Holiday Angels: Vince Rios

Occupation: Retired Vietnam Veteran

Residence: South San Francisco

What he does: Rios is the commander of the American Legion for District Eight, an area that comprises all of San Francisco County. As district commander, a volunteer position, Rios, with the help of his staff, organizes events such as the American Legion Oratorical Contest — a public speaking event aimed at teens — as well as coordinating youth programs like Boys State and the Junior ROTC.

Why he does it: Rios assumed the district commander post after Jim Griffin, the secretary trainer who ran most of the Legions’ day-to-day operations, passed away in 2003. “I wanted to keep the continuity of the Legion running,” said Rios, who was heading the First Division Marine Association at the time of Griffin’s death. “I didn’t want there to be a six- or seven-month wait for new leadership.”

The impact: Rios’ open-door policy at the Legion has eased the minds of many Bay Area vets. “Over the past couple of years we’ve made a concerted effort to reach out to veterans who may have lost faith that the people still support them,” said Rios.

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