I still remember about three years back or so, when I first met Ybeth Bruzual, Central Florida News 13 anchor, in person. I was just beginning to get involved with the National Association of Hispanic Journalists, and I was thrilled when I received an E-mail invitation to attend a meeting for my local chapter.
When the realization hit me that Ybeth, who was president of our local chapter at the time, would be present and presiding over the meeting, I got a bad case of butterflies in my stomach. After all, she is a local celebrity in my community! She is well-respected and well-loved in both the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking communities of Central Florida. I was still in that state of mind where you think that people you see all the time on T.V.– actually live in your T.V. set. (No, not really.)
As it turns out, the butterflies had no reason to be there. Ybeth is the most down-to-earth, humble, and fun-loving person you could hope to meet. Even so, wherever she goes, she commands the respect of all who are present. She exudes poise and confidence. Ybeth was all sweetness and humor, and I took a picture with her. I realized later, to my chagrin, that in the photo I clearly had a huge rash (from all the excitement!).
Currently, she is serving NAHJ as our Chapter Advisor. According to a short bio of Ybeth on the Central Florida News 13 Web site, Ybeth considers herself an “endless prisoner of hope.” Quite the oxymoron, isn’t it?
It is because of this “hope” that my friend Ybeth is actively involved in many charitable pursuits, including volunteering for the Shepherd’s Hope Clinic, which provides medical services to uninsured patients, free of charge.
Ybeth has also served as a board member for Lighthouse Central Florida, an organization that provides vital services to children and adults with visual impairments.
Additionally, she is a mentor for the Compact Program in Orange County Public Schools.
As a journalist and as a member of my community, Ybeth doesn’t just talk the talk; she walks the walk (and the strut!). In her daily life, she shows everyone just how much she truly cares about the community she enlightens through her news reports.
(And, mija, you do it all with an impeccable sense of fashion!)
It was so much fun getting together again with some of my friends from the local chapter of NAHJ last night. The meeting/mixer started around 7 p.m. and was supposed to end around 10 p.m. I forgot to account for the fact that it was 10 p.m., hora latina! Mom dropped by shortly before 10 to pick me up; and we ended up leaving around midnight.
Each of the guests were asked to give a brief introduction, and so, again, I seized the opportunity to tell everyone about the urgency of spina bifida awareness. Afterward, many people approached with their business cards, and they were very interested in this initiative.
The woman I profiled tonight is very encouraging about “Holdin’ Out,” and I have every reason to believe she will somehow help us spread the word when the time is right for her.
Somewhere between the chicken fingers, the chips, and the sangria, bonds were forged last night among all of us. I have tried to “fit in” with various organizations in the past, but NAHJ continues to be the one where I feel I am most welcome.