Gary Stopani is the TI Alumni Association 2012 Community Involvement Volunteer of the Year.
A TIAA member since he retired from TI in 2008, Gary is the immediate past TIAA treasurer and helped produce the TIAA Cookbook whose proceeds benefit the United Way.
The TIAA Community Involvement Team (CIT) in announcing the award to Gary, said, “Gary has willingly and happily partaken in almost every TIAA sponsored service project.” Gary is active with The Senior Source monthly sponsored TIAA community service projects that have included outings to City Square, White Rock Center of Hope, Shoes for Orphans Souls, Network of Community Ministries, and Dolphin Heights Community Garden.
In addition to Gary’s dedication to TIAA-hosted events, both service-focused and social/education-oriented, he is committed to his church (King of Glory Lutheran) community where he maintains the senior email contact list that is essential to communicating to the church’s seniors and supports their active and healthy lifestyle with twice monthly activities from September to May. Gary also acts as an usher and communion assistant within his church.
Gary is an avid Carter Blood Care donor with a donation of blood every eight weeks.
Gary is connected with Dallas Ramps, an organization that builds freedom for homebound individuals, many of whom are seniors. Gary works at Dallas Ramps two to three times a month and has contributed to 200 successful ramp builds a year.
In addition to Gary’s commitment to serve, willingness to share his talents and expertise, can-do and will-do attitude, time given to community service projects and church duties, Gary thinks of others first, contributes to solutions and bridges together different organizations to support one another through simple ways that make a big difference!
An example of Gary’s endearing qualities involves a Senior Source-sponsored service activity at Dolphin Heights Community Garden in South Fair Park Dallas. While fighting the summer heat and working on many garden chores, Gary listened to TIAA Community Involvement Team members discussing an idea and immediately offered a plan of action. Many of the RSVP community garden partners have a need for volunteers to donate and make wood or other outdoor signage to label their plots similar to the ones at Dolphin Heights Community Garden.
From his volunteer work at Dallas Ramps, he pointed out that there is scrap wood that they throw away. Gary offered to save the scrap wood, cut it to size for the name plates and make stakes to post the garden signs. Since then, with the permission of Dallas Ramps, Gary has cut and donated 122 garden signs and stakes for community gardens in Dallas and Collin counties. Sixty-two signs have been painted and are in the staking process. The first set of garden signs were made by seniors of all physical levels and aptitudes at a rehabilitation and care center. A break from their traditional activities, painting and creating signs that will adorn community spaces brought a youthful spirit, confidence and joy to the seniors, many confined to the center.
Gary is responsible for that happy memory because he selflessly gives just a couple of extra hours a month to cut wood.