September 15 to October 15 is National Hispanic Heritage Month and the American Red Cross is celebrating by recognizing the many Hispanic employees, volunteers and donors who give their talent, time and treasure to the Red Cross humanitarian mission.
Initially observed as a week beginning in 1968 and later expanded in 1988 to cover 30 days, National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. The Red Cross witnesses these contributions every day in communities across the country, as Hispanics provide comfort to disaster victims, teach lifesaving classes, support military members and their families, and donate blood to someone in need.
The Red Cross is proud to be a part of the rich Spanish heritage and tradition in the United States and even more proud of the extraordinary people who mirror the diverse community we proudly serve.
Betty’s Commitment to the South Florida Community
Betty Lopez-Castro came to know the Red Cross well during the 2005 hurricane season, the most active season on record with 15 hurricanes and 28 tropical storms that formed in the Atlantic and threatened the United States time and again. Ms. Lopez-Castro saw first-hand how the Red Cross quickly organized to help South Florida recover from its brush with Hurricane Katrina.
“I had an elderly neighbor and heard how the Red Cross set up stations with food and water. I was so impressed that 48 hours after Katrina, they were so well organized giving people water, food and comfort,” said Lopez-Castro. “I love the humanity. I saw it in the Red Cross that day helping my neighbor. It’s one of the few organizations that bring a sense of community and have us come together.”
Following her long standing tradition of donating to the Red Cross after a disaster, Lopez-Castro joined the Red Cross Tiffany Circle a few years later. The Tiffany Circle Society of Women Leaders is comprised of women philanthropists who invest $10,000 annually in their local Red Cross chapters. These women follow in the footsteps of a long line of women leaders who have helped the Red Cross serve the American public in times of war and peace with disaster assistance, blood collection, safety training and countless other community assistance services
Recently, Lopez-Castro, who is a lifetime member of the Tiffany Circle, visited Red Cross Headquarters in Washington, D.C. along with other Tiffany Circle members.
“It opened my eyes to all that the Red Cross does. Living in Florida, we mainly thought of the Red Cross as the agency that helps after a hurricane,” she said. “I’m proud to be a part of this organization because you see the results immediately.”
Dora’s Life Changing Event
Thirty years ago, an eight-year-old child named Mary Jane went missing on a family beach outing in Galveston, Texas. Her father found her at the bottom of a sand slop that had accumulated water, her body lifeless.
It was then that a stranger came along hearing the family’s cries, reached for the girl and began CPR. The stranger continued CPR until the ambulance arrived and took the girl to the hospital. Thankfully, Mary Jane survived because of that stranger and is now in her forties.
“I was very young at that time myself, but I never forgot about the man who happened to be taking a walk on the beach that day, and how he reached over to the father, holding his lifeless child. My name is Dora. I am Mary Jane’s aunt and I became an American Red Cross CPR instructor because I believe CPR saves lives, said Dora de la Rosa.
“We never found out the identity of this man or where he came from. He is often mentioned in our family prayers,” said Rosa. “Wherever this man may be, I thank him. He changed my life and the lives of my family.”