SocialMiami contributor Marile Lopez discusses the drive and inspiration of one of Miami's most notable philanthropists.

Marile Lopez and Dr. Tatiana Arteaga-Teo
Marile Lopez and Dr. Tatiana Arteaga-Teo
Dr. Tatiana Arteaga-Teo and Marile Lopez
Dr. Tatiana Arteaga-Teo and Marile Lopez

Dr. Tatiana Arteaga-Teo reminds me there are angles among us, here to help others and to support the neediest by carrying them on their wings. Dr. Arteaga-Teo is a doctor, wife, mother of three beautiful girls and a philanthropist who is devoted to many causes.

Dr. Arteaga-Teo was born in Guatemala and moved to Miami – due to political persecution – with her family at 8 years-old.  Like most political refugees, the struggles and hardships her family endured ultimately helped Dr. Arteaga-Teo to become resilient. After high school, Dr. Arteaga-Teo graduated from Florida International University with a Chemistry degree and went on to complete her Medical degree at the University of Miami.

I met her after mutual friend Ariel Penzer introduced us several years ago…..the rest is history-or in our case-HERSTORY!! We instantly became friends and soon we were hosting and chairing events together. Dr. Arteaga-Teo serves as a donor, a board member and a devoted supporter of various charities including: Libre Infancia; Stan the Helper; Lotus House; Chapman Partnership; Ayuvi USA; Vizcaya Museum; Women of Tomorrow; and Angels for Humanity.

I sat down with Dr. Arteaga-Teo to talk about the inspiration behind her efforts.

Marile Lopez: What drives your community work?
Dr. Tatiana Arteaga-Teo: Philanthropy is what really makes me feel alive, not only giving back monetarily to many organizations but dedicating my time and getting others involved in volunteering.

Being from Guatemala, I have seen newborns and children live in the worst conditions possible- places where people shouldn’t be allowed to live.  It always makes me ask, “Why was I lucky and not them? Why do I deserve a home with a roof, a bathroom, a kitchen and all the extras that I have.” The smallest things we all take for granted these kids don’t have… So my drive comes from these children that I have met who weren’t dealt the right cards. Trying to help as many become successful and break the cycle of poverty.

Dr. Arteaga-Teo has spearheaded many philanthropic efforts in our South Florida community and beyond.  She was the founder of Shop for a Cause which has raised over $25,000 for children suffering from Cancer in Guatemala while helping local women owned business here in our Miami community.  In 2022 Dr. Arteaga-Teo and a group of volunteers helped Angels for Humanity – helping over 350 children in Guatemala’s most impoverished areas – with a medical and dental mission trip to her home country with the assistance of a local charity, Libre Infancia.

Marile Lopez: What did you feel while you were there helping those children?
Dr. Tatiana Arteaga-Teo: That was a true dream come true. To be able to utilize my medical degree and be able to use it to help kids who are so poor and have never seen a doctor or a dentist is priceless. It’s also great for these kids to see someone from Guatemala who looks like them as a doctor.  They were shocked when I would tell them that I was an MD, which I think was inspiring for them.

Dr. Tatiana Teo’s next philanthropic endeavor is Co-Chairing Angels for Humanity Second Annual “Tea for a Cause”.  The sold-out luncheon is a fun filled “tea party” raising funds and awareness for the Back-to-School Health Fair providing backpacks filled with school supplies as well as a dental screening, and health care services to over 500 underprivileged children in the South Florida Haitian community (Little Haiti) and hundreds more in Haiti.

Marile Lopez: How did you get involved with Angels for Humanity?
Dr. Tatiana Arteaga-Teo: I got involved after attending Catwalk for Charity 2020.  I was in tears, watching the impact they have on kids by doing these medical and dental missions. Helping kids not only here in Miami, but in other parts of the world was really inspiring and I wanted to be a huge part of it.

There’s really no better feeling than giving back. I have cried so many times because of the way kids, teens and adults have made me feel from meeting them.  From the smallest thing as a hug, to giving a toy, or just seeing their smiles from the happiness an event brings them is the best feeling in the world.

Tea for a Cause this year will be held on April 23 at the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. I can’t wait!   

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