The Tampa Bay Lightning honored Rosa Rodriguez as the 24th Lightning Community Hero of the 2016-17 season during the first period of tonight's game versus the Ottawa Senators. Rodriguez, who received a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program, will donate the money to the Pinellas Park Library Cooperative, Safety Harbor Public Library Foundation, Blue Butterfly Productions / Theatre Exceptional and Revolutions Dance.
In 1992, Rodriguez began volunteering at a local deaf church in her native Puerto Rico. After becoming quickly immersed in deaf culture, Rodriguez was urged to attend an orientation to deafness program held in Knoxville, Tennessee. While partaking in the orientation, Rodriguez volunteered with the Tennessee School for the Deaf where she would later receive an offer of employment. Staying involved with the local deaf church and association, Rodriguez completed her Masters in Rehabilitation Counseling for the Deaf before moving to Tampa and beginning her work with the Tampa Bay deaf community.
Today, Rodriguez continues to touch the lives of deaf individuals throughout the Tampa Bay area. Whether it be scheduling deaf book discussions, partaking in deaf cultural and arts events, or encouraging deaf community members to take on lead roles at events, Rodriguez never ceases to amaze others by going above and beyond to help those around her. Rodriguez has taught communication skills to over 300 families with deaf members while instructing over 2,000 hearing patients sign language. Rodriguez also played an instrumental role in creating the Deaf Literacy Center in Safety Harbor, the deaf community's cultural, educational, and social center where she has continued to work for 16 years.
Rodriguez becomes the 253rd Lightning Community Hero since Jeff and Penny Vinik introduced the Lightning Community Hero program in 2011-12 with a $10 million, five-season commitment to the Tampa Bay community. Through this evening's game, in total, the Lightning Foundation has granted $12.8 million to more than 300 different non-profits in the Greater Tampa Bay area. Last summer, the Vinik's announced that the community hero program will give away another $10-million over the next five seasons.