SARASOTA COUNTY - 7 Who Care honoree Patti Gallo has been serving the Suncoast for three decades. She is known for donating her own time and money to help those in need. But ask anyone at the Venice YMCA and they will tell you she is also an inspirational leader who enlists others to fight hunger on the Suncoast.
Your doctor will tell you the best gift you can give yourself is to eat nutritious food and exercise; a third suggestion could be to hang out with Patti Gallo. She has been providing the diet and exercise for folks for 30 years -- but she brings a third gift to the party: the glowing spirituality that comes from a life devoted to giving to others.
To organize the giving, Patti commands an army of “Angels”. She's a drill sergeant philanthropist, teaching a healthy mind/healthy body philosophy to her women's fitness classes. Over the last several decades, Patti has developed close ties to many of her students, and listing them in her cause.
We spent a wonderful morning talking to the Angels. "She's a wonderful, wonderful caring loving woman. You won't meet another like her in your lifetime probably. You're blessed to meet somebody like Patty," says Angel Janice Mihay.
Patti and her Angels have battled hunger and poverty in the Venice area, with bags of food, gift cards, and love and kindness every holiday. But hard times on schedule, and Patti's holiday giving soon became a year-round mission to battle hunger. "So she works with our preschool director to identify families in need. And she will take the money she makes at the Y and actually go shopping for food," says Pat Ryan, COO of the Venice YMCA.
And so it is, week after week: Patti shopping the sales for nutritious food and using a combination of donations and her own salary to stock the preschool shelves so no child, needy or not, will ever go to sleep hungry.
Patti and her husband Frank together have a history of voluntarism. Frank donates his time and talents to the Venice YMCA fixing things up. And when we caught up to this 84-year-old, he was building them a new sidewalk. But it's not the generosity that runs through Patti's family, or the gifts of kindness that Patti herself gives so freely. What stays with you is that Patti never ever draws attention to herself, or points out her to goodness. No that's left to Patti's Angels.