Mark Ciavaglia was having one of those days. After getting to work at 6 a.m. he’d been running from meeting to meeting and ended up being late to a gathering of the Texas City Crime Stoppers.
It was one of those days when a person asks himself, “Why do I do this?” Ciavaglia said.
The answer came soon after, when a school police officer told him about a text message he had received through the school’s Safe Sting program. A classmate had been talking about committing suicide, but through the use of the technology, which the Crime Stoppers helped fund, the officer was able to find the student and prevent a tragedy.
“That was a moment, that was like a thump on the back of the head,” Ciavaglia said. “Why do we serve? We serve because God calls us to. We serve because there is a need.”
In Ciavaglia’s case, he is serving the needs of more than just a few people.
For his community service, The Daily News staff chose Ciavaglia as a 2013 Community Champion. He and five others were honored at a recent reception.
Born and raised in Texas City (he can look out of his law office window and see the spot where the hospital he was born in used to be), Ciavaglia is a prolific volunteer in the Texas City community.
Ciavaglia is a director of the Texas City-La Marque Chamber of Commerce; a member of the Rotary Club; the chairman of the Economic Development Corporation; the chairman of the governing board of NCA-Clear Lake Regional Medical Center and a member of his church’s ministry team. He is the past president of the Jaycees, the Noon Optimist Club, the Centennial Celebration’s community outreach committee, Crime Stoppers, the census committee, the community college’s bond advisory committee and the Texas City ISD Education Foundation (an organization he helped found).
It was Ciavaglia who led the charge in 2007 to educate voters about the needs of the city’s schools, leading to a historic bond vote that has led to the construction of five new schools in the city.
“I guess community service is the closest thing I have to a hobby,” Ciavaglia said.
A 1977 graduate of Texas City High School, Ciavaglia briefly left home to try his hand at architecture school. But that wasn’t for him, and he returned home to work for years at his father’s auto shop.
It wasn’t until he was 27 that he decided he needed to earn a college degree. So he began attending classes at the College of the Mainland, a path that eventually led to an accounting degree from the University of Houston and a law degree from South Texas College of Law.
He pursued his degrees tirelessly, while at the same time raising three children with his wife, Sharon.
“It was very challenging, but by the grace of God and a whole lot of coffee, I was able to persevere,” Ciavaglia said.
Ciavaglia’s work has not gone unnoticed by others in the community.
“He is the person that you want to have on your team,” said Jimmy Hayley, the longtime president of the Texas City Chamber of Commerce. “You want him to be your friend, and after he is your friend, you’re glad he’s there.”