Antonella Salerno has joined the Heart2Heart team as its new Volunteer Coordinator.
Antonella comes to us from California and brings experience and passion for working with seniors.
“They remind me of family. I feel like there are a lot of very important life lessons and wisdom that can only be gained through life experiences,” she said. “They have things to say and stories to tell to help people learn and not to make the same mistakes.”
In California, Antonella worked at a memory care facility for three years and volunteered at assisted living facilities, where she first fell in love with working with seniors.
As she began looking for work in Florida, she immediately connected with Heart2Heart’s mission.
“It’s great that Heart2Heart’s main focus is to find a cure to loneliness,” Antonella said. “Loneliness is something that’s not talked about, and seniors have a desperate need to be connected.”
Antonella moved to Florida with her fiancé at the beginning of the year. Along with working at Heart2Heart, Antonella is planning for her wedding in March of next year.
Recently, Antonella had her first chance to lead a Heart2Heart group event at Pacifica Senior Living in Sunrise, helping seniors paint masterpieces on canvases. She described how she connected with one lady who, at first, didn’t want to be a part of the group, pushing other residents away from her table.
Antonella wasn’t going to let the woman sit by herself.
“By the end, she was telling me how she used to be a model and was blowing me kisses,” Antonella said. “Her whole demeanor changed. It was nice to see that change.”
Antonella was born in Lima, Peru. She’s Peruvian, Italian and Brazilian by descent and speaks both English and Spanish.
When she moved to California when she was 9, she left behind a grandmother in Peru. She thinks that’s why she connects so easily with older people. She was the youngest person in her church in California and found it very easy to work with the mostly older members of the church community.
“They became my replacement Grandma since I can’t see my actual Grandma,” she said.
Antonella graduates from San José State University with a bachelor’s in communication studies this May. She loves traveling, powerlifting and dancing.
She is obsessed with alpacas and llamas.