“I volunteered here too, cleaning the tables, doing what I could to give back.” – Alberto

Soup Kitchen Stories: 2016

Voice of a Guest: Alberto

Fifty five year old Alberto is grateful for the role the soup kitchen has played in his life since he came to the United States many years ago seeking political asylum from Cuba.

With 13 brothers and sisters, Alberto recalls being hungry all the time growing up in post revolutionary Cuba. “We could only go to the store for food on the first day of the month, so things would be scarce most of the time, and then we’d have to barter for food.”

He also recalls the day when he was forced to leave both his family and his country. “Cops took you from your family and put you in the army,” he recalls. Sent to fight in Vietnam, he nearly died from a nearby grenade explosion. “The pieces of metal, some of them are still in me,” he says, pointing to his ribs.

Alberto made a brave escape while recovering in Panama, and from there sought and received political asylum in the United States. Landing in New York, he worked for the housing department  for 27 years, and during that time he also got married and raised his family.

“It was hard to start a new life in a new country, it’s so different,” he says. He remembers how helpful the soup kitchen was during his early years here: the daily meals, the clothes. “Without all that, I wouldn’t have been able to pay my rent.”

“I volunteered here too, cleaning the tables, doing what I could to give back,”  he says.

Since he stopped working because of health reasons two years ago,  Alberto’s come back for meals to help  stretch his limited income,  and to stay strong for his children and grandchildren who he spends as much time with as he can. During this new phase in his life, our social services team came to his aid once again, this time by guiding him through the procedures for social security and public health assistance. A survivor, Alberto is filled with gratitude for the simple things in life.

“This place is the best, in here there is opportunity…and the food…I love it!”