Posts

Damaris Diaz

Damaris Diaz shares pandemic stories and how COVID has impacted the Latino community

In our most recent National Conversation with Latina Leaders event, Latina Small Business Post-Covid Recovery: Resources and Trends, correspondent and TV personality, Damaris Diaz joined the conversation in a fireside chat with Latinas in Business Inc. President and CEO, Susana G Baumann.

Damaris Diaz

The free event sponsored by Prudential took place virtually on March 19 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST streaming on Zoom and Facebook Live, featuring two panels of Guest Speakers, including Damaris, and with Keynotes Speaker Stacie de Armas.

Don’t miss our next event! Meet&Greet: SOCIAL MEDIA HACKS AND TRICKS

During the fireside chat, Damaris shared stories of her own experience in the pandemic as well as the stories of others she has encountered throughout her work as a journalist and TV correspondent.

Born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, Damaris moved to the U.S. with her family as a young child, residing first in New York, before settling down in New Jersey as an adult. A Seton Hall graduate, Damaris focused her studies on communications and criminal justice. Now, as a journalist, correspondent, and TV personality, Damaris has had the opportunity to interview countless people and share their stories with larger audiences.

Born in La Vega, Dominican Republic, Damaris moved to the U.S. with her family as a young child, residing first in New York, before settling down in New Jersey as an adult. A Seton Hall graduate, Damaris focused her studies on communications and criminal justice. Now, as a journalist, correspondent, and TV personality, Damaris has had the opportunity to interview countless people and share their stories with larger audiences. 

Some key topics Damaris spoke about were the impact the pandemic has had mentally on the Latino community, essential workers, business owners, and families who have suffered unexpected losses, including her own family. 

Biggest lessons learned during the pandemic 

Susana G Baumann 4:23

I would like to ask you, you know, what, what lessons have we learned from the pandemic? You know, this unexpected devastation? I know you have been covering a lot of personal stories of family, emotional and financial distress.

Damaris Diaz 4:54

That’s right, Susana. It’s been you know, it’s been a whirlwind…So many of us have been affected on so many levels. I have friends who say to me, ‘Oh, wow, you know, I haven’t gotten COVID. And my family’s all okay.’ And I’m like, wow, God bless you, you know that that’s not my story. My story early on, my cousin’s parents both fell ill in the hospital. Here in a local hospital in New Jersey, just two days apart. Ambulance came for the mom, ambulance came to the dad, the next day, within a week…And you know, nobody was prepared for that nobody was prepared for a loss in the middle of a pandemic, where you can’t even congregate with your family and be there for them and hold their hand and be a part of their pain.

And, you know, we all know the same way we’re born, eventually, someday we’re going to die. But to kind of have to face this in the middle of a crisis where we don’t even know like: Is there a cure? Well, you know, what’s the medication? What’s going to happen with our families? And then you start seeing the stories…on a daily basis of young people, people in their 20s, children of all age,  and so we are living with this fear, not knowing ‘At what point am I going to get it? And how is my system going to react to it?’

I think that the lessons we learned, one of the biggest lessons learned here is: you’ve got to be prepared. How do you prepare for this kind of thing? You know, we kind of go through life on a day to day thinking, ‘Okay, I need to prepare for today. What’s my, what’s my assignment for today, I’m going to call and get a permanent release. And I’m going to get my cameraman lined up, and I’m going to get my editor ready, and we’re going to do this.’ We’re preparing for the now, for the now. But there’s, you know, tomorrow and the day after that, and the week after that and the month after that, and there’s so many things that we don’t think about, but this pandemic has put it in our faces, you know, hit us on the forehead, like, ‘Hey, wake up, wake up! Are you ready? Are you ready for this?’ Nobody was ready for this. And we’re like reinventing the wheel every day as we go along, trying to figure out our lives in the middle of this health crisis that’s just not here in the U.S., but it’s in the entire world.

Susana G Baumann 7:54

Correct. Yes. One thing that you mentioned was really, very, very powerful on the inability to be there for your losses, for the people who are passing. I know personally, friends who lost their parents. And like you said, they were not able to even say the goodbyes…rituals are important in any society, and this pandemic put us totally on hold for those very traditional rituals that help us cope with the losses. 

Two sides of the pandemic: from despair to hope 

Damaris then shared various stories of individuals in the pandemic, from the hardships of being an essential healthcare worker to how a small business owner found hope and success helping others. 

Damaris Diaz 8:41

One of the first stories that I covered that really hit hard for me and for so many viewers was a nurse in New York City. She works as a nurse, and so you know, a lot of our first responders were the first ones to get COVID because they had to work there without masks without, you know, the gloves without all the safety precautions because the hospitals weren’t prepared. And so she got COVID, she had to isolate herself, her kids were sent somewhere else. Her mom would leave her food, along with other relatives, at her doorstep. And she’s thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, what’s going to happen to me? What’s going to happen to my mom, if she gets it? What’s gonna happen to my children? When can I see them?’ So when she finally got clear to go back to work, she drives across –she lives in Jersey– she drives across the George Washington Bridge, and she said, it was like this magnetic pool, just trying to pull her back to New Jersey, like ‘Go home, don’t do this. And she said, you know, she kept thinking, I have a duty I have to do this. So she said, ‘Oh, God just helped me get past the bridge. Once I get past the bridge, maybe when I get to the parking facility, maybe I’ll have the courage to go.’ 

So she’d park in her car and cry. She’d walk to the hospital and she’d still feel that magnetic pool saying to her, don’t do this go home and just be with your family because the world as we know it has changed and you know, and our lives could end tomorrow. And that’s when she heard the applause. Her shift started when the applause began every night around 7pm. And she says those applause were the ones that got her through, got her through those doors, got her to, you know, to her posts and helping people day after day. But she said she cried, every single day  she drove to work. And you know, now it’s almost a year later, and she’s still working as a nurse, and she probably still feels conflicted. But she’s got a duty, you know. 

I think that when I got into journalism, I thought, I just want to tell happy stories. There’s so many things that are happening in the world that are going to make us sad, that are going to make us feel crushed, I want to tell happy stories. And I’ve been very fortunate to travel the world, to interview celebrities, and movie sets, sports figures, artists, on red carpets, I’ve had the blessing and the luck to do that. But you know, the reality is, that that’s not everything. We suffer through sadness, we suffer through loss, we suffer through pain. And there are a lot of stories out there to be told, you know, of very strong women that have a voice and deserve for their stories to be told. 

So for me, that was such an honor to be able to tell her story, even though it broke my heart. And even though my voice is cracking, as I was interviewing her, you know, as a Latina, you’re, you’re raised to be strong, like, don’t shed a tear. And if you shed a tear, don’t let anyone see you. And so you know, it’s like, wow, this, this pandemic has taken a couple layers off of me, off of the way I’ve allowed the world to see me.

Susana G Baumann 11:31

This has been tremendously challenging for all families, and especially for women. So what are the good stories? Because also, the pandemic has brought, you know, some fantastic ways that he has transformed our lives for good. What do you think they are? 

Damaris Diaz 12:39

Oh, wow, telling good stories is something that I could do with my eyes closed, because it just makes me feel good. And I know that that’s the effect that we have on people when we tell these stories. 

So recently, I interviewed a– una Dominicana de Nueva York, who started her own business before the pandemic. She learned how to make these beautiful, like balloon arrangements. And she said, ‘You know what, we need to celebrate everything, you know, it’s not just a birthday, or Mother’s Day, let’s celebrate everything, let’s make people happy.’ So she learned how to make these balloons, she started to make them and deliver them and she said, ‘I was bringing joy to people. And then the pandemic happened. And it was like we weren’t allowed to be happy. Because everything has to be canceled, celebrations were canceled. We couldn’t even have a barbecue and get together with our family.’  So she started to do these courses online to help people to learn how to make them and she’d send them all the links, ‘You need to buy the supplies. And these are the cheapest ones. And I’m going to give you a whole how-to, right here right now virtually.’

And she said it’s so important to continue to celebrate our children, especially. Kids that are now being homeschooled, that, you know, who knows how their futures are going to look with this experience. This is a traumatic experience for so many children, you know, forget the fact that ‘Oh, you can’t hang out with my friends and I can’t do my extracurricular activities.’ But a lot of them had to see their grandparents die, you know, their loss of their parents, loss of the other relatives, loss of friends. And so you know, their lives are being formed right now. And this woman said, ‘It’s so important to celebrate them. So I wanted to teach parents how to make these beautiful balloon arrangements.’ And so her business went from starting out to nothing to online to now helping other people.

You might be interested: Stacie de Armas on breaking stereotypes and advocating for Latinas 

There are so many beautiful stories to be told. Yesterday, the Despierta America live, we were at a vaccination center in the Yankee Stadium. It’s open 24 seven, right? So you would think the line would wrap around the entire block considering we’ve been anxiously waiting for this vaccine. But what’s happening? Our Latinos, our African American brothers and sisters are having so much trouble having access to the vaccine. First of all, you go online, and it sends you from one thing to the other to the other, and you can’t figure it out and you think you have an appointment, just to be evaluated to see if you can get the vaccine. And you never even had an appointment for that. 

covid-19 vaccine

Photo by Hakan Nural on Unsplash

And there’s this woman in Pennsylvania, her name is Bibi, and online, she started to help people have access to the vaccine. So if you if I called her and said, ‘Listen, girl, I can’t figure this out. My mom needs a vaccine. I know I’m not a priority right now. But she is,’ she will go online, help walk you through the steps, and the next phone call or email you get from her is: Hey, your appointment for your vaccination is on Tuesday, April, whatever. And she’s doing this in her free time. This is an entrepreneur, her little business is suffering. She’s a mother of two, she’s homeschooling her two daughters, she’s got her husband, she’s got to take care of her family and her life. And she’s taking all of her free time to help people that need this service. 

Preparing for the unexpected with Prudential

Lastly, Susana and Damaris discussed the importance of life insurance, especially in such an uncertain time such as now. Culturally, many older Latinos still live by old norms, expecting their children will be around to take care of them in their old age. But this pandemic has opened our eyes to show us that tomorrow is not guaranteed and one never knows when a crisis or health emergency might strike which is why families need to plan now and have these conversations now to be ready for whatever may come in the future. One of the ways to prepare is through life insurance. Prudential 

Susana G Baumann 17:01

So what makes you believe that a company like Prudential can lessen these effects of the devastation of Latino families, especially, you know, those that worry about their finances, and don’t know if they’re gonna make it to the end of the pandemic?

Damaris Diaz 19:01

Well, Prudential, first of all, speaks our language. So whether you’re bilingual or not, Prudential speaks our language. So they’re there to help us and they are experts in this field. I mean, they’ve been around since 1875, before you and I were ever on this planet, and it’s the largest insurance carrier in the United States. So they are the go to place….They understand our community, our values and they know what matters. Like you said, culturally, as we get older, we’re thinking our kids are going to take care of us, right? My mom still has that hope. She still has that hope that my sister, my brother, and I are going to care for her in her older years, because that’s what she was taught. And that’s what my grandparents believed. My grandfather was taken care of by all of his children, seven children, and all of the grandchildren and great grandchildren, until the day he passed about a year and a half ago. We were by his bedside. And before that he, you know, in hospice, every single day, my aunt was there taking care of him, 24/7. 

That’s a full time job and not a full time job, like a 40 hour, you know, full time gig that we would have. Twenty-four seven. And so you know, what we need to plan financially for those situations. 

And those are conversations that we don’t want to have, especially, as a younger person, it’s like, I’m not gonna think about that I have my whole life ahead of me. Really? Something could happen to me tomorrow, and I could be bed bound, God forbid, you know? Tomorrow is now. Like, we have to plan now. And so that’s when a company like Prudential steps in. Prudential understands that  we have different stories. It’s not a one size fits all situation. And so when you speak to one of the experts at Prudential they come knowing what our struggles are.They understand that we speak a different language. It’s not just that hablamos español, we speak a whole different cultural language.

You know, 52% of Latinos do not have an emergency savings.” (Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash)

When my father passed, he was 61 years old, and he passed after a heart attack, years ago, that was like the eye opener for me. I would have never thought about life insurance until that happened. But I remember growing up and hearing them talking about that, and I used to think these people are crazy. They’re planning their death, like they’re buying life insurance….But you know, that’s just the ignorance in a person like myself at that age where I didn’t want to think about tomorrow.

We have to think about tomorrow, we need to have emergency savings, and not just for a month or two months. As hard as that may seem….You know, 52% of Latinos do not have an emergency savings. And that’s proven. And so many people are worried, like ‘how are we going to do this?’ 

It’s not too late. Yes, we’re in a pandemic. Yes, a lot of people have lost their jobs. Yes, we’re in a huge economic crisis, but it’s not too late. Prudential believes that one of the best ways to feel empowered and supported is to learn, educate ourselves, on our finances, have these conversations as hard as they may seem. 

Susana G Baumann 25:00

Thank you so much for your time. We know that’s a challenge for us, for Latinos, for small businesses and uh, but we need to learn to talk about money. We need to talk about money with our children, with our families, with our parents and to plan for the future. 

For more information and resources from Prudential, visit www.Prudential.com/tuSumas

Damaris Diaz Joins National Conversation with Latina Leaders to Address Small Business Recovery Post-Covid 19

Damaris Diaz, popular correspondent who runs entertainment, fitness, and unique human-interest stories in Despierta America, the national morning show on Univision network, joins the National Conversation with Latina Leaders as Celebrity Speaker. The event also gathers a stellar lineup of leaders, influencers and entrepreneurs from around the country to talk about “Latina Small Business Post-Covid Recovery: Resources and Trends”.

Damaris Diaz, Stacie de Armas, small business recovery post-Covid

Damaris Diaz joins Stacie de Armas as Guest Speaker for virtual National Conversation with Latina Leaders event.

The free virtual event takes place Friday, March 19 from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm EST – 9:00 am to 11:00 am PST on Zoom and Facebook Live. For free registration visit https://latina-small-business-recovery.eventbrite.com. Open to all entrepreneurs regardless of gender, race or ethnicity, and the general public. Organized by Latinas in Business Inc. a national non-profit membership organization.

She joins Keynote Speaker Stacie de Armas, Senior Vice President of Inclusive Insights & Initiatives and a leader within Nielsen’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion practice, to help amplify the voice of the Latinx community struggling for resources and funding for small businesses, and protection of essential workers.

Susana G Baumann, President and CEO of Latinas in Business Inc, states, “After this very challenging year, it is important to regroup and think strategically about how to recover and protect our businesses and essential workers. I am very grateful for the response of these amazing Latina leaders that will provide the knowledge and resources needed for our community not only to survive, but to excel.”

Latina Leaders

Panel 1 Guest Speakers: Jennifer Garcia, Wendy Garcia, and Christina Fuentes.

The March 19 virtual event will include two panels with other remarkable guest speakers. Panel 1 will feature Jennifer Garcia, Interim CEO at Latino Business Action (LBAN), Stanford University; Wendy Garcia, Chief Diversity Officer at the Office of the NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer; and Christina Fuentes, Managing Director, Community Development, New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA).

Latina Leaders

Panel 2 Guest Speakers: Rosario B Casas, Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, and Lucy Pinto.

Panel 2 will feature Rosario B Casas, CEO VR Americas; Ivelisse Rodriguez Simon, Managing Partner of Avante Capital; and Lucy Pinto, Grow with Google Program Manager.

“Although it is evident that throughout the United States, Latino entrepreneurs have encountered extreme difficulty, it is important to note that they have been extremely resilient and have adapted their businesses to navigate these ever-changing conditions,” Baumann continued. 

Join us and all our supporting organizations in bringing post-Covid recovery solutions to America’s backbone, small businesses, and especially minority women and Latina-owned businesses, their talent, innovation and their constant sense of purpose to support their communities. 

For registration to this free event, please visit: https://latina-small-business-recovery.eventbrite.com

small business recovery post-Covid, Damaris Diaz

Supporting media partners and organizations.