SOUTH TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Las Abuelitas after-school program aims to help children from low-income families in the city of South Tucson.
Victor Rodriguez is the coordinator of the program and while it is a job for him, it means much more than that.
"I was seeing my story in their eyes," Victor said.
When Victor was young, his mother, Alba, made the decision to take her three children ages five, four, and three from Mexico to the United States. Alba was fleeing an abusive relationship when she came here at 22-years-old.
"I had to help them," she said in Spanish.
Today, the family considers themselves one of the lucky ones.
"My mom always tells us we are a very lucky family and blessed by God," Victor said. "She's always telling that to us because many families come with the same mindset of an American dream, but many can't make it."
When they arrived into the United States as undocumented immigrants, they faced many financial struggles.
"She worked by selling tamales, she worked at a retail store as an illegal individual," Dulce Rodriguez, the oldest of the group, said. "I mean she did a lot and that money went to utilities and rent."
They looked for help finding food in the community, but with time are building their own American dream
"I was happy because it was my dream," their mother said about all three of her children going to college. The children are also all citizens of the United States as well.
Now, they are looking to pay the help they received along the way forward. The family frequently volunteers with Las Abuelitas and looks to help the children and serve as role models for them.