For most of South San Diego, you may not have know it, but last Saturday we were living in Al Alvarado’s world. On June 23, Al celebrated his 80th birthday and the City of San Diego, National City, and Chula Vista, along with a Congressional Proclamation declared it “Al Alvarado Day.” There was quite an impressive list of dignitaries who honored Al. He was even named an honorary police officer of National City.
Normally, celebrating 80 years of someone’s life and mentioning honors and proclamations are not the usual stuff of an editorial. But in the case of Al Alvarado, the honors which were bestowed upon him were from far-ranging groups such as the Chamber of Commerce and the San Diego County Boys’ International Baseball Team. It demonstrated that this was a man that went far beyond the call of duty. All too often we recognize the feats of the famous and popular and declare them heroes. In fact, the real heroes are ordinary citizens who are like Al, a person who goes beyond doing his job in an effort to make his community a better place for all.
Al Alvarado in his quiet, humble manner is a leader in the community. It first started when he brought the union to the water company he worked for, only to be fired for his efforts. Later, he helped the cities of National City and Chula Vista buy the water company and create the Sweetwater Water District which now serves both cities. Al cut his political teeth on the union issue, which led to a career in politics. He worked to get the first elected Hispanic to the National City city council, Louis Camacho, among others, and has served as special assistant to Congressman Filner for the past 20 years.
Al went beyond his job and volunteered to serve as a Parks and Recreation Commissioner as well as being a Planning Commissioner for the City of National City. And if that is not enough, he founded the San Diego County Boys’ Baseball Team, USA, with the intent of giving the young boys in National City an opportunity to travel around the country. This program has grown to the point that it is now an international baseball team with its players visiting such places as China, Japan, Mexico, and Australia, giving these boys a lifetime experience. Players such as Adrian Gonzalez and Benji Gil have been a part of his teams.
For Al Alvarado, politics is a family affair. His wife Rosalie Alvarado serves on the National City School Board and his daughter Mona Rios serves on the National City Council.
Heroes come in many different forms. In his way, Al Alvarado has become a local hero by doing what he believed to be what is right and good for the communities within the South Bay, and by going way beyond the confines of his job and personal goals. He has touched a great many people by assisting them, improved his community through his volunteering, and expanded the horizons of many young men. For all these reasons and many more June 23rd was Al Alvarado Day in the City of San Diego, National City, and Chula Vista.
We need more Al Alvarados in our communities!