A 20-year-old who should be attending college, concentrating on making her career or having a fun time with her friends is spending her life raising her siblings.
Samantha Rodriguez is the oldest of the six siblings Destiny, 7, Bella, 9, Michael, 12, Brenda, 14, and Milagros, 16. Instead of being an elder sister, she is playing the role of mom and dad of her siblings.❤
The Rodriguez family lost their parents as their mom Lisa Smith died in 2013 of cervical cancer, and three years later dad Alexander Rodriguez died of lymphoma.
Samantha was only 17 years old when she lost her parents, their grandmother Lourdes became their legal guardian. But arthritis did not allow her from playing a more active role in the younger kids’ lives.
After all this Samantha decided to take all the responsibility of her family to keep them together. She said, “There was no way that I was going to let us be split up”.
She realized that “no one in our family could take us all in,” Samantha told PEOPLE in this week’s issue, “I decided that I had to do everything I possibly could to help these kids.”
Samantha takes care of her siblings as a mother do, from packing their lunches to take her siblings to and from school and scheduling doctor’s visits and helping them in getting their homework done.
She works nights as a waitress at a nearby restaurant and last year the local sheriff’s station helped make Christmas happen in the Rodriguez household and earlier this year anonymous donors came together to buy Samantha a car.
Samantha says: “I am so blown away by the help we’ve received,”
“It’s a reminder that everything will be okay.”
The family also has GoFundMe that has raised more than $65,000. Samantha is saving all of my money to move the family to a bigger house and pay for college for her siblings and herself. She even wants to take her whole family on a trip to Disney World.
Her siblings appreciate the efforts of their elder sister and they know how much she has done for them.
“I don’t know where we would be without Sam,” says Michael, “but I know it wouldn’t be good.”
Milagros says: “Samantha wanted us to stay together as a family. It means so much to us.”
“Every night we sit down together and say grace,” says Samantha. “We’ve come a long way, and we have a lot to be thankful for.”