Hispanic Heritage Month: Remembering Erwin M. Vasquez M.D.
As he lie in a hospital bed waiting for a medical scan, Erwin M. Vasquez, M.D. said to his friend and fellow physician who was standing by his bedside, Ricardo, please take over the Clinic for me and finish the job I started. Little did I know that those would be the last words ever spoken by my beloved husband. He passed away one hour later on September 2, 2010. As I look back at that day with sadness of the loss of this kind and God-loving man, it seems to make sense that his final thoughts would be exactly what they were, a deep, honest concern for those in need was at the core of who Erwin had always been.
Light of the World Clinic: A true community project
Erwin Marcos Vasquez was born in Margarita Island, Venezuela into a devout family whose foundational belief involved helping those who were suffering. After beginning his sole cardiology practice in Fort Lauderdale he and toward that aim, in 1989 he founded the Light of the World Clinic, (Clinica Luz del Mundo. His purpose in founding this clinic was to follow the foundation set out by his family. His free medical facility would serve the needy and those families who were falling through the cracks of an already burdened public health system. Now celebrating its 25th year, the Clinic boasts more than 45 physicians, nurses and healthcare professionals who donate their time in a cadre of services to treat more than 12,000 people a year. The clinic receives small grants and private donations to keep the doors open and services free 6 days a week. This example of a true community project of love is one legacy left behind by a family and a man who believed in helping others.
The Hispanic Entrepreneurial Spirit
I was introduced to Erwin in 1988, when he asked me to organize the first celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month in Broward County, called ViVA BROWARD! and to assist him with an international cycling event, named TOUR of the AMERICAS. An out of the box physician, he also purchased the first Spanish newspaper, El Heraldo de Broward in 1988 and I became the Co-owner/ Managing Editor of the weekly bilingual publication. We also formed a public relations/marketing firm, Latin Power, Inc. with the aim of adding a Hispanic flavor to the mainstream. Today, El Heraldo de Broward has branched out to include event production and management.
For the years that followed, Erwin offered me a deeper understanding of cultural diversity. We combined our voluntarism and were able to do more together. Although our worlds were different, our principles and values were essentially the same and we married in 1996. Together we formed a $1 million Vasquez Family Fund with the Broward Community Foundation geared to assisting the elderly. During our time together we actively participated on more than 30 non-profit boards in South Florida.
About the author
Elaine M. Vasquez is the owner of Broward’s first bilingual newspaper, El Heraldo de Broward, publishing since 1974.. She is a seasoned public relations and marketing executive who pioneered the cable television industry in Broward County from 1970 to 1985 having co-owned a company that eventually became Comcast Communciations. She previously owned a multicultural communications company, Latin Power, Inc. and presently owns a special events company, We Do Events, Inc. which produces the annual Hispanic Women of Distinction charity luncheon, Fiesta! Fort Lauderdale, Viva Broward! Fort Lauderdale, Viva Broward!
Calendar of Events for Hispanic Heritage Month and over 200 galas, outdoor fairs and festivals, private fundraisers and political activities. Elaine’s pioneering ventures inspired her to develop a unique set of skills that formed the backbone of her story and still makes an impact on her business and social life today.