the Rancho Santa Fe Golf Club. At the next club meeting on Aug. 22 the speaker will be Tonya Mantooth, CEO of the San Diego Film Festival. For more information, visit rsfrotary.com.
Tickets are on sale now for the sixth annual Taste of Rancho Santa Fe on Sunday, Oct. 7 at The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe. The event will raise money for 14 local beneficiaries, including Rescue Express, Cancer Angels, Just in Time for Foster Youth and Starlings Volleyball Clubs. For more information, visit tasteofrsf.org