El Cajon’s 2017 Citizen of the Year

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It was a notable day as Joe Garzanelli graciously accepted his 2017 El Cajon Citizen of the Year award, nominated by The East County Chamber of Commerce and St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center. Hosted by the El Cajon Valley Lions Club the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Citizen of the Year Luncheon on Feb. 5 at the El Cajon Elks Lodge. 

It was a notable day as Joe Garzanelli graciously accepted his 2017 El Cajon Citizen of the Year award, nominated by The East County Chamber of Commerce and St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center. Hosted by the El Cajon Valley Lions Club the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce held its Annual Citizen of the Year Luncheon on Feb. 5 at the El Cajon Elks Lodge. 

Owner and operating principal of Keller Williams Realty, Garzanelli is not only known as a vibrant businessman, but also for more than 40 years of helping others in the community.

Public Information Officer for the City of El Cajon Monica Zech said the day was for celebrating three successful people that make El Cajon a better place to live. Also recognized were Waste Management’s Community and Municipal Relations Representative Kristine Costa, and Founder/President of EXCELL Security, Inc. Joe Mackey, both nominated by the El Cajon Rotary Club. Zech said not only was it nice in recognizing all three as leaders in the community, but also as friends.

St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center CEO Debra Emerson said Garzanelli works, and works and volunteers in the community at such a high level and is so deserving of this award.

“Joe lives, works, and I think he has some fun out there in the community and it is such a pleasure to know him and work with him,” she said. “Joe does so much for our community in every different way.” In 2014, Garzanelli helped in the organization of St. Madeleine’s inaugural golf tournament.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells said working for the city can be rewarding and bumpy at times, but what makes the work so valuable is the people that get involved, many without accolades. He said all three nominations were great people in the community and worthy of the award.

“But Joe Garzanelli is exactly the kind of person that our community needs,” he said. “He operates at an extremely high level and brings a level of professionalism to the city that we are very blessed with what we have in him.”

Garzanelli said he had been blessed with many friends in his life and as he looked around the room, working with wonderful organizations it expanded that friendship. “The service clubs, we know how valuable it is in what they do in every single community and we can’t thank them enough,” he said. He said his history with the service organizations and the political leaders was long and made a large impact on his involvement in El Cajon after moving from the Midwest to El Cajon.

Garzanelli is well known for helping start the local Drug Abuse Resistance Education, changing the name to El Cajon Youth Development Advisory Council, now known as Stoney’s Kids, an organization he is still passionately involved in today. He was director and board member of the SDECCOC, a member since 1995. Garzanelli supports other local organizations both individually and as a business with his time and money. The East County Boys and Girls Club, Lions, Tigers & Bears, Home of Guiding Hands and St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center.

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