Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Happy #HispanicHeritageMonth! This month we celebrate the vibrant heritage and significant contributions that Hispanic and Latinx-Americans have made to our country and to the Red Cross. We salute the service of all our Hispanic and Latinx volunteers. 

Some of their stories are featured below:

Dr. Joseph Prewitt Diaz is a pioneer in the field of disaster mental health with decades of international and domestic field experience following disasters. In his time with the American Red Cross he has supported 52 domestic deployments across the US. Internationally, he has worked in 29 different countries with the organization.

Originally from Puerto Rico, Dr. Prewitt Diaz is a highly-accredited educational psychologist with degrees from the University of Puerto Rico, the University of Connecticut, and the Gestalt Institute of Cleveland.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, there has been an outpouring of interest from residents seeking out new ways to give back to their communities. Vanessa Diez, from Yonkers, N.Y., is a full time student pursuing her master’s in public administration/emergency management and a full time social worker, helping immigrant youth in NYC. She is a remarkable young woman who, despite a busy schedule,  made it a priority to serve through the American Red Cross as a volunteer. She recently joined the Red Cross and just graduated from our Disaster Action Team Academy, a specialized training program for our volunteer leaders. In this conversation, she talked about her passion for helping others and her work with the Red Cross providing assistance to individuals affected by local emergencies during the pandemic.


Following a near-fatal car accident, Neale Sanchez’ life changed forever. It inspired him to become a nurse so he could help save lives. Now retired, Sanchez says his life changed again when he joined the Red Cross in summer of 2019.



Maria Anguiano is a Red Cross volunteer from Queens, N.Y. who has been a very active member of our disaster response team. She originally joined us as a member of MIRA USA, a non-profit organization that promotes the social integration of immigrants in the United States.

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“When I was about 10 years old, back in El Salvador, we got hit by the civil war, and we got a bunch of refugees from our own people. My dad was a leader of the church, so he went to the place that took in all the refugees. Since that experience, my heart and my hands were always open for the people who’d really need it. And the Red Cross values of compassion connects strongly with my core values and what my family taught me to do too. My kids are learning there is this other way to live, to be open to help other people without expecting anything in return because you do it with your heart. Sometimes they say, ‘Dad, you’re tired, you came from work, and now you’re going to that fire in the middle of the night?’ And I say, yes. Life is not about us and not about profit. When you help and you serve, something inside you is satisfied and rewarded. That is the most important thing because happiness is before all else.” –Edras Hidalgo, Authorized Driver, Mass Care and DAT Team Member (#Brentwood, NY) #MyRedCrossLife #RedCrossStory #Volunteer #LongIsland

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"One of the hardest days when I was at the Harlem Service Center for mostly survivors of Hurricane Maria from Puerto Rico, I think was when I spoke to this one gentleman. And I’m saying hard, because it was hard for me to accept. This gentleman was sleeping in his car for three weeks in the cold, and somebody finally told him go to the Red Cross. In Puerto Rico, he had applied for FEMA and they gave him a number, but he was not aware that FEMA was giving them Temporary Shelter Assistance. So he came to New York with nothing, sleeping in a friend’s car because he had no belongings. And it was hard knowing that he could’ve gotten shelter and meanwhile, he was sleeping in a car for three weeks. He had family, but they didn’t have room for him. I was able to get him a hotel...I think that was one of the hardest things. But to me that gave me even more incentive to get people housed and get people the services they needed. And while I was at the service center, I was able to house close to 40-50 families." - Carlos Menendez, specialty instructor and Disaster Assessment lead for Metro-NY North in Westchester County #MyRedCrossLife

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Nurse Betsy Tirado has been volunteering with the American Red Cross for about twenty years. She is an active member of the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN).

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