When community volunteer Rod Gallegos got up to receive a commendation at a recent Commerce city council meeting, he was cheered on by an enthusiastic group of fellow volunteers who say he is always the first to spring into action, as evidenced by the time a child went missing at an Independence Day festival.
“You could see him running, just scampering all over” to look for the child, said fellow ComCat volunteer Sharon Rowe. “You wouldn’t think a man like him could move that fast, but he was and he found that child.”
Gallegos was volunteering at the festival as a member of ComCat, a group of volunteers who are trained in CPR, first aid, and damage assessment. They set up neighborhood watch meetings, patrol, and help out at city events.
For the past two decades, the 65-year old Gallegos has devoted his time to helping his neighbors, whether it is packing and delivering food to seniors or providing free assistance on preparing tax returns.
Rowe who is 68-years old says at her age, “you don’t have too many people that you can look up to, and Rod is definitely someone that I can tailor my life after.”
In May, Los Angeles County honored Gallegos with an Older American Recognition Award, but local officials have long known of Gallegos dedication as a volunteer and have appointed him to numerous city commissions, including the city’s senior citizen, parks and recreation community services and housing commissions.
He was also one of the first individuals Community Service’s Director Laura Tilley recruited to volunteer for ComCat, a citizen’s squad providing support to the city’s public safety officials, soon after it was formed thirteen years ago.
Commerce was good to his family, so Gallegos wanted to give back. “I like my community. I want to help,” he said. The former LAUSD employee and electrician raised two boys and two daughters with Lia Gallegos, his wife of 64 years. Among his twelve grandchildren are a lawyer and a doctor.