With a husband and four children to look after, Maria Matia has a full life and a hectic schedule. We caught up with Maria at the Center one day while she was waiting to be hired as a housekeeper. A native of San Pedro Soloma, in the town of Huehuetenango, Guatemala, Maria has been in the United States for about a year. She acknowledges that she has a lot of catching up to do. Her children, Mateo, (6), Freddie (8), Andrea (13) and Alexander (17) are all students in Jupiter’s top-rated public schools. “I read to them every night. I read English picture books to them so that we can all learn English together,” says Maria. She finds the books among those donated to El Sol. Smart lady. Though Maria misses her sisters in San Pedro, she feels she is making a permanent home in Jupiter.
Maria’s husband of twenty years, Antonio Mateo, works a full-time job every day, and then hurries off to a part-time night job as a bartender at everyone’s favorite restaurant, Guanabana’s. Maybe you can say hello to him the next time you’re sitting at their tiki bar.
The Matia children are involved in soccer and track, so they’re finding it easy to make friends in a community where they knew nobody when they moved to Jupiter. Maria’s friends are mostly her neighbors and the women she meets at El Sol. “At El Sol, I can sit in a safe place in the air conditioning while I am waiting for work,” says Maria. And safety is always on Maria’s mind. She loves Jupiter because of its proximity to the beach and shopping, but she doesn’t like walking around at night. Some of the roads and alleyways are too dark, and she’s afraid for herself and her children. She avoids them when she can, but it’s not always possible.
“I chose Maria because she participates in many workshops, helps out in the kitchen, and volunteers her help whenever we need it. She’s a hard worker,” says Wilberto Luna, Labor Coordinator.
Maria doesn’t have time for hobbies, but she is waiting for a garden plot where she’s hoping to plant lavender, carrots, onions and assorted greens. Maybe she’ll consider planting some mint as well, so Antonio can use it the next time he makes you a Mojito.