10th annual Rough Notes Company
Community Service Award
California producer's efforts honor her mother
By By Bob Bloss
Several years ago Barbara Galgiani’s widowed mother suffered from a terminal medical condition that required continued care and attention. Professional caregivers, representing her community’s local hospice organization, came to the patient’s home nearly every day.
Barbara Galgiani was greatly impressed by the way the hospice personnel comforted her mother during those emotionally and physically trying days back in 2001. She wondered, however, why these medical professionals were forced to make house calls instead of operating a full-care hospice facility where terminally-ill patients could be admitted to receive “24/7” comfort and medical attention. Soon after her mother passed away, Barbara took it upon herself to do something about establishing a permanent, full-service Hospice House.
Her success in helping to spearhead an effort to create Stockton, California’s Hospice of San Joaquin has earned Barbara Galgiani national recognition as winner of the 10th Annual Community Service Award, presented by The Rough Notes Company to independent agents, brokers, and insurance agencies who display extraordinary commitment to philanthropy and charity.
Galgiani, CIC, CPCU, CRM, CWCA and CPIW, is the top producer at Giddings, Corby, Hynes of Modesto, California, a retail agency that’s a member of the Capax Management & Insurance Services group of agencies and brokers. In addition, Galgiani is frequently invited to conduct E&O prevention discussions before select agency groups throughout the United States.
She was presented with The Rough Notes Company’s Community Service Award at recent congratulatory ceremonies in Indianapolis, Indiana. Robert N. Kretzmer, executive director and founder of the Community Service Award, introduced the 2009 winner by citing Galgiani as “...a compassionate, charismatic, creative, empowering, humble, unselfish and natural-born leader who inspires others to give of themselves and donate their time. Speaking for President and CEO Walter J. Gdowski and the entire Rough Notes family, we salute your extraordinary work on behalf of the Hospice of San Joaquin and all of the patients who have benefitted greatly by your generosity.
“Our hope,” continued Kretzmer, “is that this special annual recognition will foster and promote other agents to continue our industry’s proud tradition of giving within their local communities. This year’s winner is a superb example of just why we present the Community Service Award. She volunteers her time, talent, and financial resources to make a significant difference within her San Joaquin, California, county. Her charitable giving has helped eliminate pain, stress, fear and hopelessness for the less fortunate—especially the terminally ill.”
Now a fully operational facility since 2004, the Hospice of San Joaquin—near the University of the Pacific—has cared for more than 600 terminally-ill patients. Barbara Galgiani receives a major share of credit for bringing Hospice House to a successful, vigorous reality.
A Midwestern transplant
Inspired by her brother’s business success at Farm Bureau on the West Coast, Barbara, a Wisconsin native, moved to California two decades ago to join CalFarm Insurance as a file clerk. There she met her future husband, John Galgiani. After various position advancements she was eventually assigned accounts relating to marine insurance. When she later joined the Capex-Giddings, Corby, Hynes firm in 1996, Barbara focused on recreation marine insurance. She has maintained her concentration on the marine market ever since.
“We did virtually no marine business until Barbara arrived here,” said Joel Geddes III, business adviser at the Modesto agency. “But marine is now our biggest category, and she’s been fully responsible for that. Otherwise, we probably would not be doing any marine.” In 2006, Barbara was appointed president of Capax-Marine Providers, a subsidiary of Capax-GCH.
Geddes, who nominated Barbara for this Rough Notes award, cites her as his “...mentor, leader, and inspiration,” not only in helping launch a career which has led to his presidency of the Insurance Brokers & Agents of the West (IBA West) Young Agents local affiliate, but by encouraging him and numerous other associates within the agency to become involved in her philanthropic pursuits with the Hospice of San Joaquin.
“Her inspirational enthusiasm is catching,” relates Geddes. “It has encouraged almost everyone in the agency to become involved in some way with the Hospice—attending special events, poinsettia sales at Christmas, raffles, silent auctions, other fundraising activities throughout the year. She’s clearly an asset to our agency as our number one producer and an important asset to the Hospice House. No question that she deserves the Rough Notes Community Service Award.”
Tim Finster, who is president of Capax, lauds Barbara for her insurance business professionalism but also for her service to the Hospice of San Joaquin.
“Barbara Galgiani is an extremely dedicated person. Dedicated to her clientele and to her charitable projects. If you knew her well, you’d clearly see that she’s a tenacious negotiator. A key strength that she brings to our company is reflected by her own service team that takes good care of clients. They are very loyal to her. She firmly believes in a win-win proposition. She delivers day in and day out, as her ranking as the largest producer in our business confirms. Her enthusiasm carries over to her Hospice endeavors. She’s done wonderful things for the Hospice. She has not only been the fundraising chairman; she pretty much founded the fundraising program for the permanent Hospice facility.”
A dream begun
The initiative for establishing San Joaquin County’s first and only residence house for hospice care was begun in 2002. It was then—shortly after her mother’s death, and motivated by the excellent in-home hospice assistance her mother had received—that Barbara volunteered to support the Hospice House building construction effort.
“Barbara immediately became a strong force for us,” recalls Hospice Executive Director Barbara Tognoli. “She has remarkable organizational skills. It wasn’t long after she signed on to volunteer that she met Sharon Benninger and Shirley Luke who were then in the midst of planning fundraising projects. Soon the Hospice’s Butterfly Auxiliary was founded and formalized as a permanent affiliate of the Hospice of San Joaquin. Barbara helped manage the first “English Tea and Champagne” fundraiser, an event now in its seventh successful year.
“Then,” adds Tognoli, “there’s our annual ‘Moonlight Sip ’n Stroll.’ Barbara has motivated some 100 vendors, restaurants, wineries and breweries to donate products and time, and she excels in encouraging corporate sponsorships. The ‘Sip ’n Stroll’ is our region’s premier summer event and annually attracts about 1,200 paying guests who contribute nearly $85,000. Overall more than $500,000 has been raised for Hospice House by Butterfly Auxiliary volunteers.
“She was the ‘natural’ selection to be the very first president of the Butterfly Auxiliary which, with Barbara’s continuing as a major participant, is now more than 115 members and three local chapters strong. Currently she is president-elect of the auxiliary’s Stockton chapter. Other chapters are located in Tracy and Lodi, California.
“Barbara shares the clear recognition that Hospice House is a critical service that provides a home-away-from-home for dying patients who do not have a caregiver or who otherwise are unable to spend their final weeks in their own residence. Ever since our 2004 opening, every day of care is supported, in part, by contributions from the Hospice Butterfly Auxiliary to which Barbara Galgiani has been a major facilitator in terms of leadership, vision, creativity, commitment, and—most of all—an endless depth of devotion and compassion for those in need of hospice care.”
A personal testament
Unless beset by the tragedy of terminal illness, many families have only a faint awareness of the specific functions and advantages delivered by hospices. Barbara Galgiani became acquainted with particulars only after her mother had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2001.
“Mother made the decision to forgo chemotherapy or any similar treatments,” says Galgiani. “She was living out here in California with us by then, so we decided to explore hospice care. We learned there was no permanent hospice building in existence in our region but were told that caring, professional hospice nurses visit patients in their homes or in nursing or convalescent settings. We looked briefly at some convalescent-type facilities but opted to remain at home and to engage hospice services there.
“Until Mother passed away a month and a half later, the hospice organization sent a nurse to our home several times a week to oversee Mother’s care and comfort and to see what I needed to help with daily assistance,” Galgiani continues. “During that period of time I became very impressed with the basics of hospice programs. So after Mother passed away I contacted the local hospice group to learn even more.
“That’s when I found out that, for several years, the local organization had been exploring funding for a permanent care facility of its own. But not nearly enough revenue had been generated, so only in-home or nursing home care, as good an alternative as it was, was available in our immediate area. I also discovered that the word ‘hospice’ is defined as a type of care that accepts the responsibility of caring for terminally-ill patients whether in a hospice facility such as ours now, or elsewhere when a Hospice House does not exist nearby. No one is turned away, regardless of financial standings.
“I’m so pleased to have played a small role in working with my many volunteer teammates in, first, raising funds to bring the building program here to fruition in 2004, and to continue to keep it growing and active in the meantime. At our Hospice of San Joaquin facility, each patient has a private room overlooking a garden. Sleeping accommodations are available for visiting family members. There’s a large community room where birthday parties and such functions can be conducted. And, above all, the professional staff supplies 24-hour care. Patients’ comfort is the only thing they focus on.”
Clearly dedicated to her self-chosen community service project, the Hospice of San Joaquin, Barbara makes time for some personal relaxation and recreation when she’s not working with her customers or raising funds for Hospice House. She enjoys reading a good book and with her husband, John, frequently takes road trips in their historically restored Model A or goes cross-country skiing near Lake Tahoe.
The Rough Notes Company proudly adds the name of Barbara Galgiani to the following distinguished list of honorees who preceded her as Community Service Award winners:
2000 Al Singer, Teaneck, New Jersey—initiated People Against Starving Children program.
2001 Dick Lees, Pana, Illinois—promoted funding for local hospital’s emergency unit.
2002 Kenneth Felton, Vero Beach, Florida—impetus to develop local Boys & Girls Clubs.
2003 Jack and Jason Rua, Fall River, Massachusetts—raised funds for United Way.
2004 Harry Swimmer, Charlotte, North Carolina—operates therapeutic horseback riding clinic.
2005 Jim McGovern, Belmont, California—Leukemia & Lymphoma Society program organizer.
2006 J. Douglas Reichart, W. Des Moines, Iowa—chaired local United Way fundraising.
2007 Co-Winner Markham Rollins, Tuckahoe, New York—Bridges to Community (poverty victim housing).
2007 Co-Winner Mark Williamson, Little Rock, Arkansas—Radiation Therapy Institute fundraising.
2008 D. Gaines Lanier, West Point, Georgia—poverty housing reconstruction and Brain Tumor Foundation for Children fundraiser and supporter.
Barbara Galgiani carries the unique distinction of being the first female honored as a Rough Notes Company Community Service Award winner. We proudly congratulate her, and we are grateful for this annual opportunity to relate stories about how Barbara and the other award-winning insurance professionals take volunteerism that extra mile on behalf of their communities’ charitable projects.
At Rough Notes, we are delighted to recognize and publish agents’ and agencies’ good deeds. We encourage our readers to share similar stories about their business associates. Later this year, we will print the procedures and forms explaining how to nominate candidates for the 2010 awards. We welcome and look forward to your entries.
Bob Bloss is a freelance writer based in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania.