Martina Rocha: A Best Friend to the Community and its Children

December 20, 2018

Published by CounciLINK on December 20, 2018

martina-rochaRecently, the Together for Childhood Network in Round Lake, IL, held a grand, bilingual celebration. The reason for the gala was to recognize graduates of the Network’s Child Development Associate (CDA®) program. There were Mexican singers, a band, folk dancing and prominent speakers such as Dr. Valora Washington, CEO of the Council for Professional Recognition. About 400 people attended, including Martina Rocha who founded the Together for Childhood Network to train early childhood education providers and help them succeed.

Rocha’s own success story shows the value of persistence and passion for your work. A native of Mexico, she came to the U.S. in the early ’90s with little knowledge of English and less knowledge about how to open a child-care center. It was hard for her to find information in Spanish on how to get a license. And when she did start her business in 2004, she lost money at first because she was too busy caring for the children to handle the business end of her work. Yet she managed to climb the ladder of success and her Best Friends Day Care took off.

Five years later, she decided to help other immigrants who struggle with the same challenges she’d faced. So she started a support group where child-care providers could learn about new industry topics in Spanish. The initial gathering of 14 people that began in her tiny basement has become a state-approved nonprofit with 248 members and monthly meetings. The program now offers CPR and first-aid classes, as well as preparation for the CDA credential.

“We have teachers to provide candidates with training,” Rocha said. “We help them complete their portfolios and send their applications to the Council in DC. When they get their credential we hold a ceremony to mark their achievement.”

And in the course of 10 years, she has trained 300 CDAs with support from the Council, an organization she holds in high esteem.

“I started as a Professional Development Specialist with the Council 10 years ago,” Rocha said, “and they do great work. Everyone at the Council is very professional and they’re always there to answer any questions from our candidates and give them any assistance they need.”

The Network gets support from the community at fundraising events that enhance services for hundreds of children, along with their family members. The Network also gives back to the families of Round Lake by providing a number of free programs: literacy, handicraft workshops, performances and game night.

“I’m very involved in the community,” Rocha said, “and if something isn’t right I try to fix it.”

So in addition to running her child care and her nonprofit, she also hosts a regular fundraiser to help families in Mexico who can’t afford to buy food. The fundraiser is called Ayudame a Ayudar, which translates to “Help me Help.”

Rocha keeps looking for new ways to help despite an exhausting schedule.

“I do it,” she said, “because I care about the children. They are the future and we want to build better communities for them.”

Round Lake’s children and families know they can count on her for support, and that’s a great reason to celebrate.


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