Twenty years ago, a friend of Maria Vargas’s helped her apply for a job at 3 Park Avenue. She has been working there as a cleaner ever since. Now 62, Vargas is responsible for two full floors and three-quarters of another. Most of the offices she cleans house investment and financial firms.
Vargas came from the Dominican Republic 40 years ago, looking for more and better opportunities. She’s grateful for every day for her job and for the support of 32BJ. She gets along with all her coworkers. Surprisingly, Vargas hasn’t worked at 3 Park Avenue the longest. Eight of her coworkers have worked there more than 20 years. She says it’s because of the excellent benefits and supportive environment that they’ve stuck around so long. She’s grateful that she can make enough to take care of her family without a college degree, which wouldn’t have been possible in the Dominican Republic. On weekends she likes going to Broadway shows and restaurants in Manhattan with her husband, who is a chef.
When she first arrived in New York City in 1979, Vargas worked in a factory that made women’s handbags and was a home attendant. She began taking classes at LaGuardia Community College, but had to drop out to take care of her two daughters. One is a nurse, living in Baltimore, and one is a special education teacher in Miami. She’s very proud of them and the education they’ve achieved. “I’m so happy for that,” she says. She hopes to finish her own degree some day. Maybe after she retires in a few years and moves down to Miami to be near her daughter and the warmer weather.
Maria Vargas is very proud of her two daughters and the education they've achieved. "I'm so happy for that."