Twice the Angel

by on August 20, 2014

in The Volunteer Experience

 

Santos Airport_fullFrom acts of selflessness and generosity, to the compassion they show toward every guest, our volunteers offer much more than just their time.  They truly are the heartbeat of Give Kids The World, filling 1,400 volunteer shifts each week at the Village.  One volunteer is more than just a Village “Angel” – his given name is also Angel.

Santos “Angel” Irizzary has been a dedicated volunteer of the Village for the past 8 years. After retiring from delivering mail for the U.S. Postal Service, Santos now delivers the happiness that inspires hope to the many wish families he helps at the Village.

In 2002, Santos relocated to Kissimmee, FL from Puerto Rico. New to the area, he had been volunteering at numerous organizations across Central Florida when a couple informed him of GKTW. His curiosity inspired  him to attend a volunteer orientation at the Village.

“From the moment I walked down the Avenue of Angels, I was hooked,” recalls Santos. “I had heard this place was for children with life-threatening illnesses so I was expecting the sadness that comes with sickness. The Village was the exact opposite. There was nothing but smiles, joy and the sound of laughter.”

Santos_fullNow, a frequent face at the Village, Santos fulfills a variety of volunteer positions for GKTW. He even recently achieved the milestone of completing 2,500 service hours.  Shannon, a volunteer coordinator at GKTW, often calls upon Santos to give tours to new Angels.

“He is extremely knowledgeable about GKTW and our history,” says Shannon. “Santos is my go-to man when it comes to new volunteer orientations. His passion for the Village shines through when he is training new Angels and sharing our mission.”

From giving tours and scooping ice cream in the Ice Cream Palace to serving warm breakfasts for our families, Santos has done it all. Yet, the role of Airport Greeter is by far his favorite assignment.

Santos says “I try to take away the family’s worries and make them feel comfortable. I know traveling can be stressful so it is my role to make them feel relaxed and welcomed. They are about to embark on a once in a lifetime vacation, the last thing they need to be worrying about is where their bags are or finding their rental car.”

Family Airport_fullOne former wish family recalls how Santos went above and beyond being just a friendly face at the airport.

“He came back to see us on our last night to make sure we had a wonderful wish trip,” said former wish child Jude’s father.  “Not only had GKTW given us an incredible vacation, Santos’ kindness was the cherry on top.”

Being so passionate about our history and mission, Santos has read GKTW’s founder Henri Landwirth’s book A Gift of Life dozens of times. When asked why he keeps volunteering for GKTW, he humbly states a favorite quote of his and Henri’s, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

Santos embodies all the qualities of a great volunteer: he’s compassionate, selfless, knows how to put a smile on anyone’s face and can tell a great story. Santos “Angel” Irizzay is a true Angel. Thank you, Angel, for your amazing service to Give Kids The World.

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