As Panamanian-born Edilma Rodriguez strives to be a leader in her community, it all comes down to faith: faith in the idea that everyone is born for a purpose, faith in the concept of giving back, and faith in the power of visibility.
Edilma serves at Goodwill Industries in the role of Manager – Workforce Center – Bay View. Her role is all about facilitating opportunities; by creating local partnerships, she can provide resources that assist members of the community with employment search and preparation. Over the course of her 13+ years with Goodwill, Edilma has seen the program’s profound impact on others, inspiring her to continue fulfilling its mission of assisting the disadvantaged. She cites the organization’s growth-oriented approach as the catalyst for breaking down barriers to create a path for lasting change with clients and employees.
In fact, outside of maintaining open communication between local public institutions, employers, and the community at large, Edilma has been encouraged to tap into her personal strengths and experiences to expand her role. An authorized Public Translator for English/Spanish and Spanish/English, Edilma assists Spanish-speakers with the unique challenges they face. Often, this means helping them find English classes and aiding them with the immigration process.
Her passion in supporting the Hispanic community ties back to her core beliefs: That providing people and families with the tools they need to empower and sustain themselves will allow them to contribute to the betterment of society as a whole. Addressing the specific needs of the Hispanic community activates a sizable population in the greater Milwaukee area. “Hispanics have a huge congregation in our society, especially here,” Edilma notes, “and sometimes – that goes unnoticed.”
To that end, Edilma is grateful for Hispanic Heritage Month – an opportunity to celebrate Hispanic cultures and highlight their presence. Ultimately, Edilma believes this gives people a better understanding of the Hispanic community. “When you can create that better understanding, you can disable stereotypes. It’s important for people to know what we do. We’re here to help each other; let’s help no matter what we look like.”