I have been at Community Medical Foundation for 17 years working with different donors and community members and every single one is special – but there are a few that I hold near and dear in my heart. And Americo Papaleo is one of them.
For those of you that didn’t know him, Americo, who passed away in July was an active member in law enforcement, working with the Fresno County Sheriff Department for 37 years. He had been giving to Community since 1983 and each gift he gave was in memory or in honor of someone he knew that had passed. I remember he would always joke and say, “One day it’s going to be me in there [the obituaries].”
Every two or three weeks he would usually send in an envelope with a different name on it. But at one point I asked him to just call me because it was getting difficult to read his writing. So we ended up building this friendship from our frequent phone conversations and I learned the stories behind the gifts he made and a bit about his family.
We never actually met in person until about two years ago, but I had talked to him over the phone for at least 10 years before that. Whether it was about a gift, or just to tell me a great story about when he was at the Sheriff’s Department, he was always a ray of sunshine in my day. He was such a humble, kind and caring soul – he loved Community.
I think that’s what kept him giving for so long – his love for Community and the Valley. He was such a generous man. To me, he was more than a donor – he was my friend.
We may have lost an amazing man in the community, but his legacy lives on through his generosity to Community.