Abrigando Corazones distributes clothes and toys to children during a Trunk or Treat event with QLatinx. (Photo by Andres Acosta Ardila)
ORLANDO | Clothing has the power to change how we perceive ourselves, and for many individuals in Central Florida they are a necessity that is lacking. That’s why one local activist has launched a new initiative working to bring dignity to all.
Yosmar Rumbos is a Venezuelan immigrant that is no stranger to losing it all. He had to restart his life with just the belongings in his suitcase after fleeing the dire situation in his homeland. He remembers the struggle of cycling through the same articles of clothing as a way to get by while he rebuilt his life in the U.S.
“I felt ashamed and feared the judgmental stares of others,” says Rumbos. “I’m blessed to have been able to rebuild my life and I want to be the one that helps others do the same, starting with the basics.”
This desire to help is what led him to create Abrigando Corazones. The initiative started as a simple clothing drive. He would gather clothing on his own and then distribute them to other newly arrived immigrants in the area.
“It was something small but I saw what a big impact it had on others,” he says.
Soon he started making homecooked meals in his apartment and distributing them to the homeless population around the holidays. He was doing everything out of pocket and with help from friends that would donate to help him cover the costs of the operation.
“It was a lot but I did it with pleasure because I knew I was making a difference,” Rumbos says.
Soon he found himself at capacity with an apartment full of clothes and high energy bills from all the laundry he was doing.
“I knew it was not sustainable but I wanted to keep going,” he says. “I needed help.”
Rumbos’ prayers were answered when he started his job at Pineapple Healthcare as a medical assistant. Here he met Jose Aguilar, founder of Aguilar Salud, along with Pineapple Healthcare’s leadership, Ethan and Erick Suarez, who were able to give him the tools necessary to expand his initiative.
“Jose believed in me,” Rumbos says. “He walked me through the steps I needed to grow my initiative into a program of Aguilar Salud. Ethan and Eric invested in my program, thanks to them I have the basic things I need to continue my work.”
Abrigando Corazones continues to collect clothing for the community and has developed partnerships with the Hispanic Office of Local Assistance, Episcopal Church Jesus of Nazareth and QLatinx to do monthly events where he brings the clothing he personally washes and selects himself.
“I’m very careful to only take clothes that are fresh and wearable,” he says. “I want the people that received them to know they are important and deserve to be given clothes that have been treated with care.”
Rumbos is developing new partnerships to bring more to the community than clothes, partnering with Avita Pharmacies to provide hygiene necessities, and through his job at Pineapple Healthcare and his partnership with Aguilar Salud he offers low and no cost HIV prevention and services to anyone that needs them.
He has also partnered with L.O.U.D. Central Florida for the Dignidad Para Todos Clothing and Toy Drive.
“Every time I go out into the community and have toys, parents are excited to receive them and with the holidays coming up I want to be able to give parents with low resources the ability to give their kids some joy,” Rumbos says.
The clothing and toy drive is going on now until Nov. 30. Those looking to contribute can bring new or gently used clothing and toys to Pineapple Healthcare Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
“I’m excited to continue to be able to help make a small difference in the lives of others,” Rumbos says. “I remember what a big difference a little bit of help made in my life when I first arrived in the USA and it makes me happy to be able to do that for someone else.”
You can follow Abrigando Corazones on Instagram @abrigandocorazonesinc or Rumbos @yosmar0507 in order to stay up to date on events and locations for clothing distribution as well as ways to get involved.