In 2006, there were issues with my living room [ceiling], [which] the landlord was ignoring. They [eventually] sent someone to fix the problem and the guy painted over it, even though he saw it was going to collapse. He said, “don’t worry, it’s going to be okay. There’s no problems now.” [Three days later] I heard a little crack in the ceiling. My son was playing right there where it was happening. So I moved him and brought him outside. I thought, something is funny, it looks like it’s cracking more and more. So what I did is start taking stuff away [that was under it]. And [the last thing I remember] is bending my knees and passing out. The ceiling fell on my head. My [front] door was open [and] one of my neighbors [was already] coming to ask me a question and she found me on the floor. They called the ambulance. And I woke up in the hospital with all these lights in my face.


I [now] have a blood clot in my brain. I have good days. I have bad days. I have days where I can’t get up out of the bed. I have days where I’m walking like a normal person. I'm in a lot of pain, everyday there's no change. Even right now, I have neck pain. I’m doing my best. I have great doctors, good psychiatrist. The team of doctors I have is amazing. I take 42 injections every three months in my head and I take 17 pills a day. But it works. So when you see people that have more problems than you have, it’s nothing. I’m in pain everyday, but I try not to talk about it because there’s nothing you can do. When the day is bad, you learn from it. You're learning something and you try to make it better. My hope is to finish college. It means everything to me.


I came to America 33 years ago [from the Dominican Republic]. I got married and I had my son. It was tough because I was in school, I was in college. It was beautiful because I was about to become a lawyer, but then I had to leave because my town was getting [dangerous]. I wanted to give my son a better life. He was little, just a baby. It was difficult to [get adjusted to America]. It was new for me, it was scary. You don’t know where to go. Let's say when you go on vacation. You know you're on vacation, you don't know [anything about the place you're in], but you know you're going to go home. In this case, it's the opposite. You need to know what's going on. My life started getting into getting up at 5am, go to work. Go back, go to work, go back, go to work. And that was the life, basically. You going from one job to the next job to the next job to the next job. It's crazy how you have to survive. I don't have family [here]. No brothers, no sisters. No one. So you have to step up, you have no choice. It was nice to [just] find somebody to babysit my son and I took it from there. If I told you stories, you'd be like... that happened?


After the accident, it was bad. It was a struggle. I got scared. I still do. You don’t know if you’re going to get up out of the bed. I have days that I can be in the bed and my whole body is sleeping. You feel like you’re in a box. It’s [been] so bad [trying to make a living] because you have to live for what you got. You have to squeeze every dollar. I don’t have much money from social security. I don’t have food stamps. Every time I try to apply, they keep denying, I don’t understand why. The Legacy Center has helped a lot. They give a ton of different stuff. When you come, you can get beans, you can get meat, you can get chickens. You can make your meals and that helps me relax. You say, “okay I saved that money”. I can do this. It will work. When I’m in the line, I normally put in my headphones in. I have time to think, to put things into perspective. Christmas gifts, even Mother’s Day, there’s always something that make you laugh, that make you happy. Save a lot of money on vegetables and groceries. I always hear people talking, people’s stories, how [the Legacy Center] has helped them, especially the elderly. And this program for everybody is amazing, sincerely from the bottom of my heart. They're here in the winter, when it's snowing, when it's raining, when it's freezing. And the Legacy Center is [still] outside. That makes me feel really good. They're working. It's a volunteer job, but they do it so beautiful, with such a heart.


God is everything. Because without him, I wouldn’t be here talking to you right now. You have no idea what I’ve [been through]. He gives me hope in a lot of ways. He’s given me a lot of good things. My son was born at 26 and a half weeks. Right now he's 23 years old. The doctors said he's not going to walk and talk. [But] he talks and walks and play games. And he finished college. You see what God did? Anything difficult, I pray and I say, “I’ll leave it to you. I have to let it go. You’re going to help me.” And next thing I know, [help comes anywhere]. I keep telling people you have to believe. You just got to believe and say thank you. Every day you get up. Everything you do. I just want to thank you [for being on Earth]. And that’s beautiful to me. I don’t know what you want to do with that, hopefully something positive, but what I'm saying is life is good because God brings us here for a reason. We have purpose. We have to do it. It doesn’t matter little this, little that. [Serve people] and do them favors. What your right hand does, your left hand doesn’t have to know. Do people favors and just forget you even did it. Don’t hold it in your hand what you did. [My life] has been tough, but it’s still good. Oh my gosh, it’s still good. I’m telling you, no joke.