What Manuel lacks in height and weight he makes up in character, heart and humility. Now sixty-two, he has always been the sole income provider for his family. His wife Florentina stays home to care for their two-year old grandson Victor while their daughter Flor attends classes in David. As the only male model in this family, Manuel takes great pride in helping raise, guide and love this little boy.
Last fall, before his sudden illness, subsequent surgery and long recovery period, Manuel was the gardener and groundskeeper for three local families. He had already shown himself to be a reliable and capable worker. He ably demonstrated those qualities when one of his employers, an elderly woman in her 70s, fell during the night and lay on the floor until Manuel’s arrival at 7 a.m. After making her comfortable he called the neighbors and an ambulance to take her to the hospital. He is so much more than an “employee”; he is a trusted friend and assistant. All of them very much miss his diligent work on their properties, his cheerful outlook and his thoughtful ideas. Manuel assures them that he is looking forward to resuming his work as soon as he regains his full strength.
He says that he is not use to looking to others to help feed his family and he feels embarrassed, but he also admits that he is grateful for every bag of rice and basket of staples. With Victor standing beside him, Manuel shared how excited everyone gets when the Buenos Vecinos volunteers arrive each month. He added, “We thank God that you always remember us and give us this food with a smile.”