Enjoy GRAND Magazine

for grandparents & those who love them


Meet the 2017 GRANDparent of the Year – Luisa Urquiaga

Meet the 2017 GRANDparent of the Year – Luisa Urquiaga

By Marsha Reece

Darika Aliaga was only 5-years-old when she was uprooted from her hometown in Peru. She was about to go on a journey that would affect the rest of her life.  She would learn a new language, new customs, and pledge her allegiance to a new country.

(L) Luisa Urquiaga with granddaughter, Darika Aliaga

She felt she could do it because she was young and could adapt easily.  She was also with two people she trusted and loved, her grandfather and grandmother.  They were with Darika every step of the way.

She remembers it all very clearly.

She remembers the love, the hard work, and the small apartment they all crowded into as more family from Peru joined them.  The following is the essay that was selected naming Luisa Urquiaga as Orange County’s Grand Parent of the Year during a program sponsored by Week of the Family and presented by GRAND Magazine.



By Darika Aliaga

Why wouldn’t she be the grandparent of the year? She’s the best person on this planet!

Everyone who meets her ends up respecting her, loving her, admiring her. My grandmother is from Peru. She was born and raised there. She had her own school her and my grandfather built from the ground up, she left it all for a better future for her kids and me.

She came to this country with my grandfather without speaking a word of English. She went from being the principal of her own school to working as a housekeeper at Disney. A tremendous change, not anyone can do.

My grandmother and my grandfather went through so many things to be able to provide for their kids and myself. After my grandfather passed away my grandmother kept on working hard for us to have a good life.

I admire her strength. She’s a woman who never gives up no matter the situation. Now as a mother I look up to her, how she is always there for not only her own kids but her grandkids and now great-grandchild.

I always tell myself I want to be a strong, independent woman. A woman who isn’t scared or weak at confronting any situation. A woman who always puts family first and gives them all the love and care in the world. Someone who makes sure her family is living well and happy no matter the situation. I want to be a woman like my grandmother.

For that and more reasons I believe my grandmother should be grandparent of the year.


(L) Marsha Reece of GRAND Magazine presenting cover plaque to the 2017 winner of Orange County’s Week of the Family GRANDparent of the Year, Luisa Urquiaga.

Luisa Urquiaga has four children, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. They all now live in Central Florida.

The Orange County Week of the Family theme for 2017   


Our goal with the Week of the Family is to help build strong families. Building strong families only happens when we can really connect with each other.  This year we focused on families connecting today face-to-face and being actually present in the moment.  Here are some suggestions:

  • Work on story-telling in the home.  Relate not only stories about your day, but about plans for the future and things that happened in your past—the good, the bad and the ugly.  Strong families have learned about their past from storytelling of their predecessors and know they can make it through hard times. Additionally, it’s a great way to feel connected.
  • Spend ten minutes alone together one on one—have other children read or even have screen-time if you can get one child alone—but get 10 minutes on the timer doing whatever one of your children wants to do each day.  We can do anything for ten minutes, right?
  • Enjoy meal time together screen-free.  Pre-plan the week considering after-school schedules and choose the days of the week that work best for family dinners.  Get the kids involved so they understand how the week is laid out and even decide on what will be served that night.  #devicefreedinner Also check out www.FamilyTableTime.com for planning and topic ideas.

If you are enjoying this article, click here and have GRAND delivered right to your inbox.

It is our hope that during the Week of the Family, you can find activities and opportunities to spend time together and build stronger teams. There are many different activities and service opportunities throughout all of Orange County. We’ve  partnered with JustServe.org this year to help families find service opportunities.  It is a place where community service needs are posted by organizations and families/individuals can visit to see where help is needed.  It is a great resource and we hope you use it to find where your family can serve together during the Week of the Family.

– Orange County Week of the Family Committee


To see previous winners of Orange Coun ty’s Week of the Family GRANDparents of the Year, click heregrandparent

Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

Only $ 6.95

A Special eBook for New and Expecting GRANDparents

My Grand Baby ebook cover