Things That Matter

Spurred By Anger At The Trump Administration, One Latina Entrepreneur Raised $9,000 For Migrant Children

When pictures emerged last week of the devastating conditions immigrant children were being subjected to at detention centers, Patty Rodriguez felt she couldn’t idly stand by. The images made such an impact on Rodriguez that she knew she had to do something to help the children any way she could.

In one weekend, the co-founder and author of bilingual children’s books Lil’ Libros mobilized her social media followers to raise over $9,000..

Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

Rodriguez mobilized her 90,000 Instagram followers to raise enough money to send hundreds of pairs of shoes to a shelter in Texas. On June 28, Rodriguez saw a photo of a little boy about her son’s age, with a diaper completely soiled and wrapped in a foil blanket. The phot was enough to spur the entrepreneur into action.

“How are people debating this?” Rodriguez said while choking up during a phone interview with mitú.

Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

“There’s no time to focus on that. I went on Zappos to buy shoes myself, and I thought I could purchase a handful myself, or ask my community on Instagram if they wanted to help,” Rodriguez said. “People want to help, they just don’t know how. There’s all this information that you can’t donate to detention centers, but there’s a loophole that you can donate to shelters, but people just don’t know that.”

The shoes are not the only way Rodriguez is using her platform to help the migrants. She recently teamed up with Super Mamá’s Bricia Lopez to raise money for RAICES.

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⁣ I can’t sit here and do nothing. ⁣ ⁣ We have seen the headlines. Migrant children being treated worse than animals. Living in the worst conditions, going days without showering and having a nutritious meal. Children as young as my little Oliver walking around soiled without diapers – having no one around to hold them and properly love and care for them. ⁣ ⁣ We have seen the horrendous images of a 2 year old and her father, having drowned after attempting to cross the border. ⁣ ⁣ My heart breaks. And I feel helpless. And I cannot continue to go about my life without trying to help and I think the best way right now is using our platforms. ⁣ ⁣ @bricialopez and I are coming together for a very intimate dinner with 100% of the proceeds— meaning, every penny will go to two foundations working around the clock to offering assistance to families and children at the border, @raicestexas and @thisisabouthumanity. I know many of you guys have asked how you can help. We hope that this dinner inspires you and encourages to help. ⁣ ⁣ This is your opportunity to pick our brains about anything and everything and help our children at the border. ⁣ ⁣ We will have drinks with you, dinner with you, we will even FaceTime your mom! ⁣ ⁣ Dinner will be at Bricia’s restaurant @laGuelaguetza on July 9 at 5p⁣. ⁣ Tag your friends. Let’s come together. We cannot continue seeing our black and brown children hurting and do nothing. ⁣ ⁣ Tickets are very limited and are $150, remember every penny will go to the organizations. ⁣ ⁣ You can purchase now by clicking link on my profile. ⁣ ⁣ And even if you can’t make it, I hope this inspires you to give what you can to the organizations mentioned above.

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“I called my girlfriend Bricia Lopez to do a dinner and use our platform to get people inspired. Within hours we had set up a website, it was $150 a ticket, and in less than 12 hours we had sold out. 100 percent of the proceeds go to RAICES,” she said.

RAICES is a non-profit legal services organization in Texas. They made national news when the migrant crisis started directly targeting children at the southern border. They offer legal aid to the migrants as they cross into the U.S. to guarantee the best outcome for their cases.

Rodriguez used the momentum from selling out her charity dinner in less than a day to push to do more.

Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

“I saw a photo of a little girl, Afro-Latina, with foil blanket [strings] to tie her hair—things we take for granted. I got fired up and decided to put it [buying shoes] on Instagram Stories and show the receipts through the process,” Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez started posting on her Instagram Stories about buying shoes and asking her followers to help at 9 p.m. Friday night. By Saturday morning, her Venmo account had reached $7,000 with donations.


Credit: pattyrodriguez / Instagram

Sunday saw another outpouring of donations and her account hit $8,000. By Monday morning, $9,000 had been raised to help the children at the detention centers.

In total, Rodriguez estimates she was able to buy 50 pairs of high-quality shoes for every $1,000 raised. With $9,000, Rodriguez said she estimates Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande will be receiving close to 400 pairs of shoes.

Sizes ranging from toddler sizes to sizes for 15 to 16-year-olds will be shipped out and arriving as soon as this week.

“As a mother of two kids, I can’t sit down and do nothing. I spent Saturday on Zappos figuring out what’s the fastest way to get it done,” Rodriguez said.

No matter how small the action—or donation—Rodriguez sees it contributing to the good of the cause. Although some donors were writing to her that they didn’t think their $1 or $5 donation would do much but they wanted to help, she encouraged them by continuing to post on her stories that every dollar was helping a child get a new pair of much-needed shoes. 

Rodriguez calls it being the “granito de arena in a situation.” 

Credit: Instagram / pattyrodriguez

Tiny but mighty changes can make a big difference. When asked if a call for donations will happen again, Rodriguez said she is open to the opportunity.

“It’s spur-of-the-moment—that’s how I operate. I would like to think it’s something I can continue doing. Perhaps more streamlined—helping more shelters,” she said.

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Date night with my heart. @lafc

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Rodriguez said she is aware that as much as shelters are in need of basic necessities, they also don’t have enough hands. She continues to wonder what shelters may be in most need of besides shoes, and if it’s better to send money to the shelter or if sending over boxes of items is better.

“I haven’t thought that far,” Rodriguez said. “I want to continue helping because this situation won’t have a solution anytime soon. We have to continue advocating and continue collaborating as a community.”

While she said there’s not much we can do right now besides calling Congress, she still wants to encourage others to galvanize awareness.

“What we can do as a community is mobilizing to donate and help shelters where kids are being held,” she said.

Rodriguez said she hopes this inspires others to start their own donation drives within their own community, work, and a group of friends. When one granitode arena joins with another, it can be a sandstorm of change.

READ: All Of The Migrant Children That Have Been Killed At The U.S. Border

Twenty Years Ago The US Sided With Fidel Castro To Send Back Elián Gonzales, Here’s Why His Story Still Matters Today

Things That Matter

Twenty Years Ago The US Sided With Fidel Castro To Send Back Elián Gonzales, Here’s Why His Story Still Matters Today

Associated Press

About 20 years ago, 5-year-old Elián Gonazalez arrived three miles off the coast of Fort Lauderdale from Cuba, on a makeshift raft, in search of his relatives in the states and a better life. Gonzalez’s survival through the arduous waters that would drown his mother and a dozen others along the way, might have been the media’s narrative in a different circumstance. 

The 5-year-old would soon become embroiled in an international custody battle. Did Gonzalez belong back in Cuba with his father or in Miami’s Little Havana with his uncle which many believed was his mother’s dying wish? 

The communist leader of Cuba at the time Fidel Castro wanted him back — and although the U.S. government initially placed the boy with his Cuban-exile relatives, they would eventually side with the dictator

Elián Gonzalez arrived in Florida in 1999 over Thanksgiving weekend.

Up until 2017, the United States had a “wet feet, dry feet,” policy with regards to Cuban migrants — all were welcome. The policy from 1966 allowed anyone who entered the United States territorial waters from Cuba, legally or illegally, to reside. It was revised in 1995 by the Clinton administration so that any Cubans retrieved in the territorial waters would be sent back, but if they made it onto dry land they would be allowed to stay. 

Gonzalez was found by South Florida fisherman in 1999 over Thanksgiving weekend. The 5-year-old was welcomed by the anti-communist community of Cuban exiles. The United States Immigration and Naturalization Service placed Gonzalez with his paternal relatives who lived in Miami and wanted to raise him, however, his father in Cuba demanded his son be returned.

 Under the “wet feet, dry feet” policy, Gonzalez would have to petition for asylum because he was discovered before touching dry land. This small detail would cause a six-month, international legal battle and shift the way many Florida Cubans perceive American politics. 

Courts decide to send Gonzalez back to Cuba. 

While Cuban demonstrators and empathetic Americans supported the stay of Gonzalez — the governmental powers that be were building a case that suggested otherwise. A Florida family court granted custody to Gonzalez’s great uncle in Miami. However, INS had the superior authority to decide that his real legal guardian was his father in Cuba. Had the boy’s mother survived, things might have turned out differently. 

On March 21, District Court Judge Kevin Michael Moore of Southern Florida ruled that only a legal guardian can petition for asylum on behalf of a minor. But on April 19, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta ruled that Gonzalez could stay until his family could file an appeal. When government negotiations failed with the family, more extreme measures were taken to retrieve the boy.

On April 22, 2000, on orders from Attorney General Janet Reno, armed government officials raided Gonzalez’s home with guns and tear gas. A photo showing a crying 5-year-old Gonzalez with a large gun pointed to his face would later win the Pulitzer Prize. 

Gonzalez was safely repatriated back to Cuba.

The Gonzalez decision may have affected the outcome of the 2000 election.

Following the Clinton administration, the 2000 election was a turning point in American politics. Many Cubans felt alienated by the Gonzalez decision, and thus, walked away from the Democratic party altogether. 

“It was humiliating to Cuban-Americans, and the 2000 election was payback,” Miami pollster Sergio Bendixen told the Atlantic in 20001.

Republican George W. Bush won by 537 votes during a messy (and possibly corrupt) recount of the 6 million votes cast in Florida, beating out Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore. Known as “el voto castigo,” Gore received only 20 percent of the Cuban vote in Florida, compared to Bill Clinton’s 35 percent in 1996. Thus, 80 percent of Cuban American voters chose Bush over Gore — which should be a lesson to both parties trying to build Latinx coalition. 

Bush would go on to start the endless war in Iraq, utilize Islamophobic rhetoric in the wake of 9/11, trigger one of the worst recessions, and until recently, was considered the worst president in U.S. history. Gore would go on to warn us about climate change decades before the discourse entered the national conversation. 

What has become of Elián Gonzalez today? 

Gonzalez, in his 20s, is now a communist and staunch supporter of the Cuban Revolution. He was welcomed with a celebration upon his deportation. On his seventh birthday, Fidel Castro himself attended his birthday party. 

Whether Gonzalez is on the right side of history is beside the point because the 5-year-old boy could not have become who he is today without instigation by the United States. Communist-sympathizer or not — he was correct about one thing: 

“Just like her [his mother], many others have died attempting to go to the United States. But it’s the US government’s fault,” Gonzalez told CNN in 2013. “Their unjust embargo provokes an internal and critical economic situation in Cuba.”

Ricky Martin And Jwan Yosef Welcome 4th Baby To Their Adorable Family

Entertainment

Ricky Martin And Jwan Yosef Welcome 4th Baby To Their Adorable Family

ricky_martin / Instagram

Ricky Martin seems to be living his best life with his husband, Jwan Yosef, as they welcomed the arrival of their fourth child into their growing family. In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Martin shared a precious photo of Renn Martin-Yosef, who is seen sleeping, bundled in a pear-printed swaddle, and held by a smiling, overjoyed Martin. 

While accepting a Human Rights Campaign award for his LGBTQ+ advocacy last month, Martin announced that the couple was pregnant. “My husband Jwan, I love you,” he announced from the podium. “My beautiful twins, Valentino and Matteo, they’re also here, I love you with all my heart, you’re my strength, you inspire me every day, you motivate me to keep doing what I’m doing and you guys are amazing kids. You guys are amazing. I love you.” Then, the news: “And by the way, I have to announce that we are pregnant. We are waiting. I love big families.”

Wait no longer, fam! Renn looks like the angel the Martin-Yosef family deserves.

Credit: ricky_martin / Instagram

Nuestro hijo Renn Martin-Yosef ha nacido,” Martin captioned the Instagram share, which means, “Our son, Renn Martin-Yosef was born” in English. Yosef shared the same image and captioned it, “Our baby boy is here.” Friends, family, and even celebrities like Mario Lopez have shared their congratulations via social media. Lopez commented, “Felicidades amigo!” Now, the Martin-Yosef family is a family of six. Here’s the whole story.

Martin started his family as a single father in 2008, after welcoming two twin boys by a surrogate mother.

Credit: ricky_martin / Instagram

After Matteo and Valentino were born, Martin took two years off to completely devote himself to raising the children. The twins have always known how they came into the world, though it started with one of them asking Martin if they came from his belly. It was clear from the beginning of Martin and Yosef’s relationship that Yosef was just as obsessed with Matteo and Valentino as Martin was. Yosef has often publicly thanked the twins (on social media and otherwise) for being the light of his life.

Martin and Yosef started dating in April 2016. Five months later, they announced their engagement on the “Ellen Degeneres Show.”

Credit: jwanyosef / Instagram

When you know, you know, as they say. Yosef is a painter and artist, and is of Kurdish and Armenian descent, though he maintains citizenship in Syria and Sweden. The lovebirds were married less than two years after they met, in January 2018. By the end of the year (December 31, 2018), they announced the birth of their daughter Lucía Martin-Yosef. 

They kept baby Lucía out of the spotlight for the first 7 months of her life, and then, this precious photo graced the Internet.

Credit: jwanyosef / Instagram

Earlier this year, Yosef shared this stunning photo of Lucía pondering the meaning of life, while held in Martin’s arms. He captioned the image, “❤️We are beyond happy to announce that we have become parents to a beautiful and healthy baby girl, Lucia Martin-Yosef. It has been a special time for us and we cant wait to see where this stellar baby will take us. Both her beautiful brothers and me and Ricky have fallen in love with Lucia.” Martin captioned his own post of the same image, “La luz de mis ojos,” which means, “the light of my eyes.”

At the Human Rights Campaign awards ceremony last month, Martin also gave a shout-out to Lucía, who stayed home with her grandma, and called her “the light of my life.”

The couple plans to have “many more kids” together.

Credit: ricky_martin / Instagram

It’s clear that fatherhood is a vocation for Martin, having taken years off his career to raise the twins by himself, he’s not stepping back from family anytime soon, if ever. Ahead of the 2019 Golden Globes, Martin shared a photo of him “#Multitasking Getting ready for the @goldenglobes,” with baby Lucía. Then, on the carpet, Martin told People, “I want four more pairs of twins. I would love to have a big family, but there’s a lot going on at this moment, a lot of work. It’s a lot going on so we’re going to put things in order first and then we are going to get ready for many more kids.”

Raise your hand if you’re ready to put yourself up for adoption to be part of the Martin-Yosef family. 🙋🏽‍♀️

READ: Ricky Martin Introduced His Baby Girl To Fans To Ring In The New Year