30 April 2020

Esposa, Madre, HIja, CEO, COVID-19

Category: Blog

As the news about the coronavirus emerged, I was working from my home office as usual since I founded Hispanic Access Foundation ten years ago. I live on five acres in rural northern Virginia with my husband Ted, and my parents Elena and Jose, two dogs – both named Buddy, and a cat named Tula. Everyone at my house is older than me – even Tula. I am 52.

Last year, at this exact time, I was at the hospital with my dad as he fought to survive major complications after heart surgery. I am the eldest child of immigrant parents. Early in my life I was the navigator of our new surroundings for them and now as they approach 80, I am a navigator con gusto, otra vez.

The coronavirus pandemic created for me, the feelings of crisis protectiveness that I experienced last year at the hospital with dad. Just as the pandemic hit the US, our son Luke returned from South America, and our son Noah called and gave us the good news that his military unit would return to the US within days.

As part of rural living, we keep extra supplies in the house to avoid the long trip to town and on our long walks we see more deer and turkeys than we see people. We counted our blessings.

At work, we cancelled our busy calendar of travel to communities and completed the work virtually. The declaration of the pandemic magnified my concerns for my team, the well-being of my organization, the impact of this crisis on our networks including a young workforce and pastors of churches. I was concerned that information about COVID-19 was terribly slow to come in the language that millions of people in my community needs. With the continued acceleration of this crisis, there were changes in my daily life, with my husband moving his office home, and taking count of the priority steps to keep my team, organization, networks, and community safe.

I am not unaccustomed to crisis, in fact, I am one of those people who seems calm and feels clear headed in a crisis - although not without tension in my chest and shoulders. COVID-19 has created unexpected anguish in the lives of people – we hear it in the people’s voices who call our helpline to say “no puedo pagar mi renta”. This is entirely unexplored territory – will the assistance we connect people to still be there tomorrow?

Despite the many concerns around this current crisis, including not knowing how it will turn out, I feel motivated. We can make a difference by loving and helping one another. This is where the distinction from the helplessness I felt during my dad’s health scare was clear. My son, a Recon Marine, says he has endured hardship and trials in the field but says that for him this is the most important part of the job.

I feel guilty comparing his experience to nonprofit leadership and service, but could there be a similarity?


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HAF improves the lives of Hispanics in the United States and promotes civic engagement by educating, motivating and helping them access trustworthy support systems.

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