Marisela Martinez is Heart2Heart’s Digital Outreach Coordinator, in charge of launching and supporting our new iPads for Seniors program.
Marisela’s job is a new position, created in December when we received a grant to distribute 250 iPads to care centers throughout Broward County. Marisela has been connecting with care centers to prepare them to receive iPads this spring.
“I love the impact in the community that we’re making with this program,” she said. “We’re able to involve young adults and teens with aging people through video calls.
Marisela grew up in Venezuela. She was one year away from finishing a veterinarian degree when her country’s economic crisis caused her university to shut down for more than a year.
“I felt like I needed to grow somehow,” she explained.
So in 2017, Marisela moved to South Florida on her own, without speaking any English. She learned the language quickly by taking evening classes at a local high school until she felt comfortable practicing in the grocery stores and everyday interactions.
Now, Marisela and Alex, her husband of a little over a year, live in North Lauderdale.
Marisela said she’s felt drawn to older people ever since she volunteered as a high school student at a Catholic nursing home that served people with poor health and low income.
“It was seeing their need and how vulnerable they were – they wouldn’t have control over anything,” she said. “How privileged we are by picking the food we want, where we want to go, what we want to do.”
Her affection for older adults grew when she joined a South Florida church whose members were mostly 75 years or older. Despite encouragement from her peers to join a young adult ministry, she discovered that she didn’t want to leave. She loved talking with her older counterparts.
“They share their crazy stories from when they were young. It just makes me laugh all the time,” Marisela said. “I love the wisdom they carry.”