Dulce Martínez’s father was a building porter. Back then, she worked at a register. “There is something better for you,” her father said. “I’ll give you the address, just go apply. You’ve gotta push yourself to do something better.”
Martinez, who lives in Brooklyn, originally didn’t want to do it because of the commute to Manhattan, but her father’s advice won her over and she filled out an application. At the time, there was no availability, and it was months before she got a call to fill in for someone.
Once a supervisor saw her work, she said to Martinez “I promise you will get a job here.” She didn’t believe it at first, but the supervisor told Dulce that she was great, and to come back on Monday. This was back in 2004. Martinez has been a porter ever since, and now is responsible for keeping offices clean at the MTA Headquarters, where she is a shop steward.
“The best part of my job is getting to know my coworkers and their thoughts and what motivates them to come to work every day,” she said.
Her father passed away from COVID-19 in April of last year, and continues to be an inspiration for Martinez. He used to work six days a week and overtime as a porter, which allowed him to provide for the family and achieve his dream of owning a home outside of the city. “He wanted to get a house,” said Dulce, “and he made it happen. A small one, but that was his dream.”
A year without him has been tough. “I love my dad,” she said. “Sometimes I feel lost, but he didn’t want us to cry...Sometimes I think about how my dad wouldn’t want to see me down and I have to go out and work to do what I gotta do.”
When accepting her Building Service Worker of the Year Award, Dulce dedicated it to her father.
“He always said when you do something, you have to do it with love and passion. You always gotta love what you do: work for it, be responsible, time is very important” said Dulce. “And I was like ‘oh my god, I have to make it happen. For him, for me, and for my family.’”