Rotarian, Paul Gonnelli, Jr., owned the Phillips 66 Service Station on Federal Highway near to where Mizner Park is located today.
Paul operated his business by the Rotary Principles contained in the Four-Way Test, particularly the credo “Will it be Beneficial to All Concerned?” He and his service team performed by focusing on customer service and developed success through a large, loyal following of repeat clients.
Paul felt that his primary interest in being a Rotarian, was to look for ways to expand community service, one of Rotary’s Four Main Missions, to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise. The Four Avenues of the Credo are designated as: International, Vocational, Community and Club Service.
Gonnelli was an enthusiastic participant in all Rotary’s efforts to perform projects, activities and events that would grow community spirit and serve the citizens.
Thus, it was a natural fit for Gonnelli to offer to help a local Boca resident, Frank Blome, a 37-year-old, independent house painter, with no health insurance, suffering from congestive heart failure, and in desperate need of an organ transplant, that he could not afford.
After learning of Blome’s situation, Paul launched (mostly single-handedly) a community wide campaign to organize many local events, fairs, pot luck dinners, etc. He solicited donations from local churches, civic community, and social clubs, and others to partner, aiming for a heart for Frank Blome.
The Rotary Club of Boca Raton embraced the initiative started by Paul Gonnelli, and the town and its citizens joined the crusade to “Get Frank a Heart”, and within a few months, the total reached near to the targeted fund goal of $200,000.00.
The happy ending is the hospital that was to perform the procedure, agreed to proceed with the transplant, accepting the amount raised, and saved Frank’s life.
It should be mentioned that Paul Gonnelli, started his mission to raise a massive sum to save another’s life, before he had ever personally met Frank Blome!
In true Rotary spirit, Paul said about the life changing fundraising experience, “I just like to help needy people”.
Paul demonstrates the best Rotary principle of true “Community Service”, and Rotary’s International Theme, “Service Above Self”.