For Rosalinda Rivera, helping others is in the genes. As executive director of the nonprofit New Life For Youth, she's taken over where founders Victor and Carmen Torres, her parents, left off.
A graduate of Monican High School, “Rosa” owned three retail businesses by the time she was 21 and put herself through college. “When I got out, my parents said, ‘You belong back here,'” she recalls. “I think they were right.”
Rivera has taken a successful businesslike approach to the family business — New Life has opened a thrift store, a car wash and a lawn maintenance service, among other ventures, and every dime goes back into the organization's mission to help people with drug addiction problems through a four-phase Christian growth program.
“By the time they get to us,” Rivera says of the thousands who have gone through New Life's Men's Ranch and its female companion, the Mercy House, “their lives are completely destroyed and all hope is lost. … We're the hospital at the end of the cliff.”
Her outreach doesn't stop with New Life For Youth. This mother of three helped to organize the late Sgt. Santa's toy drive for children in Richmond housing projects, enlisted donations from local grocers for a mass spaghetti dinner for the displaced after Hurricane Isabel, and responded to the Katrina disaster by finding a private plane to send much-needed supplies to New Orleans. But she does set aside all of her tireless charity work once a week, she says: “Monday. That's mommy day.”