Maria Rodriguez with Newport Mayor Bova Lola Herrera, Evelin Perez, Namgyal Gyaltshen, Marianne Larned

Maria Rodriguez Registers to Vote
On October 4, Maria attended U.S. Senator Whitehouse's Energy, Environmental and Ocean Leaders Day. She was inspired by keynote speaker Reverend Lennox Yearwood Jr. speech: Climate Change a Civil Rights Issue. He spoke about those affected by climate change, like Puerto Rican's Hurricane Maria. He also shared stories of how young people like Greta Thunberg were challenging leaders to take action. Rev. Yearwood Jr. emphasized the importance of voting. He encouraged everyone, especially young people to register to vote. At this prestigious conference, Maria was sitting in the very front. She felt he was talking right to her.  Maria decided right then and there that she was going to register to vote.  A few weeks later, on October 25, she did.

I just registered to vote.
It was such a special day for me.
My inspiration to take this step
was what happened to Puerto Rico.
I survived the devastating Hurricane Maria. 

Then in the summer of 2019, 900 pages of a private chat between the Governor and other leaders came to light. They were making homophobic and derogatory comments towards women. There was evidence of corruption - they had stolen funds to help rebuild our country.  That really hurt me. The Governor crossed a line. He doesn’t represent my Puerto Rican community. I was so proud of all the young people in Puerto Rico who organized massive peaceful protests for 12 days until the Governor finally resigned.

What I learned from this experience is that we have the power to change what is wrong.
Every vote counts so please go get registered to vote.
Your vote can make all the difference.

Maria Rodriguez

New York Times , 11/1/19

Celebrating Maria Rodriguez & Evelin Perez
The Chanler Hotel • October 25, 2019
Stone Soup Leadership Institute