I was the last girl to get picked on any sporting team most likely because of the stereotypical assumption that as a larger framed child I could not compete with those who were thinner. I was the last one asked out to the dance. I was the last one to have a boyfriend. I was the last one to get called by a boy. I was the last one to get someone to be my date/escort at prom. I was the last one to get called to do anything. I was never really part of the “cool” clique. I was last at everything. My self-esteem was at an all-time low in Junior High School. I will openly admit that I tried committing suicide many times. I didn’t die because I never drank enough pills. I secluded myself because I always felt that I was not good enough. I cut myself. I wrote mean things about myself in my diary. I didn’t have many friends that I wanted to be around because for me, I was not good enough to be seen. I wanted to die. I thought death would be the best outcome for me because for me at that time, no one really cared enough to want me. I never felt wanted and needed when it counted the most. I never felt connected to my circle of friends. Deep down I always felt something missing.
After growing out of that phase and going through life, I began the journey of connection, love and joy. Through my womanhood, exes, dating and supportive circle I was able to create the life I wanted. I began meeting people who accepted me for me. I met people who loved the idea of being around me. I believed I matter. During my undergraduate years I began to search for clubs and ways to connect with the world. Then I stumbled upon a flyer that said that there was an opportunity to be part of a siblinghood of people who stood for a greater good of the world. I searched their website immediately after the flyer and saw people on their site just like me. I saw differently cultures, shapes, ages, genders and smiles that warmed my heart. I knew that I had to take the initiative and join Theta Delta Sigma Society.
My interview process in 2009 was so wonderful. I laughed with two awesome gentlemen for about an hour and a half. We talked about life, humanity and where I saw myself down the road in life. I said that I wanted to start a non-profit organization that raised the self-esteem of women and young girls like me. I said that I wanted to be a powerful person who powerfully and lovingly influenced others. There was such joy and passion in my eyes. I remember that day like it was yesterday. After the summer of 2009, I was known as Sister Supernova, an explosion of a star and the largest explosion that takes place in space.
Throughout the years, I became the Vice President of Programming leading to partnerships with the Boys & Girls Club of Hempstead, New York. I led weekly community chapter initiatives with fresh, fun programming that allowed us to inspire the local youth. We even facilitated a carnival day with games, prizes and fun! There was a young child that gave me one of his prizes. He said, Miss Dee this is for you because I don’t have anything to give you and you are always so nice to me. That was one of the highlights of my career. Right then I knew that I was in the right place. I was in a place of giving and supporting communities across the world.
I was later elected President with a dynamic team of young women who supported our goals each day. I learned more about myself, my leadership skills and making mistakes. I will always cherish that time with those beautiful group of women. Wherever you in the world ladies know that I love you deeply no matter what for all you taught me. You ladies are amazing!
During our restructuring period I became the National Vice President of Finance. I was honored and thrilled to be in service and stand for change. Throughout my tenure we experienced financial growth and security. I formed new relationships in the community that recently led to lower expenditures. In addition, I have stood firm in my vision to support the organization’s mission which has led to an exciting time to be in Theta Delta Sigma.
This weekend, we had our annual Convention. It is a weekend of love, joy, fun and siblinghood. I was eager, anxious and excited to meet new members of the organization and see old friendly faces. It was amazing. At the end of our convention we hold an awards ceremony to highlight our outstanding members. This year was different for me.
As the awards are being given out, I am happy and of course cheering my fellow siblings on. Then as I am writing something down on paper I hear, “volunteer of the year goes to Sister Supernova.” At that time, I looked around and shouted “that’s me, that’s my name!” I have never had a more proud moment in my history as part of Theta Delta Sigma.
This year, I am the recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award by the transcendent siblings of Theta Delta Sigma Society Inc. I am so honored to have been bestowed this award. I want to thank Founder Jamel Catoe and my brother Nigel Moya for seeing the power in me back in 2009 that exists in me today. I also would like to thank Ismael Valentin and Helen White, my New York aces. I would like to extend gratitude to the founders for their vision that has led to 15 years of love, success and personal development. Lastly, I would like to say to any and all members of the society, the power is within us to heal the wounds of society. What we do and what we say is a direct reflection of how we show up in our society. Be the change you wish to see in the world as our beautiful Sister Cecilia Mejia often says. It is our time to shine. It is our time to create a win/win. We have all the power inside of us. Let’s be love and make magic happen. Thank you T.D.S. for acknowledging my hard work. You allowed me a place to raise from the ashes and live my dreams. I love you more than you ever know for giving me life and light.
With love and in siblinghood,
Dailisha Eve Rodriguez
I still hear him. I was his baby. Even though I am the youngest of 2, along with a slew of older cousins, some younger, I was his Baby.
I remember one of our first nights together when he moved in, after he was diagnosed. I went out with a couple of friends and he waited up til’ about 5am. When I walked in he said, I can go to sleep now…don’t forget, no matter how old you are, I’ll always be your DAD.
I can’t pin point one reason as to why my dad was chosen to cross over. Maybe heaven needed new high hats, baseboard heating, some maintenance….who knows? What I do know is my dad was a man of many traits. He was a carpenter, a mechanic, a plumber, construction worker, boiler man, blueprint constructor, housing inspector…but before all that, he was a DAD. He was the best dad, in my eyes the SUPERMAN of Dads.
I remember when I was in elementary school, my teacher would always ask why I was so tired. She didn’t believe me when I would tell her I was on a service call all night with my dad and after he took me to get breakfast at a local diner. I remember the look on her face when I told her; my dad taught me how to repair a cracked boiler with oatmeal. She thought I had a vivid imagination until one day in December, her boiler needed maintenance. I gave her one of my dad’s business cards and told her, he works 24 hours…again she looked at me like I has 5 heads.
Later that night, my dad came home and asked me to take a ride with him. 20 minutes later, we were at my teachers house. When we walked in she was shocked I was with him. She asked me if my homework was done and if I ate. I let her know all my homework was done and checked, and I ate dinner twice.
As me and my dad worked together I could see her smile; she admired the bond we shared. After that day she took a liking to me and was impressed with my ability to work through the night, make it to class and complete my work assignment all while fighting my sleep.
Things took a turn for the worst later this year. It was March, I was waiting for my dad to pick me up to take me home from my grandmother’s house. Around 10:00 PM I remember my aunt waking me up. She said your dad won’t be making it tonight, come upstairs and lets go to sleep. I cried, I couldn’t understand what was going on. My dad, leave me behind!! We have work to do!! Where is he?? Then my aunt uttered, Sam, your dad was involved in an accident. A boiler exploded on him, he’s in surgery right now but don’t worry mama, he’s going to be okay. He’s fighting for you. I couldn’t breathe….MY Superman was hurt.
Due to the extensity of his burns, I was not allowed to see him. I would talk to him every so often but I couldn’t see my dad. So for about a month, I made a promise to him, I would excel in school and when he came home, show him all my hard work. Two months passed and he came home. I wanted so much to lay down with him and watch American Gladiators but I couldn’t. My dad confided himself to a room. He was depressed, in pain and didn’t want to be seen. The burns covered 50% of his body…and no matter what I did there wasn’t much I could do. At this age, I just wanted my dad to be back to normal, but it took some time. Little by little my dad would let me into the room to help him with his burns. He didn’t want me to see his burns but I knew in my heart if I rubbed this aloe my grandmother sent me home with every day on his belly, one day he will get up and no longer be ashamed of these burns.
A year later, he was back at work and guess who was now old enough to ride shot gun in the car?? ME
I always felt like my purpose was to take care of my dad. When he was diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer, I told my family, he’s coming to live with me. I wanted to embark on this journey with him. I wanted to know his every move, every update, etc. For a year and 2 months, I, along with my family, watched our DAD put up a fight with Cancer.
It wasn’t easy. From Chemo, to radiation, to doctor’s appointments. I would wake up every two hours to check on him, we would stay up for hours and talk about everything. I miss that the most. I could talk to my dad about anything. He always loved to talk about LOVE and what his BABY deserved. One of our last conversations was about Love and how your partner is like a ball. He told me keep throwing that ball Sam, and if that same ball keeps coming back, then you know what to do. I said Dad, there’s this one ball I just want to throw and I don’t care if it comes back…he looked at me and said POP IT! There are a million balls out there, eventually the right ball will fall into your court and you will find your match. You are MY DAUGHTER, We have that gift!
My dad taught me soo many lessons, life hacks, and how to. I think I am the only girl I know that knows how to reset a boiler, fix a crack in a boiler with oatmeal and sweat a pipe. I value every minute we spent together. I promise myself that when I do decide to have children to make sure they learn how to work with their hands and talk like a salesman selling water to a well. I will forever treasure everything my father taught me and although his journey with cancer ended on July 27, 2016 at 4:20pm, his legacy will NEVER die.
My dad’s ability to work even throughout his treatments showed me how dedicated of a man he was. He always said NEVER STOP WORKING. He always pushed me and my sisters to be greater than what we already are. As he thinned out and the cancer took over, he still managed to keep a smile on his face and keep pushing. Even throughout his short stay in hospice, he made jokes and made all the nurses fall in love. My father was such a passionate man. He put his love for work and will to always want to provide before his health. He always wanted to make sure everyone around him had what they needed, no matter how bad he felt. My dad was your Modern day Superman….putting himself on the line to keep everyone safe and Happy.
I have been having a really rough time with him crossing over but a wise man told me, while his body is resting, his energy is always around. So don’t submit to the word DEATH, submit to the energy and the bond you and your father created. With that, he will FOREVER be with you. Spread the word wisely to everyone as well, take care of yourself! As this wise man recited this to me, all I though was….IS THIS A NEW BALL!
Thank you Dad. Thank you for all your support, advise, help, strength, personality but most of all…thank you for making me, YOUR BABY!
Samantha Lora Rodriguez,
Director of Community Outreach and Revitalization
I remember the time when I was five. I tell the story so often that most of you reading may even know it. I had just graduated kindergarten and I was on top of the world. I was so excited to get home. It was a warm and sunny day in June. My gifts were a tall cup filled with Pepsi and a slip and slide. A slip and slide is a toy that is a long sheet of thin plastic connected to any garden hose making it wet when you slide. You slide from one end until you reach the end. You do that until you are too tired or in my case, until you are injured.
That day, I was prepared. I was ready for my graduation gift to be set up in the yard. I waited anxiously. I was so excited when I heard my parents call me into the yard to play. I ran and I slid. Joy! I ran I slid. Happiness! Then I ran and slid my knee right through a nail. I was in so much pain. My father set up the slide as he did with all of things in our home. I was so mad. I screamed out to my mom “dad is trying to kill me”! Ever since that day, I really thought he was. I was mortified and refused medical treatment. I did not want to speak to my father. I did not want to see him. I was angry. My parents thought it was funny. I know they felt terrible about what happened. Now, at 32, I still have a beautiful scar on my knee from that day and an awesome story to tell people about that day. But there was more to it. Throughout the years, I learned that my father was not trying to kill me at all. That is when all the fun began.
Dad took me on trips to Six Flags Great Adventure Amusement Park, the movies, had barbecues and made life enjoyable every summer of our youth. He would take us on emergency heating calls late at night during the winter to ensure others had heat. He would get out of bed at 2:30 a.m. if anyone needed him. He rescued many of his family members from dangerous life threatening situations. He took in many of my cousins as his own. He always had a smile on his face. One summer he took all of the kids that lived on our grandmother’s block in Bushwick to Six Flags Amusement Park. He rented vans so family and friends could all attend together. He loved to drive and drive fast!
Dad often worked hard, long hours six to seven times a week. For that, I often resented him. He did not come to my plays in schools, dance recitals or band practice. I remember all he did and didn’t do. When my parents separated I didn’t think it would last. My parents have known each other over forty years. I could never imagine them living without each other. I was so upset when dad left because he abandoned our family. It was unthinkable. It was not real to me. I did not speak to dad for about five years. I often wondered where he was. What he was doing. Who he was with and where he was staying. And why didn’t he love us anymore. It was a difficult time in my twenties with him not being around.
My father and I finally reconciled after long talks, hugs and a lot of understanding. It was a wonderful feeling to have him back in our lives. He was doing his very best to maintain his relationships through calls. It was back to the fun again with him. We had fun times and began to hang out again often. Then he started getting sick. The illness was taking over as each day passed. In May of 2015, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer.
My sisters and I became his primary caregivers. My younger sister, Samantha took him in providing food, comfort and support. I handled his day to day activity including phone calls, doctor appointments, transportation and any other thing he would call for. Our wonderful cousin Daisy took time off of work and her social obligations to care for, provide and comfort him. Daisy was part of his late night calls and lifted him up when there was no one around. Daisy ensured proper care was taken of him by the nursing staff in every facility he was in. She played an integral part in his care, daily needs and spiritual support. Mervin, her husband, was there as well always providing a shoulder to lean on. My sister Alisha would cook, call and took extraordinary care of him during his last days of life. I am so eternally grateful and proud of their demeanor while he was battling his disease.
A few weeks ago, I could not attend a follow up appointment dad had. However, I wanted to be there to support. I asked dad to leave me on speakerphone while the doctor was talking to him. I didn’t hear much but I did feel it. I told my dad I could not hear. He said he would call me back but I refused to hang up the phone. Next, I heard tears and felt pain. I knew it was not good news. My father’s doctor told him he has weeks to live. We were all devastated.
The next few weeks he was in the hospital and then transferred to hospice. Every day he fought. I remember speaking to him one day asking him how he was. He said “I have PMA, Positive Mental Attitude and that is all I can do. I have to live with this diagnosis and the cards life had dealt me with but I have to be positive.” He was and will always be Superman to us. Our hero!
Listening to the way in which he handled himself, the love he continued to give and the way in which he kept fighting to live made me realize how lucky I was to have him in my life. As he was fighting for his life, he continued to teach me lessons on how to survive, how to be strong, how to persevere and how to be a hero. I was so honored to be his daughter. I vowed to remain gracious and dignified during his last days as he would have wanted me to be. My dad’s last breath was on 7/27 at 4:20 PM.
I remember the night before I had a meeting to introduce Hey There Beautiful to potential Board members. I rented a conference room to maintain a professional decorum. I catered lunch. I emptied out part of my stock options with my current employer to make it happen. I drafted a PowerPoint presentation, began the process of our by-laws, created manuals for Hey There Beautiful, wrote our an operational guide, did research, made phone calls and really put everything together as best as I could. I still did not feel like it was enough. I then called dad crying in the parking lot of a Walgreens. I said dad, what advice would you give to someone who unsure about themselves. He chuckled because he knew I needed advice. He said “leave it all on the table. Don’t hold back and you got this. I have worked all my life for you to chase your dreams. I put businesses on hold for you girls. I worked so you girls could have. Now it is your turn. If I know anything at all, I know that you got this and you don’t need me to tell you that but I will. You are my daughter and because of that you are destined to do great things. You are made for this. You are built for this. You don’t need me to tell you that. I know you know that. I know that you know you can do this. I love you. You will never know how much I love you” I. I remember calling him the next day to tell him we were launching HTB! He was excited.
Without reconciliation, acceptance, encouragement, understanding, faith, support and love Hey There Beautiful Inc. would not be possible. My father’s pep talk encouraged me to move forward, be strong and believe in my intuition. I am so proud to be his daughter to carry out his legacy lighting the planet with the love he gave to me. I will always carry his courage, strength and love in my heart. Times when I don’t want to get up in the morning, when I feel discouraged or pained, I often think of times he was able to get out of bed after chemotherapy to just walk around. I remember how badly he wanted to do the simple things and live. For that I am forever grateful to be able continue to run Hey There Beautiful Inc. into the world of limitless possibilities of restoring communities, making new relationships and empowering the world to live their dreams. To you from the bottom of our hearts I say, dad I love you, I will miss you and thank you for carrying a torch so enormous I can now use your light to give light and hope to others who are in need of what you have given me, LOVE.
You will be missed and never forgotten! We love you dad!
Gracefully and beautifully inspired,
PS- Thank you to all those that took care of him, donated, loved, called and supported us during this time. There are so many people to thank and know that you are the reason I continue to move forward. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post. I want to share with you a little bit of my story. My name is Angelique St. Aude, more affectionately called Angie. I am the Director of Programming for Hey There Beautiful Inc. As I sit on the LIRR on my way to a workshop sponsored by my job to learn how to maximize my potential, I can’t help but reflect on my journey to HTB.
I joined HTB for a few reasons, the first reason is because of Dee. She is our president and founder, but most importantly, she is my best friend and I believe and support her. I have known Dee for a long time and this is what she was meant to do. I love that I am to be able to help and support her dream. The second reason is because I also believe in our mission wholeheartedly.
I grew up with very strong queens as my inspiration, my mother, aunts, cousins, and grandmother. They were and still are very powerful in their own right. As a people, Haitians are resilient. I grew up being taught that I am powerful and all I have to do was believe it.
Believing was the hardest part, the hardest journey I faced growing up. I never talked about my struggles with my self-confidence, self-doubt, self-worth, and my struggles with being bullied. I thought it was just something that I had to go through, a punishment of sorts. I felt that I was alone in this battle and something was wrong with me for feeling like this. I felt as though this was my problem alone to handle. I chose to walk that journey alone because I didn’t know any better at that time. As an adult, when I was approached with this opportunity, I could not say no. I don’t want someone else facing the same journey I did, and feel like they have to walk it alone, especially when they never have to. That’s what HTB is here for, we are here to let you know that you are not alone and never will be. I want everyone to realize how powerful of a being you are, not because I am telling you so, but because you believe it to be so.
See you at the next workshop! Don’t forget, your never alone in this journey called life, HTB has got your back!
Stay Beautifully You!
Hello Queens and Kings! Welcome to the official blog of Hey There Beautiful Inc! My name is Dailisha Eve Rodriguez. I am the president and founder of Hey There Beautiful. Everyone calls me Dee. I am so happy that you made it to our website, let alone our blog! I am so excited to share details about my life, the organization, my journey, funny stories and of course the lives of our awesome Board of Directors. Throughout the month, the Board will be introducing themselves, telling you details of their lives and reasons why they serve. They may even share a recipe, advice or a joke. We don't know what the future holds, but it will sure be a fun read.
When my grandmother passed away in October of 2014 I was at a loss. I could not believe she was gone. I could not believe that she was not going to be around. She raised me. She took me to school. She sewed my school uniforms. She taught me the right and wrongs of life. She taught me how to be strong. She taught me to work hard. She instilled in me how to be a lady. When she passed, I was devastated. I wanted to talk to her again. I wanted to hear her gentle voice. I wanted to hold her hands. I wanted to take her out. I wanted to do all the things that I could no longer do. But it was too late. Her funeral and the time thereafter was a whirlwind. Everything went by so quickly. The outpouring of love was incredible. Seeing family and connecting with them was great. I was able to say a few words about her. I wanted people to remember her passion, strength, love and fire. She was so warm yet filled with so much spunk. There was no one who could come close to her love. After her casket was being dropped to the ground, I felt like part of me died with her as well. There are no words to describe that agony and void in my heart. I was lost. I was confused. I was in a panic.
A few months later, I had an epiphany. I wrote a long email to my boyfriend expressing that I was currently not fulfilled in life. I asked him for advice. He finally got around to having me admit that I wanted to start doing what I love, I dug deep inside of my soul and felt compelled to leave a legacy for my grandmother. He fully supported me. That was inspiring. A few weeks later, I invited a few friends to my house for a "women's circle" as I called it. Five of my closest friends showed up. I then broke the news that I was starting a nonprofit organization to inspire and empower women. Many of them were eager and excited to join me on this journey.
In March of 2015, I began working diligently, day and night, to gather information and research on how to start a non profit. I read a little article of the top 9 reasons nonprofits fail. I began to work on those items first building a team of dynamic women. We had our first official meeting in March of 2015. Everyone was on the same page. I saw the magic began to happen. It was great. In April of 2015, we were then incorporated in the State of New York. It was the most amazing feeling that I felt when I read online that our documents were accepted by the state of New York. I felt that I did something amazing. Ever since then we have simply continued to work hard to make Hey There Beautiful Inc. the vision that we dreamed of.
So now, let me briefly introduce you to the Board. I feel like I am having a "dear diary moment". Angie is the Director of Programming and one of the most genuinely sincere individuals I have ever met. She exudes confidence. Love radiates from her face. It could also be her amazing facial cream. Samantha is my sister. She is such a fireball of energy and does not take no for an answer. I know this because we were raised together and after so many times of me taking her snacks, she had enough. She is tough as nails and I am so happy that she is here to inspire the youth. Maria is a friend from high school. I don't want to say how long I have known her because it will release my age. Okay, 17 years. Whew! Where did time go? Maria has a big heart and through her journey is finding her voice to inspire mothers in all capacities. She is a star. Kim is the director of marketing and research. I met her through Angie. When she first came on board, she was very unsure asking a lot of questions. I told her that I am unsure as well and we are in this together. Kim and I have bonded in a matter of months. She is my right hand. She has two kids and a wonderful husband that we are indebted to because we take all her time. Thanks Steve, we love you more than you know! Lastly, there is Stacey. Stacey is quiet, shy and reserved but the sweetest person on the planet. She would not hurt a soul. She is the VP of finance and her passion keeps me going. So there you have the squad!
We are working really hard to make 2016 fun, new, fresh and dynamic. We are stepping up our game, walking out of our comfort zone and embracing the vision each day. We all love what we do. We do it with passion, fire and fun. What is life if there is no fun! We hope that you enjoy our website, blog and other social media outlets.
This post is dedicated to the beautiful Board of Directors Kim, Angie, Samantha, Stacey and Maria, my hard working aunt Ms. Z, and of course my wonderful grandmother, Yiya. Without each of you leaving footprints in my heart, this organization would not be possible. I miss you grandma and will stand firm in my convictions to leave the legacy that you would have loved to see flourish. You are always in my heart. It is because of your dedication to the service of others that has inspired me to dream bigger, live stronger and work harder than ever. I am personally dedicated to work hard for the mission and vision of Hey There Beautiful Inc. We started in Bushwick, Brooklyn but I know that this dream will not be boxed in. The dream to empower women, young girls, the youth and people across the world runs deep in my heart. Our vision will span many lifetimes, open closed hearts, touch many lives and inspire others to live their dreams as well. I hope that in some way, we can inspire you as well! Think big, don't let fear get in the way and always know that YOU have all the tools to make your dreams come true!
Thanks for reading and feel free to leave comments below!
Stay Beautifully Inspired,