Ed Galarza’s been a volunteer with Gift of Life Donor Program since he received a life-saving liver transplant in 2003. As soon as the Howie’s House opened in 2011, he started volunteering here, too. He started out cooking dinners for our guests, checking them in at the Front Desk, and driving them to and from transplant hospitals for their doctor’s appointments. Seven years later, Ed’s still hanging out with us. He volunteers twice a week assisting with upkeep around the facility, performing maintenance work, and is a back-up shuttle driver.
Ed was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in the Bronx, and now lives in New Jersey. He has 2 children, 3 grandchildren, and is a retired Army veteran. He was first diagnosed with liver disease in 1999, but didn’t start to get sick until 2003. Unfortunately, there was no Howie’s House for him or his family to stay in during his transplant journey. His wife had to travel to and from the hospital by herself. He understands the importance of having a safe place to stay during such a difficult journey.
“The Howie’s House is very important,” he says. “It’s all about helping people in need.”
Ed is motivated to give back to everyone who has helped him along his own transplant journey. “I volunteer here to give back to the wonderful people who work for this organization, for my second chance at life, and for those who worked their butts off to help me get where I am today,” he says. “I get more than I give when I’m here. Being in the Howie’s House makes me feel better.”
Ed also enjoys giving back to others who are on their own transplant journeys. “I really like talking with the guests I meet. I can relate to them,” he says. “I’ve been there. I know what they’re going through and what they will go through.”
We’re so thankful for you, Ed. You help make the Howie’s House such a wonderful place!