In the Quad City Latino community there are many who make a living tending to this segment by providing service and products in a way that only those who know and live and/or work with this community can. In Moline’s Floreciente Neighborhood many business owners have been doing just that for years, serving the community while contributing tax dollars that are used to keep up the neighborhood, providing jobs to the people who live there, and even teaching others about business. Carmen Fuentes is one of those business owners how with her headstrong demeanor opened up Carmen’s Jewelry over 13 years ago in what some might consider not a safe part of town. But Carmen knows the people of the neighborhood, and they know how hard she worked to start her business, and the personal struggles that she’s surpassed that have made her the strong role model she is for many of the people of the Floreciente Neighborhood and beyond. Recently she was getting ready for the holidays and planning her visit to family in Mexico on January when all her plans suddenly changed as a gun was pulled out and pointed at her. It was about noon on Saturday, Dec. 2nd when a man opened the glass door into the small jewelry store and approached the display case in front of him. He asked to see the rings. A moment later the door opened once again, and three other guys walked in, that is when gun came out and the robbery began. She was struck with the gun but not seriously injured; her employee was held at knifepoint after one of the assailants jumped over a display case. The robbers are still on the loose and are suspected of committing other similar robberies across the Midwest. The traumatizing experience left Carmen with no idea as to what to do, and with practically no jewelry to sell. She says she was in a “limbo” and didn’t know what to do. After two weeks, Camen’s Jewelry opened its doors once again. Her motivation for the re-opening was the people who she serves. “The responsibility that I had to my clients, the things on hold, the repairs, the love I have to this business,” Carmen said. “I couldn’t close this; I put in a lot of work to this. It’s been almost 15 years and it took me a year to open to close down just like that. I couldn’t. I’m not the type that will give up easily.” Her pain was multiplied because those who robbed her were also Hispanic, like her. She says that the damage that they do hurts all Hispanics. “Because with the way things are now with the immigrants and all the raids that have been done, then these people who are Latinos come along and cause harm, well they harm everyone, not just materialistically,” Carmen explains. “Of course it’s not people from here. It’s people from other parts because here in my community I feel safe. The people are good, I am very happy to be here in Floreciente [Neighborhood].”With her “Mexican valor” she managed to pick herself up to take care of those who depended on her for their Christmas gifts this season. She has been welcoming people with a warm hug and a little inspiration for all of us to take this holiday season. “I consider everything as part of the process of my life. I don’t consider it a failure. Like experiences, some are good, some are not that good…Grow [personal growth] even if we don’t want to, and be happy.”That is the kind of attention that has made Carmen truly a gem in the community.