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4 min read

Roswell, New Mexico. That’s right, most famous for being known as the place with aliens. It’s also home to one woman that is making a difference in the community.

Founded and led by Jeneva Martinez, The Roswell Homeless Coalition  is a nonprofit with a mission to serve the homeless and less fortunate in her community by empowering and equipping them to build the needed life skills to live a positive and productive life. The Coalition is comprised of local churches, businesses, community agencies, and individuals who are driven by a single goal - - to make homelessness history in Roswell.  It all began with Jeneva.

It all began 9 years ago when Jeneva started visiting the homeless at their campsites. She began making and handing out “blessing bags” as well as serving up to eighty meals a week with Cooking for Unity. She still felt there was more she could do.  Next, she started a tent and sleeping bag program out of her house. Feeling most fulfilled in this line of work, she formed The Roswell Homeless Coalition. Today, they provide health services, housing, donations, and meals to their community.

Despite all the good Jeneva was putting into the universe, her world was hit with devastating news - - she had breast cancer. At just 27, a single mom to two young boys, she was overcome with fear of what would happen to her children. Her new relationship with her now-husband was put through the ringer, but he never left her side. The diagnosis led her to the choice of a double mastectomy. “It was at that moment I knew I was about to face the biggest battle of my life. I had no idea how bad it was going to get but I was ready to fight,” she described.

After the double mastectomy, she chose to reconstruct. Her doctors had advised her she would be a perfect candidate to undergo a tram flap double mastectomy. “Basically, they used my own body tissue from my abdominal muscle and fat to reconstruct,” Jeneva explained. With reassurance from the professionals, she chose that path.  Looking back, however, she has regrets. She’d wished she chose implants instead of the tram flap decision. “I mean, a tummy tuck and boob job sounded great after hearing the “C” word, but I didn’t ask how many successful surgeries the surgeon had,”  she admitted. Shockingly, she found out she was only the third patient the surgeon had performed this particular surgery on. She strongly suggests any woman do her homework and carefully look at risks over benefits.

The recovery process wasn’t what she had imagined. Her tissue recovery was complicated by necrosis, which results in the premature death of cells in living tissue by autolysis. She spent nearly a year in a wheelchair.  Three times a week, a specialist would scrape away dead tissues. “I couldn’t take pain medicine before the appointment because I had tell the specialist when he hit live tissue. I never felt pain that way before,”she recalled. She was told that she may need assistance for the rest of her life after this injury. Despite that news, she was ready for battle, “I will do everything in my power to gain the strength I had lost.”

You would hardly believe that’s where Jeneva came from when you see her rollerskating. She’d always loved skating as a child and considered herself a “rink rat.” Twenty years later, the love of skating is still in her. “When I told my friends and family what I wanted to do, I don’t think they thought I was this serious.”

From skating to roller-derby, the sport requires a lot, both physically and mentally. “I actually have broken my patella from a big slam.” Jeneva is still searching for that perfect knee pad. She never rides without a helmet and, after thirty-five years of searching, she’s found a sports bra she won’t ride without, the SHEFIT Ultimate Sports Bra. “The nerve pain in my chest would bother me for days after a long skate session when I would practice flipping. Minimal bounce means minimal nerve pain at night and ready to skate the following day,” she testified. With all the protective gear, she’s prepared to fail and fall. She explains it’s simply part of life and growth. She happily shares her falls through her social media and isn’t ashamed of it. “I have always felt showing my fails shows I am human and was not born with skates on. It takes hard work, repetition, and several hours of hard slams.”

Jeneva hopes to inspire anyone who is interested in skating. You don’t have to be hitting the halfpipe to get the same thrills.  You can check out speed skating, dance skating, park skating, ice skating, trail skating, roller-derby - - the options seem endless. “I love what skating has done for me, so if I can pass this on to someone who wants to learn it or wants to improve their skills, that’s what I want to do,” she beams. Beyond the thrill, skating can provide the low-impact exercise you could be looking for, so give it a shot! 

Catch all Jeneva’s tricks and fails on her Instagram.

Get the same support as Jeneva with The Ultimate Sport Bra.

If you’re in the New Hampshire area and want to attend the Upper Level Skate Camp where Jeneva is coaching the weekend of March 15th, head HERE.

Read more about the Roswell Homeless Coalition and their mission, click HERE.

If you want to read more about her story, keep an eye out for Karen Kennedy’s upcoming book “You’re Never Too Old”.