Latino Giant: Norma Garcia

First of all I would like to say “felicidades” or congratulations to all my fellow Latinos who voted. We have made a difference in this election and not only did we make our voices heard, we shouted!

As we look ahead into the future, let me challenge you by asking you to look within your self and find your passion and purpose. I am a believer that when people unite they are more powerful than any money in the world. We are the strong force of the Unites States! I have lived all my life being a giver more than a taker. As Latinos we need to give of our time, energy, and talents to others. What drives you? Where can you make a difference?

My parents, Rodolfo and Fidelia Estrada, taught my siblings and me the importance of working diligently, succeeding and always helping others. My parents both immigrated from Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico in 1967 to San Antonio, TX. Although both of my parents came from extremely humble beginnings and did not speak English, they came to the United States so that their nine children would have an opportunity for success.

I found my calling as a result of a life changing experience in 2001. My two children, husband and I were involved in a rollover accident driving home from a family vacation in Mexico. All of us were wearing our seat belts, except for my daughter Jasmine. She was ejected from our SUV and I witnessed her lying on the ground. Jasmine was in a coma for 12 days and was subsequently declared brain dead. At the age of 13 she had left this world.

After much discussion, we made a choice to help others, to give another family a miracle. We decided to donate her organs. Jasmine’s heart and liver were used to save two lives.

Losing my daughter Jasmine, was like loosing part of my being, my heart, it was extremely difficult. I made a choice that no matter what life would bring against my life I could rise above it. My faith, my son and my family and friends have been my support.

I have been through many disappointments in my life. When I was 12 my parents divorced. I went through my own divorce in 2004 after 18 years of marriage. In 2007 I opened a real estate office only to have to close it after four years in business and lost all my personal savings. For some people this would have enough to have broken them and they would have given up! Not me, my spirit is stubborn and does not allow me to give up! The same spirit that lives in me, I believe lives in you. You just have to make a choice to get up, dust your self off and begin living your life with a new sense of passion.

It has been 11 years since I last held my Jasmine. I found my journey as an advocate, volunteer & speaker as a Donor Mom! I found my voice, and it is powerful. This has become my journey and my drive to move forward. I made a decision not to be a victim, instead to move forward beyond my pain and help others in need. I educate the community about organ and tissue donation. I have found my purpose, I found where I can make a difference.

Did you know there are over 116,000 people on the waiting list to receive an organ. To see the inspiring stories of people who have given the gift of life visit www.UNOS.org. I wrote my book with the purpose of helping grieving families and also to inspire others, that no matter what you have gone through you can overcome. There is no tragedy that the human mind cannot overcome.

I am asking you get involved in your community. Let us as Latinos, become the leaders and role models. As Latinos let’s make a difference, let’s become educated and informed, and let us strive for excellence! When we look outside of our own needs and reach out to others, we become stronger. Our vision will be much clearer and the future much brighter.

I believe that we must take responsibility for our own actions and I believe in the famous quote by John F. Kennedy, “My fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

As Latinos let us make a contribution, let us be the driving force in this country, of our community, of our neighborhoods, churches, and most important of our homes!