While Alvarez currently serves as president of the Rotary Club of Coral Gables, he became hooked on volunteerism after experiencing the intangible rewards one receives from hands-on volunteer efforts.
Educated at an all-boys Catholic school for 12 years in the city of Ponce, PR, he moved to the mainland U.S. for college. Completing two years at Georgia Tech, he enlisted for a four-year tour of duty in the U.S. Navy, and then returned to Georgia Tech to earn an MS in Industrial Management.
He then moved on to New Orleans and during his 18 years there married Annette Green Alvarez and graduated from the LSU Graduate School of Banking of the South, a three-year program co-sponsored by the American Bankers Association (ABA) and LSU’s School of Business.
It was in New Orleans that Alvarez first became involved with volunteerism when he joined a local chapter of the Jaycees. A member of that chapter for 15 years, he also became a member of the board of directors of The Kingsley House. That United Way community impact partner, founded in 1896, provides nationally accredited and state certified programs to infants, children, youth, parents, senior citizens and medically fragile adults from 12 parishes (counties) throughout southeastern Louisiana.
In addition, Alvarez and his wife also became active members of the New Orleans Council for International Visitors, a sister council to the Miami Council for International Visitors. These councils (90 in all across the U.S.) are volunteer organizations that specialize in citizen diplomacy with the encouragement and assistance of the U.S. State Department.
On moving his family to Miami, he met Don Slesnick, who introduced him to several non-profit opportunities the first of which was Dade Heritage Trust. Joining that group, Alvarez served on its board of trustees through this past April as the treasurer for four years, vice-president for two years and as president from 2008 to 2010.
At the same time Alvarez joined the Rotary Club of Coral Gables where his leadership skills were once again employed. Before becoming president of that organization, he held several positions on the club’s board of directors: member of the Membership Committee, chair of Membership Retention, secretary and vicepresident. In fact, he also was selected Rotarian of the Year for 2009-10.
As a former Navy man, it is no wonder he also became one of the founding members of the Miami Historical Maritime Museum, created to honor the members of our naval services, including the Coast Guard. While the group purchased a decommissioned Coast Guard cutter, the USCGC Mohawk, and converted it to a museum, due to the lack of financial support from the City of Miami and Miami- Dade County, the museum could not support itself locally and moved to Key West, where it thrives.
As luck would have it, after moving to Miami, Annette and Walter soon discovered the Miami Council for International Visitors and quickly joined as volunteers. Walter proudly notes that his wife was quickly asked to serve on the board of directors, became president and before long was named executive director, a position she excels at today.
Walter Alvarez not only has an amazing wife, but he and Annette are blessed with three sons: Andrew, 24; Adam, 21, and Patrick, 18.
Walter recalls having a guest at one of the Rotary weekly lunches one time who was a Member of Parliament from Spain.
The visitor was shocked that we, as private citizens, were doing so many things for the community as volunteers. He shared with Alvarez that our volunteer efforts were functions carried out by the state and that private citizens did not get involved that way but left it to the government, an interesting perspective. Walter notes, “My non profit activities are my way of proving to the world and to myself that we, as individuals, can accomplish anything we want, as long as we set our minds and hearts to it.”