She has a beautiful two-year-old son, reliable childcare, a solid extended family and a good part-time job. In fact, she just got a promotion. Roxanna Rodriguez, 25, learned Monday that she will now be an assistant manager at the Claire’s accessory shop on Duval Street in Key West.
If everything goes according to plan, Roxanne will graduate from Wesley House’s Health Families Monroe program in a few short months where she is a parent leader. The program focuses on learning development and positive parent-child interaction where parents also learn about self-sufficiency.
“She tries very hard and she’s a leader,” said Wesley House’s Molly McAteer.
Despite her older sister’s best advice, Roxanna dropped out of Key West High School before she got her diploma.
“She told me that school was easy, and work was hard,” Roxanna said, “but I didn’t listen.”
But Roxanna rallied. She took an online GED course only to find out it wasn’t an accredited learning institution. Now, she has to do it all over again — as soon as she can scrape together the money for classes and enough time to devote to studies.
“I want something to look forward to,” she said, speaking of her life goals that she views as stirring challenges rather than insurmountable obstacles.
“She’ll get there. She’s a college-bound kid, the way I see her,” said Molly.
Roxanna moved to the Keys when she was just four years old with her two sisters, father and grandmother. Her mother stayed behind in the Dominican Republic and didn’t join the rest of the family until Roxanna was 18 years old. Roxanna’s early influences were her late grandmother — “an incredible woman” — and her Aunt Tammy Rodriguez. Longtime locals will recall the owner of the Elite Dry Cleaners on Truman Avenue before Tammy moved to Fort Myers in the 1990s.
“She always wanted the best for us,” Roxanna said of Aunt Tammy. “And she helped us a lot because she was our only ‘American’ family member.”
Roxanna said her extended family is planning a traditional Christmas — lot of cooking, lots of laughs, and a Secret Santa gift exchange. Perhaps the biggest gift, though, is that her son, Danilo, seems to be growing out of his asthma condition and getting healthier and stronger every day.
“This is where I want to raise my child. I want him to enjoy the freedom of being a no-worries island kid. Plus, he gets to grow up with all of his cousins around him,” she said.
The Weekly Newspapers has partnered with The Wesley House to profile families in need during the holiday season, or, as we like to call it, the giving season. For the next four weeks, we are working together to highlight the needs of families — from Key Largo to Key West — that go beyond being able to put a toy under the Christmas tree and a turkey in the oven.
They need things like car repairs to get to and from work, and the ability to continue their education so as to earn a better paycheck. We encourage our readers to open their hearts to these families, living and working alongside us, by donating the supplies or funds they need to overcome the obstacles in their lives.
ABOUT WESLEY HOUSE
The Wesley House is a nationally accredited non-for-profit agency that administers programs to nurture children and strengthen families in Monroe County. In 2005, it accepted responsibility for the child dependency care system throughout the Florida Keys when the program was privatized in 2005. That includes case management, foster and adoptive family recruitment, training and support services when it’s necessary to remove a child from the family. It also runs a family development center and helps mothers-to-be and families with instruction and counseling.
Roxanna Rodgriguez’s most pressing need is tuition. The Key West woman paid for an online GED course that was not accredited. Now she needs to retake the tests. $178 will cover the classes and test fees. The funds collected for each family will be deposited in a distinct account for their needs. Please make checks out to Wesley House and include “Roxanna Rodgriguez” in the memo line. Mail the checks to The Wesley House, 1304 Truman Ave., Key West, FL 33040.