Fueled by Empathy

As the Collier County Resource Center’s only employee, Marioly Soto continues to work tirelessly to help others

When Marioly Soto moved to the U.S. to support her family in Cuba, she faced a new world alone.

Mariola

​Skills necessary for success in America — driving a car, building a line of credit — were mysteries to her, spoken in a language she had yet to learn.

​“There were times I felt lost,” Soto recalls. “But I never gave up. I knew I must be brave and follow my dreams.”

And now, she provides case management to vulnerable adults and children as the Collier County Resource Center (CCRC) program coordinator.

​“I knew from the first meeting that she had the gift of empathy and determination, coupled with a strong work ethic,” says CCRC founder Nina Gray.

​​“When I heard the story about how she came to the U.S. and what trials she endured, I came to understand what she means when she says, ‘I never give up.’” Gray says.

Those struggling to find human assistance call the CCRC. At the other end of the line is Soto, connecting them with services that can help meet their needs, including paying for rent and utilities, employment, child care, diapers and prescription medications. These are omnipresent needs, but they have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis.​

As the center’s only employee, and now working remotely without her team of 15 volunteers, Soto is the sole responder to these calls for help. Still, she’s grateful to continue the work, especially now.

Similar to what Soto faced when she first came to the U.S. five years ago, her callers don’t know where to go or what to do.

“I am diligent about listening to every client carefully,” she says. “Each person has different needs, and everyone is special to me. I search to find the help necessary to improve their quality of life,” she says.

“For me, compassion is a state of constant giving of the self for others.”