The Caring Force Blog November 2021 Workforce Hero: Noelia Martinez

| Caroline O'Neill

The Caring Force is pleased to announce that our November TCF Hero Spotlight honoree is Noelia Martinez, an Executive Assistant and the Human Rights Officer for CENTRO. Prior to being an assistant, she worked in Administration and Quality Assurance for the AFC program.  She is a state-certified Human Rights Officer, provides support to CENTRO’s Chief Operating Officer with investigations when necessary and works hard to support the Food Pantry and Family Support Center teams, as they care for the over 8,700 families CENTRO serves annually.

I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but my parents are from the Dominican Republic. When I was very young, my father was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As the disease progressed and my father’s health deteriorated, my mother, who was a nurse at the time, decided to relocate us to Massachusetts to give my father a better quality of life. We had to leave everything and everyone we knew behind and start a new life from scratch. The reason why I decided to pursue a career in human services is based on this story. The community welcomed us with open arms, ready to provide resources to help us adjust to the place we now call home.

1. Tell us about your background. How did you decide to pursue a career in human services? 

I went on to pursue a degree in International Development & Social Change from Clark University and another one in Spanish. My goals are to continue serving others through my work and give back to the community that opened doors to my family when we needed it most.

2. What is your favorite professional memory? 

Every year, CENTRO’s food pantry distributes turkeys and baskets filled with ingredients for a Thanksgiving dinner to hundreds of low-income families. One of my favorite professional memories happened during last year’s distribution event. It was a windy day with freezing temperatures, and despite that, I saw how our team came together to respond to the growing needs of a community gravely affected by the pandemic. We worked outside distributing the food items all day long to maintain social distancing requirements, alternating shifts every so often due to the cold weather conditions. That day, we distributed Thanksgiving baskets and turkeys to 547 families.

This is one of my fondest memories because even though the weather made it difficult to work for too long outside, that day, I witnessed willingness, selflessness and commitment from every person who volunteered to help us make that distribution possible.

3. The pandemic has been ongoing for more than a year. How have you coped with its challenges? 

I have developed the habit of practicing gratitude every day. It is easy to dwell on the negative things in stressful and challenging times while at the same time ignoring the positive. Practicing gratitude allows me to see the big picture and keep a positive attitude despite whatever is going on. I also take some time to go on walks or hikes with family and friends; I get to have great conversations and catch up with them while enjoying nature.

4. This question is from our October 2021 Workforce Hero, Amanda Townson: What advice would you give to your younger self? 

I would tell my younger self to remain focused and to continue doing things at my own pace.

5. Do you have a question for the next person we spotlight? 

What is the best professional advice someone has given you?

Thank you so much to Noelia and all of our wonderful human services workers who bring joy and passion to work every day! We are so thankful for your efforts and for making the Commonwealth a better place.

Back to All Blog Posts