SENIOR SPOTLIGHT: DIANA GUILLÉN
She’s attended the church since 1996. More recently, however, Guillén has become the de facto Spanish translator at the New Community Douglas Homes Senior Housing on Hill Street in .Newark, where she and her younger sister, Gloria, moved in July of 2012.
Guillén, 70, provides both written and spoken translations—she translates the monthly calendar of activities and events and makes announcements in Spanish over the building-wide intercom system. She is also secretary of the building tenant’s association and translates during meetings.
“It’s important they hear what’s going on,” she said of the 22 Spanish-speaking residents living in Douglas Homes.
Vivian Pounder, who oversees management of the building, called Guillén “a gem.”
“She’s such a big help,” Pounder said of Guillén’s efforts to involve Hispanic residents in activities.
Born in 1943 in San Salvador, the capital city of El Salvador, Guillén has trekked the globe. She moved to Canada and graduated high school there, attended college in New York, and lived for seven years in Madrid, Spain, where she worked as a bi-lingual secretary. She is fluent in Spanish, French and English and said she became a U.S. citizen in 1994.
Guillén said she grew up Catholic but had a crisis of faith in her early 30s, which was exacerbated by a serious car crash where a friend was killed and Guillén injured several vertebrae. But after what Guillén says was a miraculous healing of her spine, she took up her faith with renewed fervor. As a volunteer at Time Square Church, Guillén is part of of an inter-denominational church where sermons are translated into anywhere from six to 12 languages during three Sunday services. If you attend the 3 p.m. service and tune into the Spanish version, you will hear her voice.
The two sisters, who previously shared the top floor of a three-family home in Astoria, N.Y., live in separate apartments down the hall from each other at Douglas Homes. That set-up makes Gloria, 64, quite happy.
“It’s the best,” she said. “We’re together but separate.”