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December 11: Shelby Rodriguez
Shelby Rodriguez; Healthy Child Healthy World's 2009 Mom on a Mission, Volunteer and Community Organizer
Home: Antelope, CA Education: Currently working on her Master's degree Currently volunteers for: The American Lung Association How much she's raised for the ALA so far: $700
Shelby Rodriguez is the 2009 winner of Healthy Child Healthy World's Mom on a Mission Award. For the last year she has been fighting for clean air in her community and was successful in stopping a corporation from using a harmful, toxic, fume producing hot tar roof application on over a hundred roofs still needing work in her neighborhood.
After moving into a new rental home, she started to develop a scratchy throat, sores in her nose, a cough and asthma symptoms. After some investigation into the constant roofing tar fumes that seemed unsafe to her, she found out that all 534 homes in the rental community had either been tarred or were set to be tarred during an ongoing three-year project. She immediately became worried about the safety of her three-year-old daughter and became the community organizer to stop the tar roofing at the Arbors in Antelope, California.
She began by filing complaints with the local Air Quality District, as well as creating and distributing a flyer to her neighborhood of roughly 150 acres to inform others about the situation. By talking to her neighbors, she found that there were other people who had similar symptoms, and she realized the health of the whole community was in jeopardy, especially the children's.
She received a call back from an EPA TASC manager who approved a report and community presentation for her neighborhood, which helped to bring validity to Shelby's claims that asphalt roofing tar was unsafe. Shelby found a place for the venue and worked with the TASC researchers and writers on the drafts for the report, made contacts with local government, the American Lung Association and the Sierra Club and created a petition with over 150 signatures. Shelby was able to organize enough volunteers to have a flyer placed on all 534 homes in her complex as well as many of the surrounding homes that were also affected by these toxic fumes. She was also successful in getting two out of the three local news stations to cover the meeting and stood up to tell her story and ask those in charge of the roofing to change to a safer and greener alternative roofing method for flat roofs called TPO "cool" roofs. In the end, Shelby's perseverance forced the company to switch to alternative roofing material.
Shelby now volunteers at the American Lung Association and raised $700 for clean air. She is currently going to school to finish her Master's degree, and is working to restrict the use of hot tar roofing in residential areas and near schools in California for good.