Celebrating Hispanics/Latinos Who Are Fighting to #ENDALZ

By Dawn Wade

During Hispanic Heritage Month, we are recognizing standout individuals making an impact in their communities. We are grateful for their important work to move us closer to a world without Alzheimer’s and all other dementia.

Lourdes Alonso

Lourdes Alonso, Miami

What made you decide to volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? Both my parents suffered and passed due to Alzheimer’s. I was their caregiver. I wanted to share my experience in the hopes that it would help other caregivers and to honor their memory.

What volunteer activities are you involved in? I am a facilitator for a caregiver group and also contact lawmakers to advocate for funds and legislature to help caregivers, patients and research.

What brings you joy as a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? The friends I have made while volunteering and the hope that sharing my experiences have helped others in their journey.

From your perspective, what is the greatest impact that the Association has in your community? I think the Association provides a wealth of resources to help the patients and caregivers navigate the different stages of the disease.

What would you share with others considering volunteering for the Association? Knowing that I am hopefully making a difference in someone’s life gives me a great deal of satisfaction.

Maria Bennett

Maria Bennett with her father.

What made you decide to volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? I lost my father to Alzheimer’s at the beginning of this year. He was diagnosed for 10 years. I had the pleasure of taking care of him at home along with my mother and sister. I want to let others know that they are not alone. I want to bring awareness to the community. 

What volunteer activities are you involved in? I am the Community Outreach Educator. I have been doing programs in both English & Spanish. Helping with the health fairs to bring awareness. We are working on Hispanic Carnivals and with the Spanish speaking churches to bring awareness and resources. Also helping organize the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Ocala this November.

What brings you joy as a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? To be able to help others understand the process, to be able to listen and sympathize with them and to know that one day hopefully there will be a cure. 

From your perspective, what is the greatest impact that the Association has in your community? Education and resources. There are so many care takers and patients living with the disease without having any knowledge of the disease or the resources.

What would you share with others considering volunteering for the Association? Please share your time & knowledge with others. There is no greater feeling than giving back. “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Gandhi

Maria Ruiz

Maria Ruiz, Miami Beach

What made you decide to volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? In my role as Mental Health Counselor at Wien Center, one of the focuses of my job is to provide counseling and support to caregivers. In conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Association, I am able to facilitate caregiver support groups in the community as well as via telephone conference line. 

What volunteer activites have you been involved with? For the last 5 years, I have been facilitating four caregiver support groups per month. 

What brings you joy as a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? I absolutely love to witness the transformation that caregivers go through, when they are open to receiving support and services. It is truly joyful to watch. Generally when they arrive for the first time in group they are very stressed, overwhelmed, and even a bit lost. Over the course of time, one can see that even their demeanor changes. 

4. From your perspective, what is the greatest impact that the Association has in your community? Providing support, education, resources. The 24/7 caregiver phone line is so helpful when caregivers are in distress.

5. What would you share with others considering volunteering for the Association? I would encourage others to give of their time. It is very rewarding. 

Angie Toledo, Ph.D.

Angie Toledo, Ph.D. at the 2021 Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Tampa.

What made you decide to volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? I like to volunteer because I am tied to the cause. Two of my mother’s aunts have Alzheimer’s disease and I want to understand the process of the disease and how to make their lives better. 

What volunteer activities are you involved in? As a volunteer, I am a Support Group Facilitator for the Adult Day Care at Hillsborough County and participated in different events during the year for the Alzheimer Association. My favorite event is the Walk to End Alzheimer’s.

What brings you joy as a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? Contributing to a good cause that is important to me and my family gives me joy.

From your perspective, what is the greatest impact that the Association has in your community? The greatest impact is the opportunity for caregivers to have regular contact with others to talk about the disease with the Support Group.

What would you share with others considering volunteering for the Association? Volunteering with the Association allows the chance to expand your horizons and celebrate other cultures and peoples.

Michael Vega

Michael Vega, Tampa

What made you decide to volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? My family has a history of Alzheimers, so I wanted to learn more about the disease and how it could affect myself and my family. I then thought I should be sharing those learnings with others.

What volunteer activities are you involved in? I’m a community educator, and have been giving presentations to groups to raise awareness of the signs to look for and the impact it has on the individual and the people around them.

What brings you joy as a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Association? To hear that someone learned something about the disease they weren’t aware of and hopefully is able to better understand how to cope with it.

From your perspective, what is the greatest impact that the Association has in your community? Bringing awareness of this desease and how the Alz Association provides resources to anyone in need.

What would you share with others considering volunteering for the Association? The Association provides you with a chance to learn about the effects of this disease and, in turn, gives you the ability to perhaps affect someone’s life for the better – long after they’ve heard from you.

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