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Hispanic Heritage Month Spotlight: Marilu Garza

Wednesday, October 9, 2019   (0 Comments)
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Thank you for celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with our Chapter these past four weeks, as we spotlighted our incredible Latinx members! Our last spotlight is Marilu Garza, who shares how Latino philanthropy impacted her personal and professional life.


Marilu Garza
Chief Development Officer
The Center for Pursuit

What is your vision for Latino philanthropy?
I think our primary focus needs to be identifying Latinos within this community and giving them the opportunity to be a part of the work we’re doing, without financial constraints or other reasons they would choose not to be a part of it. In other words, we really want to open the door for Latinos and welcome them to be a part of this community.

What was your first encounter or most memorable experience of Latino philanthropy within your family or community?
My grandmother used to run the bingo game at Our Lady of Sorrow Catholic Church in our neighborhood. I would go with her to help slice cake and handout bingo cards. The money they would make from bingo would go into the food pantry. You would see the fruits of your labor through the impact the food pantry had on our community.

My mother and grandmother raised me. We didn’t have a lot of money, but you would never know that. I never knew that. As far as we were concerned, we were very wealthy. My grandmother once told me, “It doesn’t matter how much money you bring to the table – what matters is the footprint you leave when you leave the table.” Poor people, rich people can leave the same footprint. Take action, and say, “I’m going to make this community better because I’m here.”

My footprint at Chinquapin was building the girl’s dormitory. They had never been able to stay on campus before that. At The Center for Pursuit, my footprint is building the new community in the East end. I think my passion is for serving the underdog who doesn’t have a voice. Whether that comes from being Latina and having experienced some of those things, I don’t know. But I do know, as a fundraiser, it’s my passion and my duty to do this for others, and to teach others how to do it, so when I’m not here, there’s still others to pick up the baton.

How long have you been working in fundraising?
20 years


How long have you been an AFP member?
At least 10 years


What keeps you motivated at your organization?
Adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Texas are 50th in the nation for funding. There are many whose families have passed away. They have no one left to be their voice. The idea that they deserve the growth, independence, and happiness that every other human being gets fuels my fire to continue to try and make their lives better. Plus, I just adore my clients.


If you could describe your job in one to two sentences, what would you say?
There’s an old saying in Spanish, “Sin dinero no baila el chango,” which means “Without money, the monkey won’t dance.” My duty is to make that monkey dance for all those who can’t do that. To build the best home for people, give them the best job opportunity, and get the brass ring within reach for them, so they can have the type of life their families and those who serve them wish for them desperately.


How has AFP made a difference in your career?
Being a member of AFP has opened doors for me which otherwise would have been shut. My membership has offered me the opportunity for professional growth and offered me an incredible array of new friendships. I have been mentored by other members, have had the opportunity to chair the National Philanthropy Day Luncheon, and serve on the Board of Directors, which has exposed me to a lot of experiences that I wouldn’t have experienced otherwise. I make sure those working in my department are members as well, so they can attend meetings and education opportunities along with me, so our department can grow.


Anything to add?

I believe a lot of people think paying it forward means only participating financially in a mission. But paying it forward can be easy as learning more, reaching out to somebody who is younger than you to share knowledge, or joining a committee. I encourage everyone to do something to pay it forward, so we can build stronger communities.




Want to share your own story? Use the hashtag #SomosAFP! For questions contact: Berenice Espinoza, OR Sydney Smith,

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