We had the good fortune of connecting with Marisol Rodriguez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marisol, where are your from? We’d love to hear about how your background has played a role in who you are today?
I was born in Puerto Rico; my siblings and I were brought to the US when I was two by my parents. My father was a drug user and abusive to the family, so eventually, he had to be removed from our home. That made my mother a single parent of six children; I spent the early part of my life watching my mother struggle to make sure her children had food and a roof over their heads. There was no talk about the future, no dreaming or goal setting. We just survived. I was able to break the cycle of generational poverty I was born into but only because of the intervention of someone outside my family who helped me get a job that turned into a lucrative career. Today I am painfully aware of how many people are still trapped in poverty (especially children raised in a single mother household) for lack of intervention. Breaking the cycle of poverty requires more than a job and money, it requires knowledge that is not taught in under-resourced homes, and it requires mentoring to help navigate the journey to self-sufficiency. Today my passion is to help single mothers and their children break out of generational poverty.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
My business is a non-profit named RENEW Life Center, our mission is to help families overcome generational poverty by providing life-changing programs that lead to economic self-sufficiency, healthy relationships, and restored dignity. What makes us different from other non-profits is that we address the root causes of poverty. Most non-profits that help the poor are focusing on helping them get a job, a home, food or other basic needs; although all those things are very important and are needed, it doesn’t help them overcome poverty, it just helps them survive.
Looking back at my life, I realized what kept my family in poverty was a lack of knowledge. When we had jobs, a home and food we were doing ok but we were not getting ahead. It wasn’t until I read a book titled A Framework for Understanding Poverty, by Dr. Ruby Payne did I understand that we couldn’t get ahead because we did not know how to successfully navigate the educational & professional environments. Once I received that information and mentoring from a caring adult my life took off. At RENEW Life Center that’s what we do; we give single moms the education they need to successfully navigate the educational and professional world so that when they do get a job they can excel at it and turn it into a career. We have seem moms and children’s lives transformed through our educational programs and mentoring.
I want to the world to know that RENEW Life Center is moving families from surviving to thriving!
Raising the money to open the center luckily was easy. When I approached individuals and organizations with our approach to addressing poverty they new we were on to something different and they were happy to support us.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
You could take them on a tour of RENEW Life Center in Paterson. After the tour of the Center you can go to the Paterson Great Falls National Park, after a nice walk and selfies by the falls you should go to Noches de Colombia in Paterson for some great Colombian food and the best Margaritas anywhere!
You can spend a day of kayaking fun on the Rockaway River which is right behind my house. After a day on the river you can have a nice relaxing dinner at That’s Amoré the best Italian restaurant in Denville NJ.
You can visit the Grounds for Sculpture. Grounds For Sculpture is a fantastic museum, sculpture garden, and arboretum where art and nature are always at play. You can end this day with dinner at Rat’s, a gorgeous and exquisite French restaurant located on the grounds.
NYC is only 40 minutes away so heading to the Big Apple where you can tour the city on the Hop on Hop off Bus, visit museums, catch a Broadway show and go on a dinner cruise around Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
These would be my recommendations.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I would like to shout out Sanyika Calloway, Michele Clark and Evelyn Acosta for their encouragement and support in the founding of RENEW Life Center, and I would like to shoutout The Crossing Church of Livingston NJ for providing the funding to make our non-profit a reality.
Celestina Ando Photography