Bob Mallicoat was a dear friend who enriched my life with his passion for Sertoma, his sense of humor, his insights, his kindness, and as a force for good. He was and always will be a hero of mine. He made me a better person and I wish I had told him as much, but I’m sure he knew. After all, that was his mission in life, to improve individuals who could go on to contribute and make a difference in their community and beyond.
If you are lucky you will have people who come in to your life who offer you friendship, wisdom, experience, and advice without any conditions or judgements. Bob Mallicoat was just such a person in my life. Bob was a founding member of the Leona Valley Sertoma Club and a past President of Sertoma International, a service organization founded in 1912. The name Sertoma is derived from the phrase “Service To Mankind”, which is the cornerstone of Sertoma International. To me, and I know to many others, Bob was the living embodiment of what Sertoma is and does. He was a tireless crusader for Sertoma and for all Sertomans.
Bob believed it takes strong communities to make a strong country and recognized that building strong communities meant building up the people who live and work in the communities. As a member of Leona Valley Sertoma, I saw how this worked in a very personal way. I was part of a team, a family really, that focused on improving the quality of life for everyone in our communities. As a member, I participated on committees, in the planning and in setting up events, and on the governing body of the club. This experience is exactly what Bob felt built up the individual and gave him/her the skills and the confidence to be a leader in their community and beyond.
It’s easy to look for ways to improve your own backyard, but to broaden your view you must reach higher and see beyond your own needs. There is your community, which is your neighbors, but beyond that there is the next community, and the next, with each being a collection of neighbors, as well. The higher you climb, the further you see, and the larger your community becomes. From such a vantage point, it is easier to see how our actions on a small scale have the ability to make a greater impact, much like the ripples that move outward from a stone tossed in the water.
I had the opportunity to interview Bob sometime in early 2004 for a DVD project I produced for Leona Valley Sertoma. We talked for an hour, or more, but I felt these moments best expressed how Bob felt Sertoma impacted his life and its ability to build people and communities.