Six years ago, Gabriella Dominguez stopped by Casa Maria in need of a dozen tortillas; this visit prompted her six-year volunteer endeavor at Casa Maria.
Gabriella, a Nogales Sonora native, along with her two children moved to Tucson nine and a half years ago when her paycheck in Nogales didn’t cut it anymore. In Nogales, Gabriella held a position in human resources and studied “Lic. Administracion de Expresas.”
Marriage troubles and financial struggles motivated her move to Tucson where she temporarily lived with her brother and cleaned homes. Later, she applied for a position at Food City on Sixth St. near the Freeway. She’s going on her ninth year working in the Food City carneceria at a location that employs many members of the Casa Maria barrio.
Both of Gabriella’s children, Gabriella Garcia, 24, and Ruben Garcia, 20, are graduates of Pueblo High School and are seeking degrees at Pima Community College. Both Gabriella and Ruben spoke only Spanish and were thrown into English-only classes at their respective Tucson schools. Within a year both spoke fluent English.
Gabriella Garcia is married and pursuing a degree in education, while Ruben is studying Computer Science and Systems. Both are studying at Pima Community College.
In addition to his interest in Computer Science, Ruben is a musician who plays multiple instruments including the guitar, organ and piano. A music class that he took at Wakefield Middle School triggered his interest in the subject.
Ruben as he was nicknamed by his high school friends, “El Zurdo” (the lefty), is impressively a self-taught pianist and multi-instrumentalist.
When Gabriella isn’t working at Food City, she’s spending time with her family or volunteering at Casa Maria. Gabriella dedicates herself to Casa Maria as much as she can; typically she volunteers on days that she is scheduled to work evenings at Food City as well as her days off. Gabriella assists in the Soup Kitchen and also oversees the showers and clothing donations at Casa Maria.