A woman in East End district has received recognition for her dedicated service to helping children and seniors in the community.
Martena Villalobos, 54, was given a certificate of appreciation by the East End Seventh-day Adventist congregation in June.
“It was really nice of them and I appreciate it,” said Ms. Villalobos, as she is known by people in East End.
Cynthia Scott, the church’s secretary, said the church honored Ms. Villalobos because of her dedication to the church, children, and the elderly.
Ms. Villalobos does this charitable work while taking care of her four children, Ethel, Erina, Ethan and Ethana. A fifth child Earl is deceased.
“‘E’ was the letter of the alphabet I liked best for naming the children, and it just kept going from there,” she said.
On a recent morning while at home with her children at her residence on John McLean Drive, Ms. Villalobos said she loved children and the elderly from the time she was a little girl.
“All the children would attach to me,” she said. “We grew up as a very close family with my parents, Thomas and Loraine Carter, who had 10 children. Maybe that’s why I love children today,” she said.
When her mother passed away, Ms. Villalobos stepped into her mother’s shoes and helped raise her nine brothers and sisters.
She has volunteered at the after-school program at East End Primary School for the past four years, and as a Sunday School teacher for more than two decades. She says she loves spending time with family, and is a Christian who loves to read the Bible and do her craft work. The rest of her time she said is spent helping the seniors at the church.
“The children and elderly are my weakness. I will protect them in whichever way I can,” she said.
Over the years Ms. Villalobos held many different jobs, but retired from her position as manager of the West Bay Post Office after her son was killed in a car accident.
For this woman so dedicated to children, it was a cruel twist of fate that her son was to be snatched away so violently and quickly.
“It’s very hard to lose a child. It is like a piece of you that been gone and not replaced. You never get that back. But because I am a child of God I held on to him, and that’s what keeps me going, just trusting in God … maybe if I didn’t trust in Him I would be ‘cuckoo’ today,” she said.
“That morning in the bathroom I knew a child of mine was going to die and I started praying, ‘Lord please don’t let it be one of my children, please don’t,’” she said.
Inspired by the words of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life,” Ms. Villalobos said she put her trust in God.
Today she is thankful her son was also a child of God.
“I made sure to bring all my children in the church and taught them to love God and not to stray far from him. I also learned never to question God. He gave me John 3:16 to hold on to that day and when in doubt I cry out to him,” she said.
God has also blessed her with many talents. Ms. Villalobos can bake, cook, clean, sew, paint, thatch, crochet, draw and sing.
Her paintings reflect her love for children. One painting shows a girl who, though confused and lost in a field, is looking down at a big red rose with a smile on her face and holding a Bible. “No matter how you feel, lean on God’s word and you will stand strong,” she said, explaining the meaning of the painting.
Another painting is of a couple walking and holding hands.
“Be with me until I grow old. I just want you by my side so we can grow old together. This was painted for my husband, Jose Villalobos,” she said.
She says sometimes the Holy Spirit tells her she needs to go to a certain person.
“I just stop what I am doing and go. Most times that person needs my help. Whatever is going on in your life, just listen and trust God a little more,” she said.