BREVARD COUNTY, Fla.Pamela Gatto had two little boys and a three-month-old baby girl when her father, Mike Gatto, asked her to help him with his tire store.
It was supposed to be for two weeks, Ms. Gatto recalled. That was 42 years ago.
She diligently dived into the family business, eventually becoming president of Gatto's Tires & Auto Service in Melbourne, Fla., in 1994. Now Ms. Gatto oversees a thriving seven-store retail and commercial tire and automotive service business in Brevard County.
She also has earned a reputation for her many philanthropic endeavors. Ms. Gatto, you see, is no slouch when it comes to sharing her time, talent and treasure.
Because of all her charitable and civic work, she is among a group of individuals who are recipients of the 2014 Central Florida Humanitarian Awardswhich were created to recognize outstanding individuals and organizations that dedicate their time, talent or treasure to help people in need locally and around the world, according Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine, which sponsors the annual event.
Ms. Gatto and other recipients will be honored on Nov. 6 at the annual awards dinner gala at the Hilton Melbourne Rialto Place.
Her charity work began with the Junior League of South Brevard, where she served as past president.
I enjoyed it so I branched out into other things, Ms. Gatto said.
And she didn't just branch outshe sprouted vigorously, for Ms. Gatto currently is or has been on the board of many of Brevard's most important charities.
Her current focus, she said, is in providing greater access to quality healthcare to all county residents.
As vice chairman of the Brevard Health Alliance, Ms. Gatto also has served as a board member of Health First and as vice-chair of Holmes Regional Medical Center and Palm Bay Hospital, not to mention as chair of Viera Hospital.
As past board member of the Health First Foundation, she helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars to help the hospital system provide additional medical services and technology.
It's a safe bet to say Ms. Gatto supports most fundraisers in the county.
We have a lot of very worthy causes, she said.
Her community support extends well beyond just healthcare, encompassing the area's economic growth as past chair of the Brevard Workforce Development Board.
So-called culture vultures in the area can thank Ms. Gatto for her efforts as past chair of the Brevard Museum and Science, now the Foosaner Art Museum.
Ms. Gatto has been president of the Space Coast Tiger Bay Club and board member of Florida Tech's School of Psychology. She was on the board of Junior Achievement of East Central Florida, the Melbourne-Palm Bay Area Cham-ber of Commerce and in Florida Tech's Athletic Advisory Council.
In her work, Ms. Gatto has earned plenty of professional kudos. She was selected the first woman to preside over the Florida Independent Tire Dealers and Retreaders Association, which also inducted her into its hall of fame.
She also was the first female president of the Tire Association of North Americaforerunner to today's Tire Industry Associationand an inductee to the International Tire Industry Hall of Fame.
In appreciation for all efforts for the betterment of Brevard, Florida Today magazine named Ms. Gatto a finalist in the annual Citizen of the Year Award in 1998 and crowned her Volunteer of the Year in 2000.
She is the 2010 Brevard County Entrepreneur of the Year and was selected a Junior Achievement Laureate in 2013.
I can't say no, Ms. Gatto said.
It's my worst fault or my best trait, but I enjoy helping to make things happen.
Maria Sonnenberg is a reporter for Merritt Island, Fla.-based Space Coast Medicine & Active Living magazine. This story is used with permission from Maverick Multimedia Inc. and Brevard Productions Inc.
This report first appeared on www.tirebusiness.com.