Gladis Argueta, this week’s Homegrown Hero, has travelled to Chicago and Columbus to support the New York Red Bulls, alongside the Viking Army. As the MLS is Back Tournament is taking place in Florida, Argueta is adapting to a new way of supporting the Red Bulls.
“It was definitely different, but the enthusiasm was there,” said Argueta about watching Saturday’s game in a Zoom room. “It was with Atlanta, so definitely we knew it was going to be a really fun game, a really exciting game but definitely you missed the friends and when we scored, everybody was cheering on their own in their little screens. It felt weird, no beer showers.”
Argueta, who’s from El Salvador and is a Field Nurse for Horizon NJ Health, has had to adapt to the new times, especially when the number of COVID-19 patients surged in the area.
“When the pandemic started getting out of hand, the state decided to pull us out of the field and do work from home, making sure that the members had their medications, following up on their care,” she said. “So it’s been way different, it’s been very challenging, hearing all these stories, with people who are out of food, who have no informal support to help them get their medication, who had to cancel surgeries.
“It's been very challenging trying to do what we know we can do, but with limited resources, and without the face to face contact. We’re no longer going to their homes to assist their needs in order to keep ourselves safe, to keep them safe. It’s quite difficult going from home to home, trying to avoid any spread of this virus because it’s very sneaky.”
She’s always been inspired by how doctors and nurses take care of their patients, and when she made the decision to become a nurse, she knew she had what it takes to help people out.
“I love nursing. Ever since I was young, I helped my grandma take care of one of my uncles,” said Argueta. “My uncle was very ill. He was in the hospital for about six months, and I would go with her during the summer almost every day and the way the nurses and doctors cared, how they took care of my loved one, that really impacted me and left me, you know, wanting to do that because I love to help out.
“I like to volunteer, I like to always lend a hand where I can. Knowing that I could pick a career, a tough one, but a very rewarding one, that I can do that for the rest of my life, that I can use my knowledge, use my skills, use my care for people, that’s what I wanted to do. I knew it wasn't going to be easy because nursing school, and the nursing environment is very tough. Regardless of the pandemic, it’s always been very hard, but I just wanted to give back, I knew that I had it, I knew I could do it.”
The fact she’s from El Salvador allows her to quickly help out patients that may only speak Spanish.
“When patients know that you speak Spanish, they definitely feel more comfortable as they can communicate more efficiently, I can understand their needs and help them appropriately,” she noted. “They can be more specific about how they're feeling, they can elaborate more about their symptoms. So definitely, having that connection with the language, with being Hispanic and speaking Spanish, definitely makes them feel more comfortable. Even though we come from different countries, our rice and beans and our food also brings us together, our cafecito, you always try to make ways to feel comfortable and like I said, even though we come from different countries, we share a lot of the same traditions, customs.”
In 2016, the Red Bulls hosted Salvadoran club Alianza FC in CONCACAF Champions League group play. Argueta will never forget that evening because her two favorite clubs were battling it out at Red Bull Arena. Her heart was split in two.
“My two favorite teams played against each other, it was a cool experience and just like the Red Bulls fans, the Alianza fans were crazy,” she remembered. “I was sitting at 102, I was sitting at the Southward, but I did have a flag of Alianza, so I was splitting my time between cheering for Red Bulls and cheering for Alianza. It was just a fun night overall. Whoever wins, wins, whoever loses, loses. It is what it is, it’s the game, and that’s the best part of it. You enjoy the entire time, and that’s what I love so much about soccer - it’s such an intense emotional sport.”
Argueta describes Red Bull Arena as her second home. She’s been a club supporter for six years already, and as she’s fulfilling her American Dream, she’s already drawing out how she plans to help out people in El Salvador.
“Hopefully once things get better and further my love in nursing, possibly work on building programs in El Salvador to help out people because that’s what we come here,” she said. “We come here for the American Dream and work to achieve it, but at the same time, never forget where you come from. What I’ve learned, what I’ve gained, and what I’ve been able to accomplish, I can’t keep that to myself. I have to keep sharing and keep helping others because that's what I love. And that’s why I'm a Board Member of the Viking Army because it’s about the team. We do a lot of charity, we help a lot, we reach out, we’re there for each other and that's just, that’s a big part of who I am.”