If you’ve got yourself a club — say, the Forest Hill Rotary Club — you’ll want to have an affable, well-connected, fiery type as your president.
How about the former Honorary Consul General of Malta, Milo Vassallo?
Yep, he’ll do well. And it looks as though he’s already making his mark.
Vassallo took the helm of the prestigious club at their weekly meeting July 8 and followed it up with a fundraising event the next night.
That event, held at the private residence of James Matsumoto in Forest Hill, was to benefit the Canadian Landmine Foundation.
Acclaimed harpists Andrew Chan and Erica Goodman provided entertainment for the crowd of over 100 guests.
The event raised about $9,000 for the foundation.
Not a bad start for Vassallo, who has a storied history of building diplomatic, philanthropic and personal bridges. During his career in
Malta as a cable and wireless man, he travelled the world doing stints in Libya, England and Nigeria. A serious devotee of soccer,
Vassallo attended two World Cups, in 1954 and then again in 1966.
“In 1966 I went to all the matches, including when England beat Germany in the final in London,” he said.
These days, Vassallo is the treasurer of the diplomatic corps in Toronto, treasurer of the European Travel Commission and serves on several boards.
Despite such a wide-ranging and impressive resumé, Vassallo kicked off his fundraising initiatives for the Rotary Club in a classic,
humble style: he gave out glass jars to each of the 39 members of the club encouraging them to toss in their pocket change over a period of a year.
“Each member gets a large jar that says ‘Change for Change – Eradicate Polio Now’,” said Vassallo. “At the end of the year I’ll collect the jars.”
But his mission is about more than pocket change. Vassallo wants to change the club itself.
“My (goal) is to increase the membership,” Vassallo said. “I will do it by promoting what the Rotary Club is all about, to get people really interested in what Rotary does.”
Before Vassallo took the presidency he went on a mission to Rotary’s international headquarters in Chicago to learn about the ins and outs of the club’s fundraising methods.
Vassallo said he learned a lot meeting and networking with presidents of other chapters.
He says he’ll continue forging those connections back at home, too.
“Since I came back I made it a point to visit various Rotary Clubs to get to know who their presidents are so that when I phone up and have an idea we can get together and we can do it together.
“Instead of doing it with our club only we’ll get others involved.”
That should be no sweat for a man who’s been called “The King of Networking.”
“I’m not bragging, but people, everywhere I go, they say, ‘Here comes the King of Networking’. The King of Getting People Together. I introduce people at various events.”
Vassallo’s charms are apparent. When the Town Crier stopped by the Marriott Hotel at Yonge and College to photograph Vassallo, he hugged every employee there from the lobby to the driveway.
As the Rotary Club celebrates its 100th anniversary in Canada, Vassallo seems charged and determined to put all that charm to good use at the Forest Hill chapter.
About this article: