Several weeks ago, I received an E-mail from a man I’d never met before. I’m sort of used to that by now, because I get so many E-mails from parents of children with spina bifida, or adults who have spina bifida.
However, this contact was different. Carlos Guzmán had recently spoken with my friend Victor Manuel Ramos of Orlando Sentinel’s “Hispanosphere” about a new project his family is working on. When he told Victor what the new venture was about, he mentioned my name as a possible resource for the project.
Guzmán, along with his daughter, Marucci Beard, will soon be launching an online publication meant to inform Latinos about what is going in in the non-profit sector (community-based organizations).
Apparently, Victor knows me all too well. 🙂 Mr. Guzman and Marucci had read some of the articles and blog entries I’ve published, and they’ve asked me to write for their publication! It will be titled LATINOlinkVIEWS. (I will post a link to the site once it’s up and running!)
Frankly, I could not imagine a better team of people disseminating the publication than this family. They are no strangers to the non-profit realm. Guzman’s wife, Marytza Sanz (Marucci’s mom, if you’re drawing up the family tree in your head!), founded Latino Leadership, Inc. in 1999, along with “a group of community leaders,” and the foundation was incorporated in 2001.
According to the organization’s Web site, Latino Leadership was “established as a community-based presence in the Greater Orlando Area to develop and administer permanent programs that promote the integration of the Hispanic community into mainstream America.”
Latino Leadership’s programs aim to provide support to Hispanics who might otherwise have difficulty learning about the resources that are available to them. These programs include ¡Adelante! , an initiative geared towards helping at-risk students stay motivated and finish high school.
Other programs that they offer include health initiatives, such as Mujer Son Tuyas, which is meant to educate Latinas about breast and cervical health and also notify them of the importance of cancer screenings.
These are just a mere handful of the many programs, initiatives and resources Latino Leadership offers to the community. Other topics they cover in special workshops include how to get involved in your child’s education, becoming a U.S. citizen, financial literacy, voter registration and emergency preparedness.
It seems like an overwhelming responsibility for one organization to cover that much ground. But at the heart of this non-profit venture is the Guzmán family. A veteran leader in the Hispanic community, Marytza Sanz sits on the board of directors for Children’s Campaign, Inc., a non-partisan organization devoted to lobbying for issues directly related to the rights of our youngest community members. She’s also on the University of Central Florida President’s Minority Advisory Board.
Marucci was instrumental in organizing Latino Leadership’s Encuentro Artístico: A Celebration of Women, honoring several outstanding ladies in print, broadcast and online media, including my good friend Alsy Acevedo. Marucci has also been responsible for writing grants for the organization.
Now, Carlos and his family are taking the organization they’ve built one step further– in coming up with a means to enlighten Latinos about what the non-profit sector is doing, in a way that most news organizations aren’t.
So…that, in a nutshell, is why I’m featuring Latino Leadership as a collective “hero” tonight. That, plus the all-too-tempting opportunity I had to play “six degrees of separation!”
Thanks, Carlos, Marytza, and Marucci, and all the volunteers for Latino Leadership for all that you do! You are all incredible people serving a great purpose in our community. I would only be too honored to become a part of it.
Now, to shift to a rather serious (but hopefully not too serious topic), I’ve discovered I have yet another urinary tract infection (UTI). I shouldn’t be surprised at this point, and a few years ago, I would hardly even be worried, except that in the last few years, my infections have seemed to get progressively worse. For one thing, I am back to having the [truly] “disabling” cramps I used to get when I was a kid and I had to be hospitalized every month for a UTI. I hardly ever got cramps in the last few years– I only noticed when my urine looked cloudy and when it burned to urinate. (Forgive my explicit details, but I did promise full disclosure, or almost full disclosure, anyway.)
I will call my doctor’s office tomorrow and ask them to send a script for a renal ultrasound, which I’m most likely due for, anyhow. (I’m supposed to have one every year.) If things continue like they were going earlier tonight, one of my parents will have to leave work early and take me to the emergency room.
What’s really odd, though, is that I totally wouldn’t mind. No, I’m not exactly a glutton for torture, but sometimes I think I might have developed a little Munchausen Syndrome over the years. Okay, so obviously I don’t fake my symptoms. But, who knows? Maybe as a way of “coping” with my frequent hospitalizations as a child, I developed a fondness for hospitals, which turned into almost a sense of intrigue when I am in hospital surroundings.
In a hospital, I totally know what I’m doing, and I always make sure the staff knows I’m in charge as the patient, client, whatever. I know my medical history (and Mom and Dad can fill in any memory gaps), and I know what works for me and what doesn’t.
Now that I come to think of it, I’ve spent so many years attempting to control the physical, medical symptoms of my spina bifida, that it never dawned on me before. Maybe the medical realm is in fact, where I feel I am most in control. If only it were that easy to translate that sense of comfort and solace to the rest of my life…