Marie Martinez is a staple at CHI’s Marathon Health Center, can fix her own cars, and makes a mean Cuban coffee. ALEX RICKERT/Keys Weekly

We’ll admit: though Keys Weekly is tasked with reporting the news in the Keys every week, we’ve got a problem. No matter how many individuals appear in the pages of each edition of our papers, there are always so many more of our community members who deserve to be recognized. In an effort to shine a spotlight on more of the incredible individuals who live and work in these islands, Keys Weekly is proud to introduce our Neighbor of the Week feature, dedicated to celebrating a community member with each issue. Our first featured individual is no stranger to the many residents and visitors passing through the doors of Community Health of South Florida’s Marathon Health Center.


Patient financial service specialist, CHI

How did you originally come to Marathon? I’m originally from Chicago and came to Marathon in December 1998 from Puerto Rico, where I graduated from college with an associate’s degree.

What would you like to be remembered for? Everyone at CHI Marathon would remember me by the Cuban coffee that they always ask me to make. My family would remember me by the food that I make and always talking about classic cars.

What song always gets you on the dance floor? I have an eclectic taste as far as music. What gets me on the dance floor can be anything from disco music to pop music.

What is your dream vacation? My dream vacation would be to go to Mexico and Europe with my family.

What is the last book you read or TV show you binged? The TV shows I love to binge watch most are paranormal series.

What would you do if you won the lottery? If I won the lottery, I would buy a 4 bedroom house, my dream car (a 1968 Chevy Impala SS), and put money into my kids’ accounts so that they don’t have to worry about any expenses they may have in the future.

What’s the weirdest or funniest app on your phone? I normally have Facebook and email on my phone. No weird apps.

What’s one thing that is always on the menu, but you will never try? I’m willing to try everything once … except for cow tongue.

What’s one thing most people never knew about you? I can maintain my vehicle myself without the help of a mechanic (on certain things).

Two truths and a lie? I love chocolate, I make great coffee but don’t drink it, and my favorite song is “Perfect” by Ed Sheeran and Andrea Bocelli. (Editor’s note: check back next week to see which was the lie!)What’s the best advice you’ve ever received or given? The best advice that I’ve ever received was to always tell the truth and be yourself.

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.