A few weeks back, Camilla and I found ourselves in Back Bay at a table in The Colonnade Hotel’s Brasserie Jo restaurant, sat across from the absolutely radiant Carolina Martinez. As we glanced over our notes one last time, we tried our very hardest to contain our excitement for the interview we were about to conduct. You may recognize her husband, perhaps, Baseball Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez. Pretty decent baseball player, they say! Quite well known in Boston, we hear!
Just kidding–Pedro is obviously a legend. But that’s not why we were so thrilled to be sitting there that day. Carolina Martinez is an activist and advocate, journalist, spokesperson, founder of the “Power in Learning”movement, former college athlete, the executive director of the Pedro Martinez Charity, and to top it all off, she’s got great style. She is a lady boss through and through, and here at Mack In Style, we get very excited about empowering women who can do it all, especially when they are so closely connected to our community.
Carolina was in town promoting the Pedro Martinez Charity’s upcoming event, Feast with 45, that is taking place this Saturday at Fenway Park. The event will feature Carolina, Pedro, and a line-up of other Boston notables who will have the chance to enjoy the flavors from over 40 of the city’s leading chefs, all for a great cause. The mission of the Pedro Martinez Charity is to educate, inspire and support undeserved children in the Dominican Republic, from where both Carolina and Pedro hail. We were so lucky to have caught her while she was in town to chat!
Your husband, hall of famer Pedro Martinez, has had one of the most successful pitching careers in Major League Baseball, but you aren’t simply just the wife of an athlete. Your resume is just as impressive, and you’ve both dedicated yourselves to helping others, especially in your native Dominican Republic. How did you get your start in charity work?
I was really intrigued by the reality of teenage girls in the Dominican Republic and what was happening with the rise of teenage pregnancy and teenage prostitution. Because I had the blessing to come over to the States to get an education, it struck me. I used to see BC students go over to the Dominican every summer, for community work trips, so I was intrigued by it because even though I was born and raised in the Dominican Republic, I never really saw, hands on, poverty. So it really surprised me and inspired me to see, you know, white Irish students from Boston going to a really impoverished community in the Dominican Republic. That kind of triggered me a little bit when I was doing my major here. Then after I married my husband, I really had a heavy burden for Dominican girls, and what the future of Dominican girls could be, and I started a girls program to empower them, to educate them, and to help them understand their sense of self-worth and self-esteem.
We all know that women are the queens of multitasking and balance is key, but you certainly have a lot on your plate as an activist and advocate, founder of the “Power in Learning” movement, journalist, spokesperson, and you’re the executive director of the Pedro Martinez Charity. What does a typical day look like for you?
A typical day starts with this fellow! [pointing to iPhone]. As soon as I open my eyes, this is what I do. I get connected, I start just reading emails, seeing what social media is like. We share a daily word on our social media platforms, so that’s the first thing I do when I get up in the morning. I have my coffee, I have my breakfast, and then I start responding to emails. That’s how every day starts.
You’ve said that your “Power in Learning” movement is “to help build self-esteem and confidence in teenage girls” and “When you get someone feeling better about themselves, that person can change the whole environment.” Can you tell us a little more about the kinds of things you do to empower these girls in the Dominican Republic?
First of all, I believe every child is a treasure. God puts people to discover those treasures in them. What it is they’re about. So what we do in “Power in Learning” is we give the tools to these girls-and boys, because it’s now a girls and boys program- to help them discover themselves. So we would know who a future baseball player could be…a future chef, a future poet, a future journalist. We test them and we give them the opportunity to be exposed to different disciplines. That’s basically what we do in our community center. We expose them to different disciplines, different workshops, different classes according to their ages, and once we see how they perform and develop, we kind of see what the kid is going to be, and we help them to just take that route.
How often do you go back to the Dominican Republic?
Often enough. We’re there, let’s say, two weeks out of the month.
You are preparing for the upcoming “Feast with 45” event at Fenway featuring over 40 of the cities top chefs…on that note, what are your favorite or go-to restaurants in Boston?
This is definitely one! [Referring to Brasserie Jo]. We love Morton’s Steakhouse because we have a history there, where my husband, when I graduated from BC, put together a surprise graduation dinner and flew people from the Dominican- my family, my friends- so that has a special meaning to us. We love Abe & Louie’s as well. We also love Strega.
You’ve done so much in your life. What has been your biggest accomplishment yet?
From a woman’s standpoint? I think the fact that I’ve been able manage properly every single responsibility that I’ve been given, as a wife, as a journalist, as executive director for the charity. I’m also a youth pastor in the Dominican, so the same children that come from the program and want to stay connected to the ministry, we have a Christian ministry attached to it, then i pastor those kids alongside a team of other pastors so that when I’m not there, they take over. My biggest accomplishment has been able to afford, in a responsible way, each one of those responsibilities.
What kinds of things do you write about in your column in the newspaper in the Dominican?
I grew up in a baseball family, so I always wanted to be a sports anchor. My brothers were professional baseball players, my mom was a professional softball player, and my dad was a professional baseball player as well. And I’m married to a baseball player…
This is putting my hand-eye coordination to shame! I can’t even hit a ball!
[Laughs] Basically my column is about sports and the different issues that athletes face and encounter. Not only baseball but I write on a general spectrum. So basically that’s what I write about.
Do you have any role models?
Honestly, Jesus is my role model.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
I think it would be to be content with what I have.
How can we help inspire and empower others more in our day to day lives?
I think you have to stay true to who you are. We are in a period of time in history where you get a lot of social pressure, mostly through social media because this is a technological generation, and I think that affects the integrity of who you are as an individual, just because you have so much pressure to be like somebody else. To be like that person that, like “oh my god, they put pictures eating everywhere! And they travel everywhere! And they have nice clothes!” In reality it’s not really real. A lot of people live fake lives through social media, and I think that’s having a really heavy influence into our generation that people are not understanding, because that’s making them want to achieve goals that are not attainable because it’s not real.
It’s similar to when photoshop came out, and you would see women with elongated legs and their torsos were so long and they were thin and that started creating the eating disorders and young women not being happy with their bodies. I think it’s the same thing with social media. I think the generation is being driven by that and not by who they truly are. If we want to really stay being real, we have to be true to ourselves. You’re wearing your scarf and it looks beautiful on YOU. The fact that it looks beautiful on you doesn’t mean that I need to have it. I don’t need to have that car, I don’t need to have that purse. So I think it’s a little sad. Technology is great, it’s a great asset, but you have to control it, it cannot control you. Stay true to yourself. You’re original, you’re original, you’re original [pointing around table] in your own sense; in your own style. You have to wish you had somebody else’s life. Everyone has their own burdens that they’re carrying, their own responsibilities, and you don’t know what’s real.
A giant thank you to Carolina Martinez for her time and Ring Communications for this opportunity!