Art Ambassador of the Month - July 2017
Written By Diane Rhodes
Arts Council Menifee
For his active involvement in the community and his unwavering assistance to the Arts Council
Menifee, Mike Castillejos has been selected as ACM Ambassador/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 art ambassador of the month.”
Growing up in Pico Rivera, Castillejos got a job at a bank while still in high school. He earned
his Business Administration degree from Cal State, Long Beach while continuing to work his way up the ranks. He spent a total of 28 years at 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 on April 5.
The last several years he worked there, Castillejos allowed ACM artists to display their works 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.
Kathleen Pickett, one of the original ACM trustees and co-chair of the Visual Arts Division, oversaw the artists’ exhibits at the bank.
“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, 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,” said Schmoll, of Sun City.
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 set up for 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 past chairman of the board.
Castillejos has been named its Citizen of Year in 2011, 2015 and was chosen again on 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 tenth 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 travelling
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 (younger) 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 Café (at 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.