“We don’t have MS, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help,” says Felipe Ruiz. He and his wife Amber had been hosting annual wine tastings to benefit various nonprofits when Amber suggested holding one to benefit the Arizona Chapter of the Society.
Amber was soon named Rookie Volunteer of the Year by the Arizona Chapter, which spurred Felipe to become even more active. Their wine events company once hosted the VIP tent at a Bike MS event, and he now helps every year with publicity and design for Cooks and Chords, the Arizona Chapter’s annual food tasting event and fundraiser.
Felipe finished his master’s degree in nonprofit studies at Arizona State University in December 2010, and is now director of Strategic Marketing and Design for the College of Public Programs at ASU. He is also currently serving his second term as the communications chair for the ASU Chicano/Latino Faculty and Staff Association. He is an alumnus of the Hispanic Leadership Institute.
One of his particular concerns is Latinos with MS. “Immigrants, legal ones, don't always feel welcome here in Arizona, so asking for help or information can be difficult: They’re afraid the hospital will call the police,” he said. “The people need better ways to communicate in their neighborhoods, and better education, such as information about symptoms. Sometimes Latinos are afraid of asking questions, afraid of knowing what they have.”
For his volunteerism and other work, Felipe was recently named one of Arizona’s 40 Hispanic Leaders under 40.“The event is to promote the Hispanic leaders in the community making positive contributions in the Phoenix valley. We care about the community, we volunteer, we’re educated. We live in a state where the Hispanic community struggles to show that there are a lot of honorable people that come to this country to work and offer something good to the American people,” he said. “This recognition makes everyone realize that there are a lot of people doing great things and who represent the high standards of our people.”