The Story of Jessica Lee Ortiz


What are some of the important roles? Well my role, is simply one, servant. I’m here to serve the people of the community, and the people I feel I try to serve best are those that most likely, or most of the time are the unseen, or don’t feel they have a voice. I try to advocate, or  try to figure out what service I can provide with my skills and talents, so that they can get what everyone else already knows about. Um, for many years I was an agoraphobic. So, the reason my past shapes me now is because I remember not being able to. And I see people that are in wheelchairs and then they can later walk, and they walk everywhere and do everything, so I compare myself to, I couldn’t go outside for a very long time and I still have so many health issues, um but I don’t let them limit me. Being molested helps me identify with young girls, girls when I see them different, in a corner, without a voice, women who I know they’re getting in a battered situation, it’s easier for me to, try to help them steer and find that house, and let them know that they don’t have to be confound under a man, they can be independent, we can be independent. Help them find a job, help them find a path that you don’t have to be, so my past has made me, I want to say, not so cold like a rock but strong like a rock that I can be there, and there’s women, I call them the paper, and I’ll be your rock, until you turn into a rock eventually, so yes.

I am Puerto Rican, and it’s easy for us to come here. I have met Ecuadorian, Colombian, Cuban, Argentinian families, and I have met children who come over here who, have gone through things that I thought I knew. I’ve been, molested at two,  I was molested from all my elementary school, I was raped as an adult, I was kidnapped, I was beat, and none of those things can compare to the horrific stories of the families that I meet that come here from other Caribbean countries, they’ve lived in holes in the floor that, I can never imagine myself, they’ve run from government officials just so they can eat, so I think as, and I think it’s crazy because it’s me selling them a house, but these are the stories and the relationships so I think that is the biggest thing that, sitting down with these families when I have an expo, I really get to hear their stories and how they’ve come here for what I sit and complain about. Like I love my city of Allentown, but often I’ll complain about this and that, but to them this is like, the dream. Moments that I enjoy most are the moments like we say in our house, are off camera. So other, I have a husband and three children who are very successful, so other than looking at them, is how we’ve impacted others so that the same happiness that we have in our house, others have, when I see a couple but a house and begin their family. When I see young kids who used to be on the street who no longer are because now their parents are homeowners and they’ve changed the cycle and the statistics. That really gives me, like, I even have goosebumps now because just to see that what I can impact in someone else’s life just by them buying a house or even sometimes renting a house that is what like, kinda keeps me going and motivates and helps me go around all that.

The Story of Jessica Lee Ortiz
Jamie Kahn
Jessica Lee Ortiz
Interview with Jessica Lee Ortiz on her life experiences and struggles. She discusses how her life has inspired her to work in public service - helping to uplift women and families through her work in housing.
CC BY-NC 4.0

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