Maria Rodriguez is a CNA veteran of 20 years and she has never known any other job.

Her early years were spent on the beautiful tropical island of Puerto Rico growing up with her mother and grandmother. She isn’t sure as to why her mother decided to move to the United States but she assumes it was to provide a better life for her three sisters and brother. Once her mother was settled, she sent for Maria when she was 11-years-old and they all lived in New York, more specifically, the Bronx.

“New York was an exciting new world for me. I had to adapt to my new school, I had to read and write in English, and make new friends,” Maria adds. After a short stay in the US, she moved back to Puerto Rico where she stayed with her grandmother for over 10 years.

Maria returned to New York in 1998 and decided that she wanted to be a CNA. She received her on-the-job training for over two years at a nursing home called Eastern Health Care in Pennsylvania.

“I visited Florida once many years ago and remember how much I loved the state. It reminded me of Puerto Rico with the sun, sandy white beaches, and great food,” Maria recalls. With four young children in tow, she moved to Florida in May 2003 and soon landed a job at Plantation Bay Rehabilitation Center and has been there ever since. Maria, a single mother, struggled to cope with balancing family and work. But she knew she had the strength, dedication, willpower, and determination to succeed at whatever life threw at her.

Maria loves spending time with residents that need the extra love and attention.

Maria’s Core Values are Compassion and Respect. She lives and breathes those values everyday.

“I’m proud to be a CNA and love what I do at Plantation Bay. Providing care to elderly residents is what I’m passionate about. Being here at the care center is like my second home,” Maria says.

“When I was in Puerto Rico in my teens, I watched how my family took care of my ailing grandfather and nursed him with such compassion, love, and respect. When I look back, that situation shaped my love for geriatric care,” Maria adds.

Providing compassionate and exemplary care is what makes Maria happy. “I have a resident who lost her sight due to a debilitating illness. I would visit her in her room and share stories about my second son who travels around the country as an out-of-state truck driver,” Maria adds.

Her personal touch and attention to detail has not gone unnoticed as one of her resident’s son praised Maria’s kindness and compassion towards his mother.

Maria wants to continue working as a CNA until she retires. While her four children have all grown up, her six grandchildren keep her busy. The occasional retail therapy, BBQs, and having a relaxing picnic by the beach is what she loves to do with her family.