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The Saints of Todos Santos: Donna Viglione of The Palapa Society, Volunteer Extraordinaire

By Sergio and Bryan Jauregui, Todos Santos Eco Adventures

She went from managing haute cuisine in Boston to bringing her Bridge-to-English program to local Todos Santos children, and her success shows in the growth of the Palapa Society’s educational and scholarship programs.

Donna Viglione of the Palapa Society is bringing educational opportunities to local children

Donna Viglione was in Boston on Patriot’s Day 1976 explaining to wife of then-presidential candidate Jimmy Carter, Rosalynn Carter, that her (Rosalynn’s) luggage had been stolen out of her (Donna’s) car while they made a campaign stop on the way to the hotel from the airport. Rosalynn was sad because the bible that Jimmy had given her years before was in the luggage. Donna was sad because she thought this snafu pretty much spelled the end of life as she knew it. She was right.

To help the luggage-less future first lady Donna ran around town and bought Rosalynn all of her favorite beauty products, and Rosalynn was very touched by this act of kindness. So touched that when she and Jimmy moved into the White House she invited Donna to a state dinner in honor of German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Now invitations to state dinners at the White House are traditionally bestowed only on the true elites of the business, political and entertainment worlds, not 26-year-old legal secretaries cum campaign volunteers.

Donna was stunned by this remarkable expression of thanks for a kindness she had rendered, and she took to heart what it means to not only help people when you can, but to express gratitude for the kindnesses you have received. Now, the children of Todos Santos are benefitting greatly from these lessons.

Read the rest of Donna’s story on the Todos Santos Eco Adventures’ Blog.