I remember being 12 years old and sitting in a classroom staring at a print of an archangel protecting two young children. Whenever I see Cecilia Rodriguez, the benevolent executive director of CALM, I recall that picture. Her soulful eyes are comforting as she walks down Chapala Street, and her features are framed by a long, well-kept mane of graying hairs, with her hands confidently clasped behind her back. She’s at once delicate and regal and fierce.
CALM, which stands for Child Abuse Listening Mediation, is the nonprofit organization that provides education and raises awareness in hope of preventing child abuse. It provides numerous comprehensive services and counseling for children, families, and adults, with a sprawling network of professional staff and volunteers. For more than 40 years, CALM’s mission hasn’t changed: to protect and serve the most vulnerable.
The wounds of child abuse is something I will never get completely away from, but I take solace in the fact that, at least in Santa Barbara, we have a guardian angel in Cecilia who is tenaciously looking after our community.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
If I’m warm, I’m happy.
Who do you most admire?
My mother. She was honest, courageous, and always stayed in integrity with herself. Oh … and she loved life!
What is your greatest extravagance?
Travel, travel, travel — but is it an extravagance … or is it the juicy stuff that makes life worth living?
What is the quality you most like in people?
I like people who have a sense of fun, who don’t take themselves too seriously.
What is the quality you most dislike in people?
Which talent would you most like to have?
I would like to be multilingual. How about a “language pill”?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Not one thing.
Where would you most like to live?
I’d like to live in a condo downtown. Are you listening Alma del Pueblo or Chapala One?
What is your most treasured possession?
Nothing in my home is precious except the people who reside there.
What makes you laugh the most?
Listening to the giggles of little children in CALM’s waiting room … that makes me laugh!