Our Community - Nellie Gomez -"Keeping it 'clean' in San Pedro"

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 13, No. 16            May 1, 2003

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Nellie Gomez

For a business to flourish in San Pedro, where the competition is tight because of the small population, one needs to be independent and versatile. Nellie Gomez, of Nellie's Laundromat is one individual though, whose resourcefulness has made her one of the top businesswomen in her field.

    Nellie Gomez was the first of three children, born to parents Ernesto and Tomasita Gomez on August 19th, 1951. Born on the island, she enjoyed the simple life of her younger years on Ambergris Caye.

    Nellie started her education at the age of five, and attended the San Pedro Roman Catholic School. Nellie completed primary school at age 14, but because there was no secondary school on the island, she was forced to move away from her family in order to complete her education. She attended St. John's Extension (high school) in Belize City, where she overcame her shyness and became more independent living in two different boarding houses.

    After four years in Belize City, Nellie decided that city life was not for her. She returned home to her parents in beautiful San Pedro, explaining, "After all, this is paradise, there is no comparison." With her newfound independence she obtained her first job at Martha's Store, where she stayed for one year, before moving on to become a receptionist at the Coral Beach Hotel. Nellie remained there for seven years before accepting a more responsible position at Paradise Hotel where she was employed as the hotel office manager. She stunned the hotel bosses with her friendly personality, ability to multi-task and her knack for making things run smoothly. Two years later, Nellie was promoted to general manager of the hotel.

    A short time later, because of health problems, Nellie had to leave Paradise Hotel, but decided not to let this unfortunate circumstance squelch her spirit, and with the confidence gained from the last two promotions, took her first leap into business independence. In the early 90s, she opened a gift shop  on Barrier Reef Drive, called Shop 1001. One year after Shop 1001 opened, Nellie started her second business - Nellie's Laundromat. This enterprise has provided the community with same-day laundry service for the last 11 years. But Paradise Hotel had not forgotten Nellie, for while she was operating her gift shop she was hired as manager for the Paradise Villas Homeowner's Association (P.V.H.O.A.). In 1998, Nellie decided that she could handle even more challenges and established Nellie's Property management. One year after starting this new business, she sold the gift shop, so as to focus her attention on her other growing enterprises.

    Nellie currently manages three jobs at the same time, continuously testing her organizational skills. She has managed the P.V.H.O.A. for the last 13 years, owned the Laundromat at the same time, and also operated Nellie's Property Management for five years. You may ask yourself how one woman can keep all of these businesses straight. Nellie employs the services of her sister-in-law, Millie Gomez, who is in charge of managing and accounting at Nellie's Laundromat. She says that "Millie provides all the support that any businesswoman could want." All in all, Nellie presently employs a total of 16 people in her businesses, but she is always ready to expand.

    While Nellie ensures that all her businesses operate effectively, she sometimes works from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Nellie gets out to relax "once in a little while," dancing up a storm or simply enjoying time with her friends. She prefers to take only "short trips" away from the island she has called her home for over 50 years.

    Nellie's message to fellow residents and visitors to her home is, "Be proud of what the island offers. Keep the island beautiful, and show respect to everything and everyone". Nellie Gomez has fulfilled her end of the bargain by maintaining all kinds of island property in "Our Community".

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