A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Ofelia Rowan

A Portage Life in the Spotlight: Ofelia Rowan

Ofelia Rowan is many things: a mother, a hard worker, and a crime show enthusiast. What really makes her stand out, though, is her kindness. In a world full of so much negativity and misfortune, Rowan is infinitely grateful for everything her family is blessed to have, and she strives to be as kind and giving to others as she possibly can.

Rowan may have grown up in Southeast Chicago, but since she lived right on the Illinois-Indiana border, Northwest Indiana has always been a home to her. She graduated from George Washington High School, and after graduating worked all kinds of different jobs. She’s done everything from working in a Sears Jewelry Department to being a Daycare Director. At one point she even went back to college at South Suburban College in South Holland, Illinois to study early childhood education for a bit. 

Working with kids has always been a passion of Rowan’s, but it wasn’t until she found out her daughter had down syndrome that she decided to become a stay-at-home mom with her three kids. 

“Since then, I haven't gone back to work. I've been a stay-at-home mom with her and she's had therapy since she was born. My main focus now is getting her the therapy that she needs and helping her with the steps that she needs to be on her own eventually,” said Rowan. 

Rowan admits that having a child with down syndrome can be difficult sometimes, but raising her daughter has been one of the most rewarding things in her life. She knows that finding out that your child has down syndrome can be challenging and encourages parents of children with down syndrome to not let their child’s disability affect their love for their child because they are wonderful. 

“My advice would be to just research and prepare yourself—they are a huge blessing. My daughter teaches me about patience. She is so smart, and she has so much love. She brings me up on a bad day. These kids are such a blessing. I’ve always been a firm believer that God only gives you what you can handle, and when I realized I was going to have a baby with special needs I was like, ‘Okay, well, obviously I know I can handle it because He’s given me a baby with special needs,’” said Rowan. 

Along with being a stay-at-home mom, Rowan is currently also the Vice President of the Portage Youth Basketball (PYB) Board. She enjoys giving back to the community and showing appreciation to people who often go unnoticed. Working with the PYB board and helping others has been a great outlet for her to let go of some of her stress and negative feelings, and has helped her become happier. 

The PYB Board has even started branching out from basketball and has started throwing appreciation luncheons for people who don’t get enough appreciation, like school custodial workers. Rowan thinks it’s incredibly important for people to support their communities because there are so many people who aren’t as fortunate, and she’s glad the PYB board is having such a positive impact. 

“We want it to be more than just basketball. We want it to be something that shows appreciation to people. These days right now telling somebody you appreciate them or thank you for everything they do goes a long way because it's not very common nowadays,” said Rowan. 

In her free time, Rowan loves to read—she’s currently working her way through the “Bridgerton” series and absolutely adores it. She also likes to do fun crafts with her Cricut machine, and watch crime shows. Rowan laughed, thinking about how sometimes the shows make her a bit paranoid, but she finds them interesting. 

The person Rowan is most thankful for in her life is her husband. They’ve been together for 13 years and married for seven of those years, and he continues to be an endless source of support. He knows how important PYB is to her and helps her make it a priority.  

“He puts up with a lot. He's a hard worker, and if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be able to do any of it, to be honest,” said Rowan.

Rowan is also grateful for her PYB board. Out of all the people she’s worked with over the years, the members of the board are the ones she feels have supported her the most. She couldn’t imagine working with a better group of people. 

“They're like our extended family. We all hang out outside of PYB, and we all celebrate each other's birthdays. We are there for each other through our lows and our highs. I've never had a group of people that I work with who make it so easy to do what we do, and that's a very, very important thing because when you don't have a good group of people working together it makes it extremely difficult. But these guys, they're such incredible people. It wouldn't function without them,” said Rowan.