Gift of Life District 7190 >> About Us

Mission Statement

Gift of Life is committed to providing hope to children from developing countries with heart disease, regardless of their gender, creed, or national origin, by supporting autonomous GOL programs in an effort to care for these children in need and to coordinate the development of sustainable pediatric cardiac surgery, catheterization and aftercare programs in select countries through the empowerment of local healthcare professionals.

Our History

1984

Gift of Life District 7190 Founded

Dr. Samuel S Ciccio was inspired by the work of the Manhasset Rotary Club on Long Island. Following a meeting with Robbie Donno, he committed to creating the District 7190 chapter, serving as its’ first President, alongside Richard Hodge who served as Treasurer.

1985

First Gift of Life Child Treated

The first operation was performed at Albany Medical Center for Katya Bariozzi, a young girl from Venezuela.

2003

Gift of Life International Founded

Gift of Life International was formed in 2003 and now includes 81 Gift of Life programs, 241 Rotary Clubs and 52 Rotary Districts around the world

2003

First Mission Trip to the Dominican Republic

15 Mission Trips since have resulted in 171  children receiving life saving Surgeries and 115 Catheratizations

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2013

First Mission Trips to El Salvador, Jamaica, and Zambia

38 Children received life saving surgeries  and catheratizations

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2016

First Mission Trips to Romania

7 Missions since have resulted in 82 children receiving life saving surgeries and 58 cardiac catheterizations.

 

2018

Launched Romanian Local Team

Romanian trained local team performed 50 life saving surgeries in Romania and Israel.

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Since Inception

Since 1975, over 30,000 Children Treated

Over 2,000 children are now being helped each year through our global network. Since 1975, over 30,000 children with heart disease from 79 countries have been treated.

Gift of Life District 7190 has directly helped 355 young people from over 20 Countries with heart saving surgeries and we want to do MORE.

Each Year

Every Year 1.3 million Children Born with Heart Defect

Every year 1.3 million children are born with a congenital heart defect and 93% are born in a country that has no capacity to help them

What We Do

Surgeries in the NY area – We work with other Gift of Life programs on five continents in order to provide care to children. Children who come to New York for assistance are often recommended by participating programs or other medical teams who examine the children near where they live. Often parents themselves research the internet looking to help their children. The program in the home country helps to coordinate transportation to the US, obtain passports and visas and assure that the child and parent have round trip travel to New York. The Gift of Life program handles all activity from the time the family arrives in New York until they leave. Most families stay between 4 and 6 weeks, stay with a host family that volunteers to provide room, meals and a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. All travel to medical appointments, medication and incidental expenses are covered by the Gift of Life.

Mission Trips – Gift of Life also participates in medical training and screening missions to several countries. In effect, this brings the medical care to the child rather than bringing the child to the US. In a screening mission, a team of medical professionals including doctors, surgeons and nurses will visit the country for a week or more, evaluate a number of children and treat as many as possible either through non-interventional means or surgical procedures. Complex cases are referred to participating hospitals here in the US or other programs around the world. A training mission is similar except that in addition to the team treating the children, they also work with local medical professionals to train them in the latest procedures and practices.

Board of Directors

Tom Burdick

Tom Burdick

President, Empire Financial Advisors, Inc.

President, Rotary District 7190 Gift of Life

Tom Burdick earned a BA in Industrial and Labor Relations from Potsdam University. Tom is President of Empire Financial Advisors, Inc., a financial planning firm in Latham, NY. He has 30 years of financial planning experience.

Tom is a current member and past president of the Delmar Rotary, Tom is also a current board member of the Delmar Rotary Foundation. He serves as President of Rotary District 7190 Gift of Life.

Tom Burdick

President, Empire Financial Advisors, Inc.
Tom Burdick

Tom Burdick

President, Empire Financial Advisors, Inc.

President, Rotary District 7190 Gift of Life

Tom Burdick earned a BA in Industrial and Labor Relations from Potsdam University. Tom is President of Empire Financial Advisors, Inc., a financial planning firm in Latham, NY. He has 30 years of financial planning experience.

Tom is a current member and past president of the Delmar Rotary, Tom is also a current board member of the Delmar Rotary Foundation. He serves as President of Rotary District 7190 Gift of Life.

Pat Herman

Pat Herman

Retired Social Services

Graduate of SUNY Albany with a degree in psychology and combined studies. My pride and joy are my 3 sons and 5 grandchildren. My work in social services was most rewarding. I have been a member of the Schenectady Rotary Club for 30 years and a member of Gift of Life for many of those years. I serve as secretary on the Board of Directors. It is such a joy to be a part of something that promotes love and life around the world.

Pat Herman

Retired Social Services
Pat Herman

Pat Herman

Retired Social Services

Graduate of SUNY Albany with a degree in psychology and combined studies. My pride and joy are my 3 sons and 5 grandchildren. My work in social services was most rewarding. I have been a member of the Schenectady Rotary Club for 30 years and a member of Gift of Life for many of those years. I serve as secretary on the Board of Directors. It is such a joy to be a part of something that promotes love and life around the world.

Robert Rosoff

Robert Rosoff

Retired Director, Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra

Robert Rosoff joined the Gift of Life Board of Directors in 2017 and was appointed assistant treasurer eventually becoming treasurer.
Robert was elected as a board member in July 2018.

He retired as executive director of the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra in December 2011 and he is a member, and past president, of the Rotary Club of Glens Falls.

Robert Rosoff

Retired Director, Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra
Robert Rosoff

Robert Rosoff

Retired Director, Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra

Robert Rosoff joined the Gift of Life Board of Directors in 2017 and was appointed assistant treasurer eventually becoming treasurer.
Robert was elected as a board member in July 2018.

He retired as executive director of the Glens Falls Symphony Orchestra in December 2011 and he is a member, and past president, of the Rotary Club of Glens Falls.

Elena Alvarez

Elena Alvarez

International Consultant, Agricultural Development

Retired SUNY faculty member and currently working as an international consultant in Agricultural Development. Elena has done extensive consulting with the United Nations including the United Nations Development Programme, US AID and other United States agencies, and other foreign organizations.

Dr. Alvarez holds a Doctorate degree from the New School for Social Research, a Master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, and a Licenciatura and Bachelor degrees from Catholic University of...Read More

Elena Alvarez

International Consultant, Agricultural Development
Elena Alvarez

Elena Alvarez

International Consultant, Agricultural Development

Retired SUNY faculty member and currently working as an international consultant in Agricultural Development. Elena has done extensive consulting with the United Nations including the United Nations Development Programme, US AID and other United States agencies, and other foreign organizations.

Dr. Alvarez holds a Doctorate degree from the New School for Social Research, a Master’s degree from Pennsylvania State University, and a Licenciatura and Bachelor degrees from Catholic University of Peru. She is the mother of two adult children and resides with her husband in Schenectady, New York. She is active with the Rotary of Schenectady

Dr Alvarez is interested in the Gift of Life program because she has witnessed the needs of children in low-income families in the Third World who will benefit from this program.

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Dr. Melissa Ehlers

Dr. Melissa Ehlers

Director of Pediatric Anesthesia, Albany Medical Center

Dr. Ehlers has been a member of the GOL Board since 2005. She is director of pediatric anesthesia at Albany Medical Center and helps coordinate mission trips to other countries, as well as performing as a liaison when we bring a child here for an operation. She has personally gone on at least seven mission trips sponsored by Gift of Life to Honduras and to the Dominican Republic. She and her husband Patrick have two boys, Ronan and Jameson.

Dr. Melissa Ehlers

Director of Pediatric Anesthesia, Albany Medical Center
Dr. Melissa Ehlers

Dr. Melissa Ehlers

Director of Pediatric Anesthesia, Albany Medical Center

Dr. Ehlers has been a member of the GOL Board since 2005. She is director of pediatric anesthesia at Albany Medical Center and helps coordinate mission trips to other countries, as well as performing as a liaison when we bring a child here for an operation. She has personally gone on at least seven mission trips sponsored by Gift of Life to Honduras and to the Dominican Republic. She and her husband Patrick have two boys, Ronan and Jameson.

Milan Jackson

Milan Jackson

Retired Military

Past District Governor District 7190 (2015-16)
Member of Rotary Club of Cobleskill, NY.
Retired Military - joined Rotary in Philippines in 1984.
Founding member Gift of Life New England 2000.

Joined Gift of Life District 7190 in 2012.
My wife is a member of Rotary. I have three sons, my oldest son and his wife are also members of Rotary

As an avid supporter of Gift of Life, we save lives and build bridges - there is nothing better.

Milan Jackson

Retired Military
Milan Jackson

Milan Jackson

Retired Military

Past District Governor District 7190 (2015-16)
Member of Rotary Club of Cobleskill, NY.
Retired Military - joined Rotary in Philippines in 1984.
Founding member Gift of Life New England 2000.

Joined Gift of Life District 7190 in 2012.
My wife is a member of Rotary. I have three sons, my oldest son and his wife are also members of Rotary

As an avid supporter of Gift of Life, we save lives and build bridges - there is nothing better.

Mark A. Juda, Esq.

Mark A. Juda, Esq.

Juda Law Office, PLLC

Mark Juda earned his BA from Canisius College in Political Science and his JD from Ohio Northern University. Mark is the founding partner of Juda Law Office, PLLC, a criminal and civil litigation firm in Schenectady, New York. He has over 25 years of litigation experience.

Mark is a current member and past president of the Schenectady Rotary Club. Mark is also a current board member of the Schenectady Rotary Foundation.

Mark A. Juda, Esq.

Juda Law Office, PLLC
Mark A. Juda, Esq.

Mark A. Juda, Esq.

Juda Law Office, PLLC

Mark Juda earned his BA from Canisius College in Political Science and his JD from Ohio Northern University. Mark is the founding partner of Juda Law Office, PLLC, a criminal and civil litigation firm in Schenectady, New York. He has over 25 years of litigation experience.

Mark is a current member and past president of the Schenectady Rotary Club. Mark is also a current board member of the Schenectady Rotary Foundation.

Peter A Mason

Peter A Mason

Retired Agent, Nationwide

BS in Economics from Russell Sage College, Troy
Nationwide Agent from 1972 - 2015

Menands Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, Past Pres St. Pius X Parish Council, Latham Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts of America Ft Orange District Chair -Silver Beaver Award, Past board member of Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.

Married to Theresa. Children Peter, Christopher, Matthew (Maggie) and Caitlin (Nicholas) one grandson, Jacob

In my over 30 years in Rotary the Gift of Life has recharged me to live up to t...Read More

Peter A Mason

Retired Agent, Nationwide
Peter A Mason

Peter A Mason

Retired Agent, Nationwide

BS in Economics from Russell Sage College, Troy
Nationwide Agent from 1972 - 2015

Menands Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, Past Pres St. Pius X Parish Council, Latham Knights of Columbus, Boy Scouts of America Ft Orange District Chair -Silver Beaver Award, Past board member of Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.

Married to Theresa. Children Peter, Christopher, Matthew (Maggie) and Caitlin (Nicholas) one grandson, Jacob

In my over 30 years in Rotary the Gift of Life has recharged me to live up to the four-way test of Rotary. It is taking the opportunity to put into practice what we are taught in church and our service organizations. To be a small part in healing the heart of one so vulnerable, is a wonderful feeling.

William (Bill) Nathan

William (Bill) Nathan

Owner, Nathan Office Interiors

Member, Albany Rotary. PDG 2011-12.
Owner, Nathan Office Interiors, an office furniture dealer, Slingerlands, NY. Board Member, LaSalle School for Boys. Board Member, Jewish Family Services. Supporter, Pine Hollow Arboretum. Alumnus, Brown University, 1964. Wife, Elizabeth (Betty).

William (Bill) Nathan

Owner, Nathan Office Interiors
William (Bill) Nathan

William (Bill) Nathan

Owner, Nathan Office Interiors

Member, Albany Rotary. PDG 2011-12.
Owner, Nathan Office Interiors, an office furniture dealer, Slingerlands, NY. Board Member, LaSalle School for Boys. Board Member, Jewish Family Services. Supporter, Pine Hollow Arboretum. Alumnus, Brown University, 1964. Wife, Elizabeth (Betty).

Bob Rice

Bob Rice

Co-Owner, Saratoga Land Management Corp.

Board Member, Rotary District 7190 Gift of Life.
Society of American Foresters, Certified Forester.
BS in Natural Resources Management from the College of ESF at Syracuse.

Co-owner of Saratoga Land Management Corp., having 40 years of experience in the field of forest management.

Co-founded the Rotary Club of Wilton in 2002 and joined Gift of Life that same year.

Bob Rice

Co-Owner, Saratoga Land Management Corp.
Bob Rice

Bob Rice

Co-Owner, Saratoga Land Management Corp.

Board Member, Rotary District 7190 Gift of Life.
Society of American Foresters, Certified Forester.
BS in Natural Resources Management from the College of ESF at Syracuse.

Co-owner of Saratoga Land Management Corp., having 40 years of experience in the field of forest management.

Co-founded the Rotary Club of Wilton in 2002 and joined Gift of Life that same year.

Guillermo Trujillo

Guillermo Trujillo

Advisor, Edward Jones Financial

Guillermo lives in Glenville, NY.
President of the Glenville Rotary club (2018-2019). He is the proud father of two boys, Tyler and Alexander, who remind him of how precious and innocent children are and why GOL’s work is so important.
Guillermo works as an Edward Jones Financial Advisor helping families and individuals protect and grow their wealth.
Rotary District 7190 Gift of Life Board of Directors since July 2015.
During his time on the board, he has witnessed the incredible impact of...Read More

Guillermo Trujillo

Advisor, Edward Jones Financial
Guillermo Trujillo

Guillermo Trujillo

Advisor, Edward Jones Financial

Guillermo lives in Glenville, NY.
President of the Glenville Rotary club (2018-2019). He is the proud father of two boys, Tyler and Alexander, who remind him of how precious and innocent children are and why GOL’s work is so important.
Guillermo works as an Edward Jones Financial Advisor helping families and individuals protect and grow their wealth.
Rotary District 7190 Gift of Life Board of Directors since July 2015.
During his time on the board, he has witnessed the incredible impact of many lifesaving surgeries that Gift of Life has performed on children all over the world.

Dawn Vavala

Dawn Vavala

Owner, Nite Owl Marketing

Charter member and past president of the Twin Bridges Rotary Club.
Assistant Governor in Rotary District 7190.
Dawn is a lifelong Capital District resident who grew up in Schenectady, NY. She graduated from Siena College in 1990 with a BS in Finance and is currently the owner of a customized clothing and promotional goods company named Nite Owl Marketing.
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Dawn got involved in the Gift of Life program after witnessing first hand, a child’s life saved, due to the efforts of the organizati...Read More

Dawn Vavala

Owner, Nite Owl Marketing
Dawn Vavala

Dawn Vavala

Owner, Nite Owl Marketing

Charter member and past president of the Twin Bridges Rotary Club.
Assistant Governor in Rotary District 7190.
Dawn is a lifelong Capital District resident who grew up in Schenectady, NY. She graduated from Siena College in 1990 with a BS in Finance and is currently the owner of a customized clothing and promotional goods company named Nite Owl Marketing.
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Dawn got involved in the Gift of Life program after witnessing first hand, a child’s life saved, due to the efforts of the organization. Dawn believes there is nothing more important than saving the life of a child and helping them to live a long healthy life.

Board Members – Not Pictured
Leyhane, James, MD
McGlauflin, Dennis
Strait, Ellen
Suker, Richard-VP
Welty, Richard
Wyllie, Barbara