From one perspective, this is a story about decades: a life spanning more than ten and an unbreakable bond lasting for two.
Natividad was born in Puerto Rico 102 years ago, although she cannot remember the specific date. She grew up poor with no siblings, and was raised by her uncle after both parents were killed in a car accident when she was very young. At 15 her grandmother taught her to sew and at 18 she came to New York to find work because opportunities in Puerto Rico were scarce.
She arrived in the Bronx, the only place outside of Puerto Rico where Natividad has ever lived. She found work as a factory seamstress and eventually saved enough to buy her own industrial sewing machine so she could pick up extra projects for her “free time.” From age 18 until she stopped working at 75, Natividad’s sole focus was work because “that’s why I came here” and she needed the money to survive. She worked six days a week and only took Sundays off to go to church and rest. Natividad proudly remembers that “nobody gave me a dress, shoes, anything – everything I earned.”
For the last three decades, Natividad has lived in the same building. Given her impressive history of independence and hard work, you’d think she would be just fine on her own, but at this stage in her life she has health issues and has lost most of her eyesight. With no family, she relies on those she has trusted for years. This works out nicely, as the BronxWorks Single Stop office that serves her is located in the same building, on the same floor where Natividad lives.
Quite possibly, the person she trusts the most is BronxWorks Program Specialist Jeannette De La Rosa, who for two decades has helped Natividad secure and retain benefits ranging from Social Security to Medicare to the home health aide she relies on for her daily care. Natividad’s face breaks into a broad smile when asked about Jeannette. She simply states that Jeannette “knows how to treat people… and has good character,” bringing tears to Jeannette’s eyes. Over the years, they have built an enduring bond of mutual respect and genuine affection for each other.
Today, Natividad needs significant support but also takes matters into her own hands. She makes sure she stays out of debt, pays her own bills, and keeps up-to-date on current events by having her aide read the newspaper aloud to her. It’s clear that she wouldn’t be in the same secure, stable situation as she is today without the support of Jeannette, her BronxWorks Single Stop colleagues, and our generous donors.
This story is about so much more than decades passing or services offered. It is about remarkable people who deeply respect each other, and the special bonds they form that are lifting lives and building futures every day.
BronxWorks’ Single Stop sites offer low-income residents one place where they have access to financial, housing, benefits, and family service help at no cost. Major funding for the Single Stop program at BronxWorks is provided by Single Stop USA and the Robin Hood Foundation. Comments or questions? Send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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