Meet Your Neighbors, Chicago: The Rodriguez Household

Meet Your Neighbors, Chicago: The Rodriguez Household

Chicago, it’s time to satisfy your neighbors.

For the primary installment of our new collection, we’d prefer to introduce you to the South Aspect Rodriguez household, who’ve run a neighborhood meals pantry out of their East Aspect storage with little greater than their very own arms for greater than 4 a long time.

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That reality alone was sufficient to get us involved in their story, however as we talked exterior their pantry storage and day changed into evening, we discovered in regards to the spirit of inclusivity, service and love that spurred the meals pantry’s creation. All of it started when Lolly Rodriguez, who’s hearing-impaired, met her future husband within the late Nineteen Seventies.

“I used to be speaking to a man that lived within the subsequent parish, and we form of knew one another, and Bob is available in, he stated, ‘Hey Bob, I would like you to satisfy any individual,’” remembers Rodriguez. “He comes as much as me and he seems to be at me and says, ‘I’m going to marry you.’ Afterward, I requested him, ‘Why did you’re feeling that manner?’ And he stated, ‘I had dream that one thing vital was going to occur to me after I walked in right here.’”

His premonition proved true. Bob and Lolly married and moved to their East Aspect house in 1979. The next 12 months, when job cuts at close by factories created super want of their new neighborhood, Rodriguez says they felt compelled to assist, as a result of “we each knew what it was to go with out.”

As they started placing down roots of their neighborhood, the Rodriguezes additionally started rising their household – ultimately to 17 youngsters, together with 9 adopted youngsters and two everlasting foster youngsters.

“They bought me after I was 6, occurring 7,” stated son Van Rodriguez. “I bear in mind on a regular basis doing the meals pantry, assist stocking cabinets, unloading the meals vans.”

Anastasia Villalobos joined the household when she was 14. “Residing of their home, you had been by no means alone,” she stated. “The door was by no means locked. … We all the time had brothers and sisters to play with. Once we wanted one thing, they had been there. I’m completely blessed to be with Lolly.”

The Rodriguez household misplaced Bob in 2002, however Lolly has saved the pantry going to assist anybody who wants it.

“If they arrive right here prepared for meals, we’ll give it to them,” says son Kevin Rodriguez. “That’s all the time been one of many issues individuals preferred about … my mom and my father’s meals pantry, is that they didn’t discriminate and they didn’t flip down individuals for lack of awareness. … They only took care of them.”

Forty years after it started, operating the pantry continues to be a household affair.

“We’ve all the time helped out within the pantry, after which it impressed our youngsters to need to assist out due to [Lolly]. We simply do what she does,” stated Villalobos.

Over time, the Rodriguez household has helped feed lots of of households – and so they say it’s not unusual for among the individuals they’ve helped previously to return the favor once they’re capable of.

“I used to be working at a restaurant on the North Aspect and I used to be taking the trains and busses house and in the future I missed my bus so I took an Uber from the prepare station,” stated Kevin Rodriguez. “As she pulled in, she stated, ‘I used to come back right here on a regular basis for meals.’ I stated, ‘Actually?’ And she or he says, ‘I can’t imagine you’re Lolly’s son, I do know precisely who you might be.’ And I bear in mind the very subsequent day (Lolly) bought a donation from that individual.”

Extra on this story

For extra details about the Rodriguez household meals pantry or to make a donation, contact Lolly Rodriguez at 773-504-5306 or Van Rodriguez at 773-412-7545.

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