Francisco Ruiz was on camera talking about how he came to Indianapolis for love and ended up falling in love with the city when the cell phone in his pocket buzzed. It was a fellow immigrant reaching out for help. He’d call them back as soon as he finished the interview.
That moment says much about Ruiz, who was born in Colombia and has been among the most active Natural Helpers with the Immigrant Welcome Center. Spanish-speaking newcomers across Indianapolis have Ruiz’s number. They know he’s the guy to connect them to the resources they need to succeed in their new hometown.
Ruiz was a taxi driver and tour guide in his home state of Quindio, Colombia before immigrating to Indianapolis in 2007. In fact, he was featured in a 2006 New York Times article about the coffee trail and how Colombia came to develop renowned coffee beans. He met his wife when she was a visiting Colombia and eventually immigrated to Indianapolis where they live today.
His skills as a tour guide translated well to his new life in Indianapolis as he began volunteering through his church, St. Mary’s in downtown Indianapolis, and eventually connected with the Immigrant Welcome Center. After completing training, Ruiz became a natural helper working to help his fellow newcomers connect with everything from language classes to job programs.
“I give my telephone number to everybody and I am okay that everybody calls,” he said, learning quickly that while people might seek help for one or two issues, a face-to-face conversation often reveals many more needs. His job as facilities manager at St. Mary’s allows him to extend his reach into the community.
Throughout central Indiana there are dozens of natural helpers like Ruiz working with foreign-born newcomers integrate into the community. People representing 120 nationalities bring their talents to Indianapolis, building vibrant and diverse neighborhoods.
“Live local, think global” is a corporate communications event being held Sept. 10 at the Athenaeum in Indianapolis to raise fund and highlight the vital work of the Immigrant Welcome Center. Hosted by IWC and the Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce, the event promises an evening of robust discussions about how the business community can be ready for the influx of foreign-born newcomers. Panelists include leaders from the Chamber, Eli Lilly, Cummins and other businesses will share their perspectives.
Learn about how to make our community welcoming to all newcomers by attending. The is open to the public and for information about how to get your ticket: Click here to register