Efrain Santos Rodriguez
I was born in Caguas, Puerto Rico on January of 1974. My mother Carmen Rodríguez and my father Marcelo Santos were born and raised in Puerto Rico. I was raised in Puerto Rico as well by them and also by my grandmother Gregoria Reyes who has been an inspiration in my life. I came from a very humble family. We all had to work very hard to obtain everything we needed for living.
At the age of five years old, I moved from the city of Caguas to the city of Cidra. We lacked from some necessary utilities like water and electricity and even food. My mother decided to move to the USA trying to have a better life for all of us. When I was seven years old, we moved to New York City.
It was in New York City where one of my school's teachers asked all of the students to make a project and paint "what do you want to be in the future". I decided to paint a woman with her eyes closed. She was dreaming and at that time that woman represented my mother. At that moment I decided and I knew in my mind that I wanted to be an artist.
When I showed my teacher what I painted, she asked me in front of everyone if I wanted to be a woman!! I felt embarrassed and I looked at her very seriously. I told her "No, I want to be an artist".
Since that time I started drawing and painting and I haven't stopped!
I never had the opportunity to attend to an Art School because of my financial situation. However that was not an obstacle for me to continue learning. That was not an obstacle either for following my dreams.At the age 27 i move from Puerto Rico to Camden New Jersey.
During all these years there have been so many people who inspired and motivated me to continue and learn that you are your own competition. Especially, Mrs. Patricia Ándres who trusted and believed in me. She placed her only and beloved son Damian Ándres in my hands. Damian has the condition of Muscular Dystrophy. I started taking care of him. My plan was also to help him reach his goals, not knowing that it was him who was giving me a life lesson. He was showing me that dreams come true for those who work hard and never give up. He showed me that there are not limitations!
I also have to mention how blessed and fortunate I am at my current job. I started working at LIFE at Lourdes, a medical program with all inclusive for the elderly in 2014. Within two years of my employment I was promoted to Lead Life Specialist and then made a shift to the nutrition department. I operate the kitchen with efficiency utilizing my creative culinary skills and I am a master chef in our state of the art kitchen.
At LIFE at Lourdes I facilitate an art class with our participants and help them reflect their feelings through the art of painting. The group meets twice monthly and with my instruction, they are expressing themselves in ways they never thought possible. There are not enough words to express the satisfaction that I have with this part of my job. This is my passion and the fact that they enjoy and love what they are doing is wonderful.
Also Lourdes Health System sponsors a T-shirt contest honoring Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I won 1st prize this year and was a runner up in 2015. I am very blessed that my work is admired by many and recognized in the community. I am very proud of what I do.
I live eternally thankful to God, to my good friends, family and to my housban Frank Rubio who have always been there for me and have filled my life with emotional stability while allowing me to continue developing my art and talent in an atmosphere full of peace.
I am also thankful to all my coworkers from LIFE at Lourdes especially to Sister Marge Sullivan, Kathy Licardo and Mireya Llaurador for always believing in me and their unconditional support.