George Duarte, 65, has known good times and not-so-good times. A former phlebotomist and waiter, where he made as much as $800 a week, all that came to an end when he injured his back. On disability for the last 13 years, his income today is $760 a month, which must cover all expenses, including the cost of his diabetes medicine and high winter utility costs.
“I freaked out when I first went on disability,” he says. “I wondered, ‘What happened? Am I going to have a meal tomorrow? How am I going to survive?’”
Many people turn to family for help in such times. George’s family is a cat—a cat that also requires medicine. Yet he remains undeterred, filled with a generosity of spirit and purpose that has powered him through deprivation and bouts of homelessness.
“These people donating, they give us our respect back. I’m thankful. I really am, and I want these donors to know, hey, we thank you.”
“I give food to people in my neighborhood… I tell people, ‘If you don’t have something, come on over. I’ve got beans. I’ve got spaghetti. I’ve got pasta. I’ve got sauce.’ I like to share.”
“I did Thanksgiving for 11 people. They came to my door. I gave them a plate… I’ve always had something for somebody to eat. That’s the way I was raised.”
He adds, “It’s important for donors to know that they’re not just helping one guy.”
As a current client of Centre Street Pantry in Newton and a former food pantry volunteer in Brookline for 10 hours a day, George Duarte understands well and appreciates the dynamic of volunteerism and charitable giving.
“I know what it’s like when getting food and you see a smile on someone’s face. It makes you feel good. Just like we smile when we get it. These people donating, they give us our respect back. I’m thankful. I really am, and I want these donors to know, hey, we thank you. I say, if I ever [have money to give], I’ll be donating to these places. I’ll be helping. I’ll be giving out food like crazy.”
“Without this, we’d be lost.”
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