Mamiverse is delighted to announce the Silver Honoree and winner of a $2,500 Target GiftCard in our Latina Moms Changing America Contest, Annette Rivera! She, and all of the fantastic nominees, deserve a round of applause for sharing their stories, sharing themselves, and inspiring all of us to be the best moms and daughters we can be.
A single mother of three, Annette Rivera has worked at Home Depot for the past 22 years and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. Her strong faith and dedication to helping others is reflected in her favorite quote from Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
As if her schedule weren’t full enough with work, school, and caring for her own children (one of whom suffers from the bleeding disorder hemophilia), two years ago Annette took in the special needs child of a family friend. Now 8-years old, he has flourished under Annette’s care. Although he is still in diapers, he has learned to walk and is learning sign language.
LOSS AND LOVE
At the same time she was helping her own mother who was fighting cancer. Annette lost her father in 1990 and was determined to do everything she could to help her mother through her illness. She was unable to work a lot during this time and nearly lost her house on more than one occasion. She credits God and a wonderfully understanding manager at work for enabling her family to make it through this hardship. Although it broke her heart to see her mother’s suffering, Annette was grateful that she was able to take her dying breath at home surrounded by her loving family. Annette also handled all of the funeral arrangements. Through it all, she never missed a day of school.
While spending time with her mother in the hospital, Annette met a 14-year-old girl named Jazzy who had been diagnosed with osteosarcoma (a particularly insidious form of bone cancer). Annette’s mother lost her battle with cancer in February 2011—shortly after that, Annette learned that Jazzy was still very ill and that her prognosis wasn’t good. Although she was still mourning her mother’s passing, Annette began a fundraising campaign through Facebook to grant Jazzy’s dying wish to visit Puerto Rico. “I did not even think about it twice, I just knew I had to help make her wish come true,” says Annette. And she did. Jazzy was able to spend a week in Puerto Rico before she lost her own battle with cancer in October 2011.
JUST DOING IT
When asked how she manages to do so much, Annette simply says: “I must say the craziness in life keeps me going and if I was not this busy it might give me time to think about how sad I feel with the many losses this year. I have always been a go-getter, so this is not out of the norm for me. How I actually do it, I don’t know, and I realize it’s a lot when others ask me how I manage do it all. It’s just ‘my normal’ I guess.”
It’s easy to see why the close friend who nominated Annette for the Latina Moms Changing America contest describes her as an angel, an inspiration, and a super Latina mom who gives from the heart—she’s managed to find the good in so much hardship and loss. In addition to her other endeavors, this year she participated in a Walk for Hemophilia and she volunteers for Habitat For Humanity and Kaboom.
Annette was pleasantly surprised to learn of her nomination. “When I found out I was nominated by my co-worker Lisa, I cried like a baby,” she says. “I guess I did not see what she saw in me. I humbly say that I don’t see a big deal with what I did or what I do because I just do it. It felt good to read it and that is why I cried because she saw me in a light that I never saw myself.”
Mamiverse is thrilled to have been able to help Annette make this Christmas extra merry and allow her to share her generous spirit with other moms who are struggling in this tough economy. She used her Target GiftCard to buy gifts, first for a friend’s kids, then for her own four children. She also got some necessities (like a bed for her 8-year-old son) and is wisely keeping some money on the card to use in the future.
NURTURING A GIVING NATURE
Already, her children are learning a lesson in paying it forward from their mother, who wishes she could do even more. “I am a giver by nature and if I had a lot money I would help so many people because I see their struggles. Since I don’t have the money, I give of my time and when I can, I take the kids so that it’s a part of who they are and they will always feel the need to give back. It’s such a rewarding feeling and thankfully the kids feel the same way.”
Despite losing her mother and Jazzy and other family members within a seven-month period, Annette stays optimistic. “Life goes on, and so I keep a smile on my face and say, ‘I trust you, God.’ This positive attitude truly helps my kids, and my friends and co-workers when they are struggling,” she says. “I’m a firm believer that you bring about what you talk about, so I keep it positive and motivating, even in my tough days.”
Annette Rivera truly is a Latina Mom Changing America, leading by example and touching the lives of everyone around her. She is a loving mother to her own children, and her selflessness, strength, and dedication to making life better for others in the face of huge obstacles is an inspiration not only to her friends and co-workers, but to all of us.
Check back soon for the profile of our 3rd place honoree; and don’t miss our profile of Grand Prize Honoree Dr. Maria Elisa Paredes!