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Editor's Note: In a departure from our usual business topics we present the story of Gladys Rodriguez and her husband Bob, their journey to American citizenship and their involvement with the Semper Fi Fund. Gladys is a former HR manager at PBI who left us to be closer to her Annapolis home. We hope you enjoy their story as much as we did.
Bob and Gladys came from Cuba in October of 1970, after spending 8 years of hell under Castro and three years of uncertainty in Chile. Bob worked at night and studied during the day to complete the Engineering degree that he had started in Cuba and had abandoned after Castro took over. Gladys worked as a Secretary, looking for every opportunity to work overtime so they could fulfill their dream of purchasing a home for their family. Their dream came true only four years later. Bob obtained his BS degree five years after he started pursuing it, and also obtained a Masters Degree in Management Technology later on. They became proud US Citizens on July 4th, 1976 as part of the Bicentennial ceremonies at Ft. McHenry, in Baltimore, Md.
“It is impossible to describe the pride, love and gratitude we feel for being a part of this nation”, Gladys says. They always wanted to give back to their new country, and in 2004 they found their inspiration. Through their daughter-in-law they heard about a Marine who was injured in the war in Iraq. During their visit with him, his wife told them about an organization that helped them immensely through their challenging time….the Semper Fi Fund. Bob and Gladys started making small donations to the fund, then she asked the owner of the company she worked for if she could do yearly fundraisers at their garden center. Even though she is now retired, she still organizes them every year in May.
In 2009, Gladys approached some Marines’ family members about the idea of creating a cookbook with recipes provided by Marines friends and families. They immediately spread the word and before long, the cookbook became a reality and was published in July of that year. To date, the cookbook has raised over $57,000. A new cookbook is currently in production and should be available in April.
“Our family can never repay this country for everything they have helped us achieve. Bob and I want to show our appreciation by giving back in every way that we can”, says Gladys. Even though they do not have any connection to the military, they send packages to the troops every month, visit Walter Reed National Military Hospital regularly to serve lunch to the wounded and their families, and do not miss any opportunity to show their support and gratitude for being Americans.
When asked why they are so involved with the Marines, her answer is always the same: “….. we don’t know; it’s like falling in love. We don’t know why it happened, but we have fallen in love with the entire Marine Corps family and our military, and will continue to support them for the rest of our lives.”