SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — If you know anything about San Diego's Barrio Logan neighborhood, then you know it lives up to its name. The historic neighborhood is filled with strong community connections.
Elizabeth Rodriguez, or "Lizzie" as she's known in the neighborhood, is one of the area's residents who has found a way to bind the community even in the face of her own personal tragedy.
"When people talk to, see, and communicate with people who live in their area, who talk like them, eat like them, and dress like them, they're more inclined to feel a sense of connection," Rodriguez says.
Bringing people together is what she does best.
"She knows everyone in her neighborhood. And not just a casual hello. She knows their family, she knows who's going to school, who has a business, who's struggling, and who might need some help. And she makes sure to connect with them on a personal level and then connect them to resources that can help," says Sarah Jones, a friend of Rodriguez's.
You hear that word a lot when people talk about Rodriguez. "Connection." She's a grassroots organizer for Barrio Logan and her latest pet project is just that: for pets.
"I've always loved animals. That's my absolute number one passion," Rodriguez says.
It's a passion driven by the love for her chihuahua, Rico. Unfortunately, he got out of his yard and has been missing since March. Rodriguez spent countless hours walking Barrio Logan and handing out flyers. In that time, she discovered something important talking to the neighbors.
"If a family isn't getting enough income to provide food for themselves, they're not going to have it for their animals. If they don't have healthcare, they're not going to get that for their animals," she says.
So, she turned her own tragedy into something positive for her community. She partnered with the San Diego Humane Society and organized "Pup-ups" events in the park to provide food, spay and neuter vouchers, dog leashes, and yes even microchipping.
"You get things done. That I do, come hell or high water, it is going to get done," Rodriguez says.
That's not the only thing she's getting done. She's also working with the City of San Diego's Parks and Rec Department to create a dog park for the neighborhood right here at the corner of 30th and Oceanview Boulevard at Memorial Park.
"The way to get things done is, by what I live by is the ABCs: activism, bridge building, and communication," says Rodriguez.
She has been called a tireless volunteer. She helped over 2,000 of her neighbors sign up for the COVID vaccine, she works for the Girl Scouts, and she helps to honor the traditions of the Latin culture, organizing classes to make and teach the history of Day of the Dead sculptures, pinatas, and more.
"That idea, that passion, that thing you've always wanted to do that's important to you, do it. Do it. You are going to find your tribe that will support you, foster you, and make your dream a success. Do it. Now is the time, just do it," says Rodriguez.
For her work in the community, Rodriguez has been chosen as this month's ABC 10News Leadership Award winner.
If you would like to help Lizzie in her cause to raise money for the dog park in Barrio Logan, there will be an event on Sept. 25 at Memorial Park. Email email@example.com for more information or follow on Instagram @barriobarks92113.
CLICK HERE to nominate someone for the ABC 10News Leadership Award.