People of the Point – Rose Hawayek


In the Covid-19 silver linings category, meet Rose Hawayek, whose path to Point Roberts was paved in part by the pandemic. In 2020, when Covid-19 restrictions caused the closure of her successful San Francisco aesthetics business, Rose moved to Point Roberts, enriching our community with a diverse background and a natural generosity of spirit. In my eyes, Rose embodies the concept of community. She cares about others and our environment. When friends and neighbors are in need, they can count on her concern. I know this first hand. When my dog Alfredo died, she was at my door. To life’s ups and downs, Rose brings humor and compassion. Simply put, she’s good company.

Rose was born in Puerto Rico, but her hometown growing up was Miami. As the youngest member of the Hawayek family, she joined five older siblings, all born within six years and 10 months. Perhaps because of the security older siblings can provide, Rose developed a strongly independent spirit, fueled by a big imagination. “I invented my own games and made a huge adventure out of anything I could. When I rescued the family dog from under the house – the only one small enough to do it – I imagined fighting off tigers to get to him.” Her beautiful smile animates the room.

Although her father was a native of New Orleans, his ancestry is Lebanese. Her mother is from Cuba, where her parents met. The family traveled a lot, as Rose’s father was in the business of fine jewelry, procuring gems to be sold in retail stores. His goals for his six children were straightforward. “He valued education above everything else,” Rose says.

At age 13, Rose was enrolled in a French boarding school where the chief benefit was the wealth of diversity she encountered. “There were students from all around the world.” But her homecoming after graduating at 17-years-old was a shock. For the first time, her father wasn’t at the airport to pick her up. Her parents had divorced while she was gone.

Rose pursued a bachelor’s degree in marine biology at the University of Miami; for her graduation, her sister gave her a Caribbean cruise – a cruise Rose wanted to never end. Her imagination ignited the need to explore the world. “So I stayed on board for several years, as a croupier in the ship’s casino. I chose that because when in port, the casinos close and I got shore leave.” She bought land on St. Croix and traded it for a lot in Cape Coral, Florida. Thus began her dabble in real estate, buying, building, fixing up and selling.

Drawn by the beauty of Lake Tahoe, she moved to a mountain retreat and worked in casinos throughout her 20s, when her life began to fully unfold. “I met my first girlfriend and came out, but it was a rough time. I had a gay community but outside of that tight group I was scared. Would I lose my job? Would someone want to hurt me? I hid it from my mom.” It was the mid-90s and eventually things began to ease up, but never enough. “There were so many direct, specific moments in my life when I needed courage. One of those moments was when I came out while dealing at the poker table,” Rose says. “Somebody was bashing gays and he wouldn’t let up. I suddenly just stopped the game mid-deal. I asked the person to stop talking that way. I told him I was gay.” She shakes her head. “He argued with me ... told me I couldn’t be gay because I didn’t look gay. My hands were shaking when I started dealing again, expecting it to be my last night on the job. Then the tips just started pouring in from others at the table. I realized I was okay. Safe. I was embraced.” Rose’s authenticity is her strength.

At age 30, Rose went back to school for a degree in arts in motion picture and TV production from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. “My sister and I started a production company called Monte Cristo Films and for 10 years we produced commercials, music videos and feature films.” They shot all over the globe. “I loved every aspect of producing, but it was intense – non-stop.” After developing high blood pressure from 18-hour days, the doctor warned her to choose a different path. After taking an aesthetics course at the Aveda Institute, Rose created a beautiful, calming environment in her own business, A Bella New.

In 2014, Rose’s life changed forever. It was on the dance floor during Gay Pride weekend in San Francisco when Rose met Linda. “It was instantaneous,” she says, her face alight. A year later they married. “I never thought I’d be able to get married as a gay woman, but once you do, the feeling of acceptance is invaluable. The way you’re treated – everything is better. You’re home.”

Due to Covid, and the shuttering of the business, decisions had to be made. “Linda was originally from Vancouver, so in October 2021 we ended up in Point Roberts and what a great place to end up.” Rose gets the Point Roberts “sigh.” For her, it’s every time she sees an eagle, or heron, or deer. “Surrounded by water, mountains, this tranquility – what else can you ask for?” she says. “And my new neighbors, Frank and Justin on Whalen Drive anchored me here. They introduced me to everything Point Roberts.”

Many will remember Rose from her time at Nielson’s Building Center. “As a lesbian, I love hardware stores,” she laughs. “After two months there, other opportunities arose, but I am grateful for my time there,” Rose says, “And for all the knowledge I took with me and the great people I met and worked with.”

What strikes me most is Rose’s egalitarian and generous nature. She felt the pull of California and now the Pacific Northwest due to the ethos of kindness. “It’s more relaxed, more open to diversity and to humanity.” Rose has long been a member of numerous human rights groups including GLAAD (formerly known as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) and HRC (Human Rights Coalition). She’s equally devoted to animal rights and she and Linda rescued a 12-year-old golden retriever, who joined the family’s two other dogs. Now 15, their lovely dog, Holly, won the lottery. Rose sets a good example, and I can only hope my recently rescued senior poodle is half as lucky.

Rose’s warmth and openness to others is utterly genuine. To the great benefit of the people of Point Roberts, she is one who walks her talk.


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