Imagine coming to America at 19, with no English, to study at the largest University in the nation. That’s the story of Yahaira Rose, who left Puerto Rico in 1992 to study at the Ohio State University. She earned her degree, then a Master’s in Leadership Development, and completed ABD coursework in Organizational Psychology.
Yahaira has spent much of her life helping immigrants and marginalized people in Central Ohio, helping those on the path that she once walked. As Director of the Martin de Porres Center, a Columbus, OH, ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, she has manages several ministries that offer a brighter future to the marginalized in our community.
In 2011, Yahaira founded Proyecto Mariposas (“Project Butterflies” in English) — which provides programming and support for mothers and daughters of the growing Latinx community in Central Ohio. Today, Proyecto Mariposas serves about 120 girls and 50 mothers each year, and will celebrate its tenth anniversary with current and former members at a Columbus park.
Working with the Dominican Learning Center, another ministry of the Dominican Sisters of Peace, she, along with key partners from around Central Ohio, has created a program to help immigrants prepare for their citizenship exams. More than 30 local residents have gained their citizenship through this program.
As part of her work with the Congregation’s anti-violence project, Yahaira manages Rising Youth, which supports Latinx youth with homework help, mentoring and mental health support.
During 2020, when many Latinx families fell through the social safety nets that were intended to assist those suffering from COVID-19, Yahaira worked with the Dominican Sisters of Peace to distribute food and personal items to more than 500 families who are members of Proyecto Mariposas, Rising Youth or the Dominican Learning Center, She and her staff also prepared weekly boxes of educational and developmental activities to keep homebound children mentally active.
Honored by the Ohio Latino Affairs Commission as a Distinguished Hispanic Ohioan in 2019, Yahaira is well known as a champion of her culture and community. In 2021, as the city of Columbus looked to find new ways to control youth violence, she was invited to be a part of the City’s new “Reimagine Safety” initiative. As a result, Rising Youth received a grant that has allowed Yahaira to create a series 10 week-longg summer camps in 2021. Teens who are attending the camps learn about conflict resolution, safe relationships, coping with stress, financial planning and more. They also enjoy working as teams to prepare daily meals, and learning new skills like video editing, biking and paddleboarding.
“It’s such an honor to be a part of this, Yahaira told NBC4-Columbus. “Our camps will give kids the skills to learn skills and learn resilience and learn how to deal with the challenges they’ve been dealing with throughout the year.”