Orlando Realtor Benjamin Urrutia, shown at far right wearing a gray suit with a red tie, proudly represents the Maitland Rotary Club, which partnered with the Bogota-Occidente Rotary Club to raise money to help underprivileged children in his home country of Colombia. A former member of the Bogota-Occidente Rotary Club Urrutia visited Colombia this past fall to present equipment and money to the cause.
ORLANDO, Fla. – Community service has always been important for Benjamin Urrutia, a sales associate with Charles Rutenberg Realty in Orlando.
“I came to Orlando in 2003 after living in Colombia and Chicago,” says Urrutia. “While in Colombia, I was a member of the Rotary Club of Bogota-Occidente, so once I was in Orlando, I joined the Rotary Clubs of Maitland to serve my community.”
Urrutia is doing more than serving his Orlando community. He’s also helping underprivileged children in his home country of Colombia.
“There is a large population of underprivileged children with the syndrome of cleft lip and palate,” he says.” Without medical intervention, life will be hard for them.”
So, he and other members of the Maitland Rotary Club came up with the idea to partner with the Bogota-Occidente Rotary Club to help those children by donating money to buy equipment for a rural school in Bogota. Once that money was raised, the group moved to their second goal – to fund an organization called Fisulab, which provides medical and psychological help to children and teens who have a cleft lip and palate. Fisulab was founded in 2000.
“It does more than medical care,” says Urrutia. “They have family workshops where they talk about the different aspects of cleft lip and palate, such as social consequences, how to deal with grief and a walk-through before and after surgery.”
He says, “It’s so important to help these children assimilate into the community.” With Urrutia’s help, the Maitland Rotary raised some $37,000 to donate to Fisulab.
He recalls, “I was able to visit Colombia in October 2018 to present at the official ceremony when we delivered the equipment and money.”
What Urrutia saw moved him.
“It was exciting to see kids who were now adults and had been through treatment – kids who learned to talk again and were now engineers, psychologists and nurses,” he says. “They were able to overcome their handicap and become productive members of society.”
He was especially taken with a “fellow who was now an architect and plays the piano. He had such a hard time when he was younger trying to pronounce words correctly, and now he’s a success,” Urrutia says.
While this project is now completed, Urrutia has encouraged the Maitland Rotary Club to take on a clean water initiative.
“We would like to repair the desalination plant in a rural area of Colombia inhabited by Indian tribes,” he explains. “The area is so close to the ocean. Without a working desalination plant, the water is brackish and of inferior quality.” Their goal is to raise $27,000 for the project.
For Urrutia, it’s all about serving others.
He says, “It is part of our job as Realtors and within the Rotary International Creed to serve others above oneself. I believe deeply in that creed.”