“Who does not live to serve, does not serve to live.”
It’s not a perfect translation, but to Maria Molina of York, the phrase she lives by — “Quien no vive para servir, no sirve para vivir” — is much more beautiful.
“When you do things with your heart,” she says through translator Laila Martin, “that’s what makes you really happy.”
Maria, 59, has lived a life serving others since she was a girl growing up on a farm in San Jose de Salcedo in the Dominican Republic. As the seventh of 13 children, she remembers cooking for the workers over a fire pit near the fields.
They were a poor family, but she says that was never an obstacle. They had a strong community around them that illustrated the importance of helping others.
“I want people to treat others how they would treat their own children. You have to give without giving something back.”
In 1977, Maria moved to the Bronx. About 20 years later, she visited York and moved to the area. She fell in love with the county’s luscious farmlands that reminded her of home and a strong community that looked out for one another.
She found her own ways to give back to the community. When she and her husband owned La Familia, a restaurant on Fulton Street, they’d often give away food. More simply, she’d make newcomers feel more comfortable in the area by showing them around.
One day, a woman was having an issue with her car out in front of Maria’s house. Maria offered the woman food and water while she waited, and the woman told Maria about CASA, an organization that advocates for the Latino community.
Maria has been volunteering with CASA in York County ever since. Mainly, she’s helped foster a nurturing and family-like community, one with the beliefs that were instilled in her by her family in the Dominican.
It’s a trait that she’s continued with her husband Jose, her children, Rachel, Josieo and Marcellinus, and her nine grandchildren.
“It comes from the heart,” Maria says. “I want people to treat others how they would treat their own children. You have to give without giving something back.”