I packed my bags and left El Salvador in 1991 in search of a better life for my family. I’m from the capital, San Salvador, where violent crime is rampant and life is very insecure. My oldest sons and parents still live there, and they depend on me to work and send money home.
I’ve lived in the Pomonok Houses for almost 40 years. I stay involved with this community in every way I can. I’m the PTA Treasurer at the local school, where I coordinate nutrition workshops for the parents. I try to make sure everyone around here knows about the Pomonok Community Center.
I live in Astoria, I’m 71, and I’m a gay senior. I married my wife in 1970, and we have two kids. They all know about me. Coming out wasn’t nearly as difficult as leaving the kids, the house, all the friends.
I was born in Manhattan in 1918. In fourth grade, my family bought a bakery, and we moved to the Bronx. Those were very prosperous times for us. Our closets and tables were always filled with bread. When the stock market crashed, times were tough, but we pulled through.
It was a challenging path that led me to become an Alternative to College Counselor. When I was in school, I was an academically-focused student, so I stayed just under the radar of my own counselor. I’d meet with her once a year, she’d tell me I was on track to graduate, and that was it.
Twenty five years ago, I came to this country with my three daughters. I visited New York once before I moved here. As a visitor everything looks wonderful but when you move here with a family, it’s completely different. It took me three months to get us our own apartment.