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Immigrant Heritage Month Story: Andrea De la Roca

Posted 06/23/21 by Mely Arribas-Douglas

Immigrant Heritage Month gives people across the United States an opportunity to annually explore our country's heritage and celebrate the shared diversity that forms the unique story of America.

The letter below is a part of a series that brings to life stories from our immigrant, refugee, and diverse community members who call Toledo and Lucas County, home. We celebrate their contributions, especially this Immigrant Heritage Month; an annual celebration of our nation’s shared immigrant heritage and cultural diversity.

Immigrant Heritage Month stories are a project of Welcome Toledo-Lucas County, a local initiative housed in the Toledo Lucas County Public Library; in partnership with the Board of Lucas County Commissioners and LISC Toledo; to advance an inclusive and global community.

We are glad to share stories showing the way our diverse local communities enrich our daily lives.

It's time to #CelebrateImmigrants!

My name is Andrea De la Roca. My children and I moved to Toledo 6 years ago. I have two sons and a daughter. Anthony and Alexander are both students at St. John’s Jesuit High School and Academy, and Aissa is in middle school at St. Ursula Academy. I am the oldest of three sisters. My parents live in Napoleon, Ohio, where my Dad works for Campbell’s Soup. My younger sister Adriana lives in Cleveland Heights with her husband, Francisco, and their two children. She is a nurse at the Cleveland Clinic. My middle sister returned to Guatemala after graduating from Napoleon High School. She lives in Guatemala City with her two children. 

 I work for the Catholic Diocese of Toledo as the Coordinator of Intercultural Ministries. The Intercultural Ministries include serving and working with Black Catholics, Hispanic Catholics and Persons with Disabilities. I seek to strengthen the unity of the Body of Christ while honoring and celebrating the cultural richness and strong faith of the members of the communities that I serve. I am grateful for the opportunity to work with and advocate for these three populations. 

 My father and I immigrated to the United States on July 4, 2001. My aunt and her husband helped us move to Napoleon, Ohio from Guatemala City. My immigration journey, like so many other people, has being challenging and rewarding. Leaving my family, friends and community was difficult. In the last 20 years, I have learned that immigrants need to have a supportive community. I was able to survive domestic violence, provide a good living for my children, purchase my first home, gain citizenship, and obtain my bachelor’s degree—thanks to the support of my family, friends, and community. God placed people in my life who wanted to contribute to my well-being.

I decided to stay in Northwest Ohio because this area has many professional and personal opportunities. We have opportunities to drive, fly, or travel by train to big metropolitan areas, such as Columbus or Chicago. My favorite city in NW Ohio is Toledo. I totally agree with the slogan “You Will Do Better in Toledo.”  I love this community!  My children are flourishing here; I have found new friends and professional opportunities. The people in Toledo are welcoming, generous and caring. Some of my favorite places to visit are the Toledo Art Museum and the Toledo Public Libraries. My boyfriend, Omar, and I enjoy spending our free time at the different Metroparks. These attractions make Toledo a great place for anyone!


About the Immigrant Heritage Month Storyteller Series

This project was led by Betsy Rose Ujvagi, Welcome TLC steering committee member and our very first Immigrant Heritage Month story teller.

About Immigrant Heritage Month

Immigrant Heritage Month (IHM) is a nationwide celebration of immigration held each June. IHM is powered by FWD.us and is part of an ongoing effort to empower immigrants and allies to share stories and drive action that demonstrate how immigration is good for our communities, economy, and country. IHM also provides new avenues for individuals and organizations to support immigrants in their communities and workplaces during June and throughout the year. For more information, visit iamanimmigrant.com.

About Welcome Toledo-Lucas County

Welcome Toledo-Lucas County (TLC), launched in 2014, is a cross-sector network of community partners advancing an inclusive and global Toledo-Lucas County. Housed at the Toledo Lucas County Public Library, and in partnership with the Lucas County Board of Commissioners and LISC Toledo, Welcome TLC is governed by a steering committee of government, community, and business leaders, including immigrants, refugees, and people of diverse cultures.

In April 2019, Lucas County, led by the leadership of Welcome TLC, achieved the national designation as a Certified Welcoming community, becoming the second county in the country and second community in the state to receive the designation.