National Volunteer Appreciation Week: Spotlight on San Antonio

It’s National Volunteer Appreciation Week, and we’re celebrating people in action to Stop Diabetes®. All week long, we will showcase some amazing Association volunteer-staff pairs from across the United States.

First we’ll take a look at San Antonio, where Executive Director Elizabeth Tobias and super-volunteer Marty Gonzalez are accomplishing some really amazing things.


Elizabeth Tobias in center

L to R: San Antonio volunteer Trish Aleman, Elizabeth Tobias, Marty Gonzalez.

Cultivating volunteers is an important and rewarding part of my job. I learn so much from the people I work with and find their enthusiasm so refreshing.

We look for assistance in so many ways, and it helps to have a volunteer corps and Community Leadership Board that are representative of the San Antonio community. We get all kinds of support from their professional and personal networks, including but not limited to monetary and in-kind donations.

It’s hard to calculate how many volunteers help us out every year . . . every committee has at least a dozen people, and the Tour de Cure planning group has nearly 30, for example. This doesn’t take into account the many volunteers who show up on the days of our special events, just looking to lend a hand. Goes to show you that no matter your interest and no matter how much time you have to spare, there’s always a role you can play, a need you can fill within the American Diabetes Association.

We’re just so blessed with our amazing volunteers here in San Antonio. When you go around the table, you’ll find they have been involved for four to five years on average. It’s a sustained relationship that only gets stronger with time. With this support, the Association is able to accomplish our local goals and objectives, build strong corporate relationships and weather storms such as the economic crisis of 2008.

Everyone brings their own strengths and connections to the table—but the one thing all volunteers have in common is a passion for stopping diabetes. Marty is certainly no exception. I don’t know what we’d do without her!

Elizabeth Tobias
Executive Director
American Diabetes Association of San Antonio


Marty Gonzalez of San AntonioDiabetes is prevalent in my family; my grandmother and my aunt who raised me died from complications. Even so, I joined the American Diabetes Association almost by accident. I was busy fundraising for another organization when my good work caught the eye of the chair of the Association’s local Community Leadership Board (CLB). He appointed me to the CLB and didn’t give me the opportunity to decline.

Well, that was more than ten years ago! In the time since, I myself served as chair of the CLB, for two and a half years. Our leadership base has become so diverse, representing Spanish-speakers, the media, area hospitals, the banking industry and more. We now have six practicing physicians involved with the board, more than ever before. San Antonio’s efforts have benefitted greatly from this breadth of experience; engagement and special event registrations continue to increase, year over year. We’re really a force to be reckoned with.

I think people often downplay diabetes, not just here in San Antonio but everywhere. They think it’s okay to have it. On the other hand, they also don’t know how to control it, how easy the steps can be. Education is key.

Por Tu Familia, the Association’s campaign for Hispanics and Latinos, is also near and dear to my heart. It’s essential that we get information to the Latino community about the seriousness of diabetes, its risk factors and ways to help manage the disease.

Through our work together, Elizabeth has become a dear friend. I’ve recruited other friends of mine into helping the Association too; after all, we’re all somehow affected by diabetes. It has been such a fulfilling part of my life these last ten-plus years: Volunteering to Stop Diabetes, Alto a la Diabetes!

Marty Gonzalez, Volunteer and Former Chair, Community Leadership Board
American Diabetes Association of San Antonio


Want to help us Stop Diabetes? Sign up at our new online Volunteer Center to be matched to an opportunity in your area.

Know an outstanding American Diabetes Association volunteer? Be sure to tell us about them in the comments below!


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