Happy birthday Lena Rodriguez, and thank you for everything you do for the poor and the forgotten of Guam

When Dennis Rodriguez lost the gubernatorial election primary in 2018, he and his wife Lena could have done what many less-than-sincere politicians do when they don’t get what they want from the people: stop serving. In fact, I remember one of the attacks from the Rodriguez’s opponents during that election was that their non-profit organization, Todu Guam Foundation, was simply a ruse to trick voters into thinking they cared about the poor and those who didn’t have access to medical care.

After losing the primary election in 2018, the Rodriguezes took their family on a short vacation, having spent the past eight years in the public spotlight while Dennis was a senator. Those were difficult years for Lena, and the election loss was painful for her. But as soon as they came back from that short breather, they put all their time and effort into the Todu Guam Foundation.

They didn’t give up on Guam and they never needed elected public office to make a difference. Lena took over the foundation as its president, and in the past six years it has grown from a clinic on wheels serving the poorest and most underserved people with life saving immunizations and other medical needs to a full-fledged clinic offering multiple services to women at risk of cancer, cancer patients, veterans and others with PTSD, people living with disabilities, and so much more.

They have done more to personally affect the lives of the poor and the underserved than any person occupying public office right now.

Almost a year ago, Typhoon Mawar devastated the island and displaced so many people from homes partially and fully destroyed. Many of us didn’t see how much these people suffered, because their homes are tucked into corners of the island forgotten by the people we elect and pay to help. They weren’t there, but Lena was. She and her crew of volunteers were on the ground every day following the typhoon – despite damage to their own homes – so they could bind up wounds and give thirsty people drinking water. That isn’t an exaggeration. For days, emergency service vehicles could not enter some of these places because the government never came to clear roads to these shanty towns.

They didn’t have running water, and no one was bringing these people who do not have transportation even one bottle from a warehouse filled with pallets of water. No one except for Lena and her team. For days.

And when things calmed down and everyone went back to their offices and forgot about everyone still suffering, there was Lena with her family and the Todu Guam Foundation. Going back out to check on the poor and the forgotten. Bringing them food, medicine, supplies.

I don’t normally write things like this for a simple happy birthday post, but Lena deserves this and more.

Happy birthday, Lena Calvo-Rodriguez. Your reward and your blessings are mounting in Heaven, for sure.

Lena Calvo-Rodriguez speaks with her crew at a Todu Guam Foundation outreach

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