WCCDA Narrative Series | Twenty
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My name is Romelia, and I live in White Center. I am a single parent with 2 children. I have been living in the Burien/ Whtie Center area for about 6-7 years. Through a program with DSHS, I got connected to the White Center CDA and was an administrative intern there for a couple of months in 2016. When Julia, the Administrative Manager, was on parental leave, I was contracted to support the CDA for another short amount of time. Though my work at the CDA was less than a year, it helped me connect to other community organizations and supported them with their events and programming. I helped KCHA and other organizations with their outreach efforts and worked at community events such as Music in the Plaza, Promise Celebration, etc. I went door-to-door to talk to families, distribute fliers and community surveys, help give away shoes and backpacks at events, etc. I enjoy speaking with people, so doing this type of community service work comes very easily for me. But I also love doing community work because I really like my community. I really like White Center.
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When I was 16, my dad petitioned and brought me from the Philippines to be with him here in the US. However, he was already remarried with other children, and so I ended up living with a family friend from our church instead. Though I did well in high school and graduated with honors – I am not sure how I did so well -- I could not continue my education and did not go to college. I had to start working to pay back my debt and make a living. My first job was at The Lighthouse for the Blind, making $7.50 an hour folding sleeping bags. Later, when I was working downtown at Old Navy, I took classes for the business administration program at South Seattle College. I worked at Swedish doing medical records for 5 years and then patient registration for another 5 years. But I was not able to finish my degree.
Still, I feel grateful to be where I am now, and feel grateful for this community. I don’t really have family here anymore besides my 2 children. My father passed away. My mother lives in Spain. My husband left me and my kids. When times get hard, I know my community will help me get through it. There was a time where we lost our housing, and my kids and I had to sleep in the car and stay with relatives and friends. We eventually were able to rent a 1-bedroom but then I had to deal with slumlords and live in conditions that were horrible. A friend told me to apply for housing. I did not think I would get it because I know some people who waited for many years for it. But I put my application in anyways, and I was so lucky to be selected by the lottery. When I received the news, I felt so blessed, I cried.
Besides the community, I also like White Center because it is conveniently close to everything I need. All the grocery stores are close by. My son goes to Cascade, and my daughter goes to White Center Heights. One walks to school and the other takes the bus to school. There are many programs and resources for my kids like the Boys and Girls Club and the Evergreen Pool. My kids and I enjoy walking, playing, and biking at the parks. One of the things they enjoy most is going to the pond and feeding the ducks.
One of my passions is massage therapy. When I am massaging someone, I am helping them relax and heal. But the process also calms and relaxes me as well while I stay in tune with my clients. I came across massage therapy because of an injury I had. When I was living in Renton, I was hit by a person and sustained an injury on my back. My massage therapist did a great job on my back, and she encouraged me to go into the field. I was pregnant with my daughter during that time, but I went back to school and completed my certification in 2013. I did my training at a chiropractic office at Highline Hospital. Now I have my own business. My business name is Rolax, which is a combination of my name and the word relax. If you search for Rolax, you will not be able to find my business online. Most of my clients are from the connections and relationships I have built over the years through word of mouth. I still work with clients from when I first started. To me, this work is so personal, therefore I rely on the community and people I trust. Over the years, I have provided services to so many of our community members at different events and organizations, such as the schools, WCFB, and the White Center CDA.
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I have been doing massage therapy for almost 10 years now. I still love it, but I know it is not something I can do forever. I have many business ideas and ventures I would like to explore in the future. I want to build a youtube channel. I want to teach couples massage to show people how to use massage to take care of each other. I am also interested in going to chiropractic school or working at a nonprofit to provide resources for children. Whatever the next steps are, I know I will be supported by the people in my community. I feel like I’m always loved in White Center no matter what.
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