gmhTODAY 24 gmhTODAY Feb March 2019 | Page 34

“We’re all here on Earth to do something. I’d been searching for something and it turned out to be One Giving Tree. This program brings joy to people who’ve been hurt or deprived of things we take for granted, like a Christmas tree and gifts for the family. It’s a loving gesture that can change a life.” Debbi Sanchez One Giving Tree Founder & Board of Directors Member Debbi Sanchez is a dedicated and effective community leader whose smile lights up the room wherever she goes. She’s also a breast cancer survivor with a deep appreciation for lasting personal relationships. After her fi ve-year battle with cancer, doctors confi rmed she was in full remission. At the age of 42, Debbi trav- eled to Africa on a mission trip. Returning home, she joined Fortino Winery as Event Coordinator to work on a variety of events, including weddings. At the same time, she jumped into community service. She went through the Leadership Gilroy program and joined the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce where she became a Chamber Ambassador and then served on its board of directors, including a term as Board Chair. Four years ago, Debbie and her husband Mike embarked on what would become a central mission: One Giving Tree. Every year, they work with Community 34 Solutions, Rebekah Children’s Services, and other partners to gather donated Christmas trees, tree decorations, and gifts, all of which are distributed just before Christmas to families who lack the fi nancial means to have their own holiday celebrations. Every year, the program continues to grow as volunteers respond to needs in the community. Along with her service on the Board of Directors for One Giving Tree, Debbi also serves on the board of St. Louise Regional Hospital, and the Advisory Boards of Rebekah Children’s Services, the Gilroy Rodeo, and the Bonanza Day Parade. In 2017, Debbi was honored as Volunteer of the Year by the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce. She lives in Gilroy with her husband, Mike, who owns Effect Social Media, a marketing services company. They have a daughter, Nicci, and three grandchildren, Hayden, Rossi, and Makena.