(WSVN) - One South Florida woman has dedicated decades of her life to helping others, and her service knows no limits. Karen Hensel introduces us to her in tonight’s 7 Spotlight.

From teaching Zumba classes in the morning to feeding families in the afternoon, Martha Rodriguez is on a mission to make a difference.

Martha Rodriguez, YMCA volunteer: “The most important for me is give something significant in [my] life.”

And that’s exactly what she does as a volunteer at the YMCA in Allapattah.

The 67-year-old loves checking families in to La Bodega, a free food pantry at the Y, where she is known as Ms. Martika.

Martha Rodriguez: “It’s not only take the food and go. It’s take the food, teach something about the produce to give you what is good for your nutrition.”

Her career with the organization spans decades.

Martha Rodriguez: “This is my diploma.”

Back in the 1980s, Martha studied at the YMCA University in Mexico City.

Since then, she has been hired at nine YMCAs in Mexico and South Florida — working as a preschool teacher, swim instructor and camp advisor.

Martha Rodriguez: “Employee of the Year in 1995.”

That is one of the awards Martha received at the YMCA of Greater Miami. The first of many.

She worked at the Y in Little Havana, where Cuban immigrants could get help.

Martha Rodriguez: “For families that come into this country, and they don’t know nothing, they don’t have nothing. For these families who come in for the first time to this country, going to the YMCA, it’s like extend a family relationship.”

After that YMCA closed down, she started working in Allapattah.

Once the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Martha had to retire, but she couldn’t stay away.

She eventually came back as a volunteer.

Martha Rodriguez: “It’s a part of my life. It’s a part of my life for all the time.”

Martha has spent 40 years at the YMCA. That’s more than half of her life dedicated to helping people in need. And the staff here in Alappattah say she’s a gift that keeps on giving.

Emilia Solano, Allapattah YMCA: “She’s a member of the family. When you come in her presence, you know that she wants to help you in some way, and she’ll do whatever it takes to do that.”

Martha hopes to leave behind a legacy of hope and change.

Martha Rodriguez: “At the end of the day, we are human beings, human beings, and it doesn’t matter where you are coming from. Go to help somebody or give the change to somebody in their life.”

And everyone agrees, that is exactly what Martha inspires.

Karen Hensel, 7News.

If you know of a person, place or group that you think we should highlight, email us at 7spotlight@wsvn.com.

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