ORLANDO, Fla. - For two years now, the nonprofit Changing Rooms U.S.A. has been serving Central Florida and Latin America with a system of support through donations that come directly from people in our community.
Paloma Martinez was a sales and marketing trainer before dedicating her life to those in need.
"It's been amazing. I can't even explain the love you feel in your heart when you know that people in need are getting help because of your hard work." Martinez, the founder of Changing Rooms U.S.A. said.
Every day, Martínez works out of a storage facility in Orlando sorting, cleaning and organizing daily donations. Those items are then distributed by volunteers she calls angels.
"I'm proud to call them angels because that's exactly what they are. They go out and help the needy," Martinez said.
The property manager for Morning Star Storage, spoke of the impact Martinez had on her.
"When she was sitting at the desk and I heard her story and realized that she did a lot of work in the community, I threw myself in there and said, 'Hey, you're not paying for your units. I'll give you what you need,'" Debbie Vannatter said.
Throughout the year, Martinez sets up events for the homeless. She and her husband, Gus Martinez, organize their biggest event for Thanksgiving.
"Everything goes into closets underneath tents, and they grab whatever they need and they eat, they listen to gospel music," Martinez said.
"Last year, we were at Lake Eola. We received 350 registered volunteers and served over 1,000 people." Gus Martinez said.
This year, Martinez hopes to make the experience better with a kitchen unit that sit in one of the storage units but, right now, it's not in her budget.
"My vision is also to bring a trailer with a portable kitchen where we can feed out of it. We've been able to manage to serve thousands without that financial support, but I think, we're ready to take it to the next level," Martinez said.
Changing Rooms U.S.A., also sends donations to several countries in Latin America. Lately, many Venezuelans in Orlando have sought donations from Martinez to help their people back home.
"They still think about their country. They make their boxes, boxes that they send to their countries full of provisions, food, clothing, everything that we provide." she said.
For more information about the organization, or if you would like to make a donation, visit changingroomsusa.org.
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