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“I Became Their Mom, Dad, and Sister at 17”- Young Woman Cares for 5 Siblings After Parents Tragically Die
young girl becomes 'mom' to 5 siblings after parents tragically pass away
Uplifting News

“I Became Their Mom, Dad, and Sister at 17”- Young Woman Cares for 5 Siblings After Parents Tragically Die

When tragedy left a gaping hole in her family, the community stepped up to mend them together.

Most of us lose sight of the pillars that our parents are until they're lost forever.

The Rodriguez family sadly found this out when, within a couple of short years, sickness snatched away theirs. First, cervical cancer took mother Lisa Smith. Shortly after, father Alexander Rodriguez lost his battle with lymphoma.


When the smoke cleared, 20-year-old Samantha Rodriguez was thrust into the role of mom, dad, and sister for her siblings Destiny, Bella, Michael, Brenda, and Milagros, aged 7 to 16.

She supported them by working as a server at Disney Springs at Disney World. 

Having to grow up fast, Rodriguez confided to CNNthat it was a struggle.

It can be tough knowing when to be like a parent and when to be their sister. Sometimes it can feel like I'm alone.

Samantha Rodriguez

Little did she know, the determined Rodriguez was far from alone.

A secret set of keys

Rodriguez told PEOPLEthat she was daunted but ready to take on this responsibility.

No one in our family could take us all in, [so] I decided that I had to do everything I possibly could to help these kids. There was no way that I was going to let us be split up.

Samantha Rodriguez

The Orange County Sheriff's Office agreed. And so, to lift their spirits, they invited the Rodriguez's over for a tour of the station and showered them with toys and clothing.

However, when the family came in an Uber as they didn't have a car, the Office sent out an APD for generosity. Sure enough, the search landed a few hits.

Several anonymous donors stepped up and, inviting the family back a few months later, the Sheriff's office presented them with a brand new car.

Rodriguez was floored.

"I was so in shock!" she said. "This is so crazy!"

It really didn't sink in until a couple of days after. Everything I plan now for the kids is so much easier. I don't have to call for a ride. I'm very grateful for it. All these people reminded me I'm not alone.

Samantha Rodriguez

Samantha would need to keep her energy reserved because the best was yet to come.

Community Love

As the Rodriguez story- and their new car- made airwaves, many felt that it was not enough. So, a GoFundMe page in their name was started.

"There is still a long road ahead for this family," the post read.

Donors didn't disappoint. Thousands of donations poured in. As of this writing, they've raised over $180,000 for the Rodriguez family.

Comments from inspired donors flooded the page.

"I have to tell you what a REMARKABLE human being you are.. your siblings are so very blessed to have you and you are truly an inspiration to everyone," wrote one.

Another said to keep the faith.

You are an amazing young woman and all of your siblings are such precious kids. There will be tough days ahead, but if you all continue to rely on each other then you can all accomplish anything! Best of luck!

Anonymous Donor

There's enough love to go around

Rodriguez says that she's forever changed after the outpour of kindness.

It gave me so much inspiration to do better for other people. Other amazing people came into our life like this and they didn't have to. We are so grateful.

Samantha Rodriguez

Rodriguez does have one other special angel who has given her strength.

"I learned so much from my mom. I was like her sidekick. I learned what it meant to raise a family," she said.

For Samantha and her siblings, there's no regaining their parents or their innocence that was lost. But, thanks to open hearts, you can bet that Lisa and Alex can rest easy knowing that they'll be just fine.

More uplifting stories:

Lead with compassion
"Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive."- Dalai Lama

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