Celebrating with service | VailDaily.com

Celebrating with service

EAGLE COUNTY — Gerald Gallegos was known for hard work and deep dedication to service.

Gallegos founded the company that bears his name 45 years ago. He didn't live to see the anniversary — he died in 2010 — but the company, and his legacy, are both thriving today.

As the current leadership of the Gallegos Corp. pondered what to do to celebrate its anniversary this year, it didn't take long to make the decision to perform some needed service work. The work this year included Eagle County, of course, as well as projects in the Roaring Fork Valley and the Front Range, the company's other locations.

In the Roaring Fork Valley, employees from Gallegos helped create an outdoor classroom. On the Front Range, Gallegos employees helped build a substation for the local fire district in Rist Canyon northwest of Fort Collins.

The Eagle County project would have been close to the company founder's heart.

Gerald Gallegos was an early supporter and financial backer of Roundup River Ranch, a haven for sick children about a dozen miles north of Dotsero up the Colorado River Road.

Gallegos was on the ranch's first board of directors, and the company provided material and manpower for much of the stone and concrete work at the facility. Some of the work was donated; other work was done at special rates.

The ranch, part of the Hole in Wall network of camps founded and supported by actor Paul Newman, hosts several sessions for kids and families every year. The ranch is equipped to take care of kids who often have very serious illnesses. The idea is to let the kids simply be kids for a few days.

This year, the ranch's fifth, about 1,000 kids and family members will enjoy a few days in the Colorado High Country, with camps continuing past summer into November.

The ranch has a shaded area at the boat dock at its fishing pond — the sun can be intense out there. The problem was that the shaded area had just a sand surface. That soft surface made it hard to maneuver wheelchairs, walkers and crutches.

Katie Santambrogio, the camp's director of development and marketing, approached the company earlier this year to ask for help putting a floor under the shade structure. The idea was quickly accepted as the Eagle County portion of the company's anniversary projects.

Ranch director Ruth Johnson said a crew from Gallegos spent some time earlier this year installing that surface.

"You should have seen the day they installed the pavers," Johnson said. "These guys know how to work, and I just kept thinking, 'This is their free time, and they're doing this.'"

That crew included Suzanne Gallegos, Gerald's wife, and company CEO Gary Woodworth. Like many company employees, Woodworth has spent a long time with the company. Woodworth is in his 28th year with the firm. Much of that time has been spent in the company's executive offices, but the boss got down and dirty with the other volunteers the day the pavers were laid.

"I was sore for a few days after that," Woodworth said.

Another member of the volunteer crew, Rocio Martinez, is the company's receptionist and helps manage the internship program. Woodworth said Martinez is a veteran of Youth Foundation programs — another of Gerald's passions. While she spends most of her time in the office, Martinez jumped right into the job.

Woodworth said Martinez was first part of the line of people passing concrete pavers down to the dock.

"Next thing I knew she was on the ground, slamming pavers into place," he said.

The floor project was something the ranch couldn't have done within its own budget, Johnson said — campers attend for free, and the ranch depends on fundraising, grants and similar sources to operate. But that space was needed and has already been well-used, Johnson said.

"Kids can fish, boat, have safety talks or just time for reflection," Johnson said. "It's one of our most well-used spots now."

The anniversary projects are one way the company carries on its founder's spirit.

"It's a real testament to the way the company has carried on without missing a beat," Woodworth said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930, smiller@vaildaily.com and @scottnmiller.