MENIFEE – For his active involvement in the community and his unwavering assistance to the Arts Council Menifee, Mike Castillejos has been selected as the Ambassador and Artist of the Month for July.
“ACM appreciates Mike’s enthusiasm and willingness to promote individual artists as well as his overall support of the organization,” trustee Colleen Ackerman said. “In addition, Mike is a talented drummer and singer that participates in karaoke at several local venues, hence the honor of Ambassador Artist of the Month.”
Growing up in Pico Rivera near Los Angeles, Castillejos got a job at a bank while still in high school. He earned his business administration degree from California State University Long Beach while continuing to work his way up the ranks. He spent 28 years with Bank of America.
Castillejos and his family moved to Sun City in 1989 and quickly adapted to the small-town vibe it offered. His lifetime career in the banking industry included 17 years as bank manager at Sun City’s US Bank, formerly Downey Savings. He retired April 5.
The last several years he worked there, Castillejos allowed ACM artists to display their work in the bank’s lobby for the enjoyment of its customers. This highly-visible “art wall” not only served as a reminder of the talented artists in the local community, but it also increased awareness of the nonprofit organization that has been fulfilling a vital mission to encourage the arts in Menifee through advocacy, enrichment and opportunity.
“Mike would always come over to meet the artist when we hung their work,” she said. “He said people who came into the bank always enjoyed the art.”
ACM member Edie Schmoll of Sun City, who showed her artwork at the bank in February, recalled Castillejos being very kind and helpful when they showed up.
“Mike came out of his office with a claw hammer and nails and moved the table out for us, a very nice person,” Schmoll said.
He also volunteered at ACM’s first Menifee’s Got Talent event at Heritage High, has helped with the sound system at Menifee Arts Showcase events and has helped set up for other activities when needed.
ACM is not the only organization that benefits from the generosity of Castillejos’ volunteerism. He has been involved with the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce for many years in various roles and on many different committees and has served as a former chairman of the board.
Castillejos has been named its Citizen of Year in 2011, 2015 and was chosen again, June 23.
“I have always seen value in my membership and have freely volunteered my time for the benefit of the chamber and its members,” he said.
He has been involved with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic-based fraternal organization, for the past 19 years and is currently serving in the appointed role of financial secretary. He is active with local events that benefit children, veterans and all of Menifee’s citizens.
Castillejos just completed his 10th year on the planning committee for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life Menifee.
He is the current treasurer for the Rotary Club of Menifee and is very involved with the community’s youth through the club’s educational programs and its mission of “service above self.”
His love and appreciation of music and the arts has always been a big part of his life. He was the drummer for assorted bands in high school and college and part of an eight-person traveling troupe during his senior year at Montebello’s Cantwell College Prep Catholic high school. The group would put on little skits throughout the neighboring communities.
An enterprising man from an early age, Castillejos recalls always being up for a challenge.
“After graduating high school, three of us put on ‘Bye, Bye Birdie’ at the Pasadena Playhouse,” he said. “We used mostly kids from our high school and put the whole show together ourselves; we did the stage sets, orchestra, lighting, costumes, everything – all with our own money.”
He and his wife, Darci, built the French Valley Cafe at the French Valley Airport in Murrieta, and she has operated it for the past 17 years. They have two children, Nikki and Ricky, and one granddaughter. For more information, visit www.artscouncilmenifee.org or call (951) 290-2781.