As a child I remember watching my mother get prepared to go out for the evening. In her jewelry drawer she always had a dozen white envelopes into which she’d slip a few dollars each for donation to a variety of charities. And each week, without fail, she’d give these envelopes out to help those in our community who were in need. 

At the same time my father was helping families in the neighborhood who needed money for car payments, rent, or food. While many of these loans never got repaid, my father never resented anyone, nor did he pressure them to repay before they were in a position to do so.

These were valuable lessons to me and my siblings regarding the importance of helping those less well-off, and something I carry with me to this day.

Throughout my life I’ve been surrounded by cultural and ethnic diversity, having grown up on the south side of Chicago to second generation Italian parents. We weren’t wealthy, but were loved unconditionally and surrounded by family and friends of every imaginable background.

Into this mix was introduced a confidence provided by a father who told me not to worry about being a cheerleader, because I had the capability to own the whole football team.

So with a lifelong belief that I could do anything I set my mind to, I went into an extremely successful sales career at companies like 3M, Kodak, and Canon…where I met my husband Conrad. Conrad and I recently joined the Carlsbad Rotary club because we understand the truth my parents taught me so long ago: we need to take care of each other, regardless of how much…or how little…money anyone may have.

It’s an attitude I share with 70 friends every week, both inside and outside of Rotary meetings. Being with like-minded people was one of the key draws for us coming to Rotary. The commitment of all these community leaders, willing to focus on service above self and help those most in need, appeals to the lessons my mother and father instilled in me.

After all, if your basic needs are accounted for, each of us can always spare a few dollars for our own envelopes.

The people in my Rotary club are all special, each in their own way. I hope you’ll come down to visit with us next week, and let me introduce you to some of them. Do it to honor your parents, or to teach your kids. Do it to make some new friends. Or just do it because it’s the right thing to do.