Nelly Rodriguez Leads Las Madrinas in Portland

Nelly Rodriguez recently returned from a 10-day trip to Morelos, Mexico. She brought clothing and supplies to people who are still suffering from the effects of the earthquake that devastated the area in September. Her motivation was simple. “I see a need, I fulfill it,” Nelly says.

She also saw a need 15 years ago in the Pacific Northwest when she created Cita Con Nelly (A Date with Nelly), a half-hour program that airs on Saturday mornings on the local Univision affiliate, KUNP. As the program’s producer and host, Nelly uses the show as a platform to address important issues facing Portland’s Hispanic community. Nelly looks to provide education and services and act as a cultural bridge for the Spanish-speaking community in the area.

“I want to share people doing good things. I want the show to be uplifting. And, I want to be a positive role model for people,” Nelly says.

When the American Heart Association (AHA) was looking for community leaders in the area to help promote heart health in the Latino community through our Go Red Por Tu Corazón program last June, Nelly was a perfect fit.

Go Red Por Tu Corazón is a heart-healthy bilingual movement to raise awareness of heart disease in Hispanic women and inspire Latinas to make healthy choices for themselves and their families.

Thirty health ambassadors, called Madrinas (Godmothers), joined the first workshop held in Portland. The AHA invited a medical professional to discuss Life’s Simple 7, our program to promote a heart-healthy lifestyle. Three local sponsors joined to discuss various aspects of wellness: Cambia Health Solutions provided resources to improve quality of life for patients and caregivers; Providence Health and Services shared heart-health information; and Wells Fargo shared information regarding financial wellness. An exercise dance break rounded out the program.

Madrinas, like Promotoras (nonprofessional community health workers), are asked to share the information they receive with their families and people in their communities. They are also encouraged to invite health professionals and other community leaders to join the movement and help advance the AHA’s mission of fighting heart disease and stroke.

“Go Red Por Tu Corazón is a great program because it educates the educators. That way we can make much more of an impact in our communities. I am proud to be an ambassador for saving lives,” Nelly says.