A region of millions can seem impenetrable from the outside.
But Gladimar Guadalupe knew she’d be welcome in Atlanta from her first trip: visiting from her home in Puerto Rico to watch the Braves.
“I saved the tickets and the boarding passes,” Guadalupe recalls. “We got our face painted. That weekend, I think, was one of the best weekends we have ever had.
“We just came back to Puerto Rico one day and decided, ‘Let’s move!’”
Guadalupe came to Atlanta with zero connections. These days, she inspires them as a volunteer for Make-a-Wish Georgia.
The non-profit provides dream experiences for hundreds of children with life-threatening medical conditions. But it faces a challenge with those children – and, more often, their parents – don’t speak English.
“We have 700 kids on our waiting list,” says Amy Alvarez, its VP of marketing and communications. “Ninety speak Spanish. We do have a bridge gap we need to close, identifying people to connect with those families.”
They found, in Guadalupe, someone who lives to connect.
“I actually went to the web site for Make-a-Wish Georgia,” she remembers, “and at the bottom of the web site, they said, ‘We need bilingual volunteers.’ And I thought that was a sign.”
Guadalupe works with children to determine their wishes; she works with their parents on the paperwork. Then she shows up for the big reveal.
“As a wish-granting volunteer, we ask that you grant three wishes throughout the year,” Alvarez says. “[Guadalupe], last year, granted 18 wishes.”
Look at the bottom of the web site now, and you’ll see Guadalupe, dressed as Alice in Wonderland, surprising a young girl with a tea party.
“It breaks my heart to see kids waiting for a few months,” she says. “It’s difficult.”
But Guadalupe makes it look easy, creating individual connections in a region of millions.
If you would like to nominate someone for our 11 Who Care Community Service Awards to recognize the difference they make in the Metro Atlanta community, visit the 11Alive nominate page here.