Congratulations to Rotary District 5150 Rotarian of the Month - October 2020, Roberto Novoa from the Rotary Club of San Francisco Greater Mission.

Born and raised in San Francisco, California, Roberto just celebrated his 54th birthday on October 5th.   An alumni at Riordan High School and City College of San Francisco, Roberto graduated with an aircraft maintenance certificate and worked for United Airlines for 17 years.  In 2005, he became self-employed doing property management and maintenance for clients all around the city.  He own a building by Mission Dolores Park that was converted to Airbnb rentals for some time now.

Roberto Novoa in his words ….

“Today, my main job is caring for my 87 year old mother.  After my father died two years ago,  she moved into a cottage that I once rented out on Airbnb.  It's been an honor to be able to give back to her.  One of my proudest moments while under my care for her was the opportunity of taking her to Burning Man in 2019.  I’ve been a volunteer for this art and music festival for a few years now and she was the one that asked to go with me.  She had a wonderful time and raved about her experience to everyone who would listen.  We would have gone again this year if it hadn’t been canceled. 

Being of service is a big part of my life, I struggled with substance issues for years and once I got sober 8 years ago, my self centeredness came to a halt.  I changed my life and a shift happened within me.   I looked at the world differently now.  I came to the realization that I wanted to live with purpose and not be self absorbed.  I realized that the missing link to happiness is to give back.   So when I met the club president Leticia Luna at a party, it was very serendipitous that she approached me to go visit the club.  This was my Rotary moment… I was looking for more ways I could be of service and it just clicked for me when I attended the first meeting.  Everyone was happy and welcomed me and true to Rotary tradition, they made me the club president. 

Looking back, it was a humbling experience and it helped me with the grieving for my father.  On my way to PETS, I received the phone call from my older sister that my father had passed.   It was unexpected.  I just saw him the night before.  I was in the car with Bruce Lyons and asked him to turn around and take me back to the city.  This was a hard time for me but my new self awareness of being of service helped me get through it.  I promised my dad that I would take care of mom and make him proud.  Needless to say, I never made it to PETS but continued as club president.  

My new Rotary family came through for me with love and support.  They were of service to me when I needed it the most.  Shortly after being president, I suggested to the club that we consider Martin de Porres (soup kitchen) as a possible service project.  This was an organization that I volunteered for prior to Rotary and it was conveniently located down the street from our morning meeting location.  Today, it's one of our club service projects. We humbly make soup and serve it to the homeless.   Another one I suggested was Mission Science Workshop. This organization teaches underprivileged children science in a very interactive way that keeps them interested.  Our members have had the opportunity to help facilitate a workshop and social event with the children.  We have continued to support MSW with grants.    

Outside of Rotary, I have two boys that I have adopted emotionally and help financially. I have an 86 year old grandfather as well that I help support. They all live in Thailand.  Today, I’m full of gratitude for the life I have. I became vegan three years ago and I feel the healthiest I have in years.  I did it to be of service to the animals who don’t have a voice and to help bring awareness to climate change.  I finally have a sense of balance in my life. I can honestly say that my body is my temple.  Nothing had to die for me to be alive and I feel connected to everything on this beautiful planet.   As a Rotarian, I consider myself as a leader and it's my duty to lead by example.”

“Be the change that you with to see in the world” Gandhi

Once again, congratulations to Roberto Novoa from the Rotary Club of San Francisco Greater Mission as our "Rotarian of the Month" in October 2020!