Christina Rodriquez was born in Compton, California. Her parents decided to move to Santa Barbara when Christina was five because of the disturbing amount of gang violence in their neighborhood. Christina’s mother had a caring heart. She rescued many mistreated animals and brought them home to become a part of their family. Christina developed a strong desire to assist all living creatures needing help. She attended Santa Barbara High School and Santa Barbara City College where she studied accounting. She applied for a job with Unity to open their first retail store in 1995.
Christina learned how to purchase inventory, barcode, merchandise the sale items, and how to operate Unity’s first Retail Gift Shoppe which was opened on State Street in order to generate funds to purchase more client needs for all the referrals from hundreds of other non-profits county-wide. Retail sales revenues paid for 2 staff members, the cost of the store operations and supported the purchase of many items needed for clients.
Today, Christina works year-round to track and supply the merchandise needed in Unity’s Senior Resource Center, the “Free Grocery Store” the Children’s School Clothing Department and the Retail Sales Division. She supervises the warehouse and storage staff, works closely with the “Free Grocery Store” to order supplies, and helps to manage in-house inventory. Her many duties also include researching, purchasing, and displaying items for the Retail Store at 1209 State St. Unity’s needs are never met with only donated items, so Unity always needs to purchase merchandise for children, families and seniors. Unity must be able to buy milk, cereal, tuna, meat products, chickens, eggs, fresh fruits and vegetables, underwear, socks, shoes, sweats, t-shirts, school supplies, uniforms and pants.
Christina works with volunteers, seniors and Job-Smart clients teaching them how to operate Unity’s retail and client free store. She coordinates 5,000 special orders that are sent to seniors and the disabled annually in board and care facilities, hospitals and independent living facilities throughout Santa Barbara County.
Many customers from around the world love shopping in Unity’s Gift Shoppe on State Street. It is the best “Gift Shoppe” in Santa Barbara and is always stocked with gift items, jewelry, furniture, antiques, collectables and clothing. 100% of the sales help Unity provide support for our low-income neighbors, as it teaches work, learn and earn students how to improve their job skills. Everyone benefits; those that donate their time learn how to help their community and their low-income neighbors, and those that need help can avoid depending on government support as they learn how to take care of their own families and work toward self-sufficiency. The community benefits with less social problems.