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H the Thanksgiving holiday, and my religious upbringing, have inspired me to try to help others,” Quintero said. When the Quinteros and their children, Cindi and Albert II, moved to Gilroy in 1979, her community service began with a secretarial job in the Discipline Office of Gilroy High School, a position she held for 28 years. “I loved that job, because I felt like I could make a difference there. I could help kids who were going through a transition period,” Quintero said, adding, “I always treated them with respect, and they always treated me with respect.” The following year, Quintero joined a newly established Gilroy Chapter of the Crippled Children’s Society, spearheaded by the late Marge Albaugh. In 1995, she began a 15-year membership with Beta Sigma Phi, a local women’s sorority. Two years later, prompted by Al’s encouragement, Quintero’s involvement with the Gilroy Garlic Festival began. In her 10-year span of service to the Festival, Quintero held the positions of Advisory Board Chair and member of the Board of Directors. In 2010, Quintero joined the Gilroy Exchange Club, which provides much-needed school supplies to teachers in several local schools, as well as new school clothes and shoes for children of families in need. “It’s a commitment to community, family, and country, is what it is,” Quintero said. er stunning smile projects warmth and kindness, her chestnut eyes evoke sincerity and compassion, all fitting characteristics of a woman whose dedication to helping others has been a life long mission. In 2016, Gilroy resident Rita Quintero’s years of dedication to the community culminated when she was asked to take a seat on St. Joseph’s Family Center’s Board of Directors, a position her husband of 44 years, Albert (Al), believes is exactly what his wife has been striving for all along. “I think she was kind of aiming for that, an organization that really helps the poor,” Al said. “They don’t just help one part of the person, they help the whole person, the whole family,” Quintero said. “Being a part of St. Joseph’s Family Center, which works toward improving the quality of life for those needing food, housing, and employment, makes me feel that I have in some way come full circle, and I am thankful for that.” Quintero has never forgotten her early years growing up with her parents and four brothers in Patterson, California. In fact, it was the catalyst that led to her over thirty years of self- less giving to those in need. The family lived in a small two-room house with an out- house at the back of the property. Quintero can still recall her mother giving her baths in a metal tub on the kitchen floor. “The memory of a time during my childhood, my mother being so grateful for a box of food left on our doorstop during GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2017 gmhtoday.com 21