|Muñoz and his family (CNN Heroes)|
In my opinion a hero is a person that helps, supports and worries about people or things. Someone that has the courage to do something very special and unique, that other people normally don’t do. “I’ll help anyone who needs to eat. Just line up,” mentions Muñoz. Would you spend time and money on your break, and even make your house storage to feed over 100 homeless people? Jorge Muñoz is a school bus driver. That is his first work. When he finishes his first job he goes home and prepares for his second job, which is to prepare food to deliver at the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd Street in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York.
Jorge Munoz was born in 1965 in Colombia. His father died in an accident; soon Jorge Muñoz and his mother immigrated to New York to look for work to support their family in Colombia. Soon they received legal residency. Now he serves food at his second job. He spends half of his salary cooking food with his family and preparing to deliver it. Jorge Muñoz has done this since 2004 and now he estimates he has served about 70,000 meals. At first there were only Hispanic people surrounding his white truck; now there are Chinese, Ethiopians, South Asians, Egyptians, black and white Americans and a British man who lost his job. “I thank God for touching that man’s heart,” said Eduardo, one of his regulars.
There was a time where Jorge saw people throwing away food and he asked them if he could have the food instead of throwing it away. This is how Jorge Muñoz started delivering hot meals since 2004. He says that the most important thing that inspired him to do this is that his mom taught him to share since he was a child. Everybody that lives with him helps him to cook. “This is not a house anymore, it’s a storage,” Jorge Muñoz says.
This was one of my goals in life: to help people out by giving them food or something else. But Jorge Muñoz is already doing it and I am proud that he has worried about homeless people, but this doesn’t mean I have to stop my dream. In fact this inspires me to help him in the future.
Jeovanni from Omaha, one our MY HERO guests, wrote about a community hero named Jorge Muñoz. He explained how Muñoz has taken money out of his own pocket to help people in need. The act alone of donating food is worthy enough of giving someone the label of a hero because his or her good acts are helping our world. Muñoz has gone a step further with his service being that he cooks the food and serves it to the people around his community, with nothing to benefit him other than the self-satisfaction of knowing he is saving lives and helping humanity.
|Jorge Muñoz receiving the Presidential Citizens Award (CNN)|
Sadly, unemployed and homeless men and women are located all over our entire country. Most of them have limited resources and sometimes go days without a nice, hot meal. Fortunately, for some of the unemployed and homeless, living in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, Jorge Muñoz has made it his mission to help those in need. Every day, at around 9:30 PM, a white pick-up truck comes as relief. It is Jorge Muñoz’s white pick-up truck filled with hot food, coffee, and hot chocolate. The people waiting for him there eagerly accept the food Muñoz has brought for them and they eat it on the spot. For some of these people, it is the first hot meal of the day, for others, it is the first hot meal in days.
It has been more than four years since this started and Muñoz and his family have been doing this 7 days a week, 365 days a year during a time when food shelters are struggling. His deed of love has been more helpful than ever and he does it with such joy and passion that it inspires anyone around him.
"When I see these guys on the street," he says, "it's like seeing me, 20-something years ago when I came to this country."
Muñoz began this revolutionary meal program in 2004, which is now his non-profit organization, An Angel in Queens. At first, Muñoz started the meal program by getting leftover food from local businesses and restaurants and handing them out in brown lunch bags. But as the time passed, Muñoz and his mother began making home-cooked meals for the people. It began at about 20 meals a night, then it went to 35, then 60 per night, and in recent months, the number has jumped to 160 home-cooked meals per night.
|Muñoz preparing hot meals to go hand out (Huffington Post)|
The Muñoz family already has their daily routine to prepare for their food delivery. Their house is filled with the stuff needed for the everyday meals and the whole process consumes most of Jorge’s life.
Daily operations now run like a well-oiled machine. Munoz gets up around 5:00 a.m. to drive his bus route, and he calls home on his breaks to see how the cooking is going. When he gets home around 5:30 p.m. -- often stopping to pick up food donations -- he helps pack up meals before heading out to "his corner" in Jackson Heights. [CNN]
"He comes here without fail," says one of the men. "It could be cold, it could be really hot, but he's here." [CNN]
Delivering food for the unemployed and homeless takes up most of Muñoz’s time, and on the weekends, he evens makes breakfast for the men and ham and cheese sandwiches on Sundays, which is his “day off”. His schedule is hectic but Muñoz never complains because he knows how important his meals are for the people.
"If I don't go, I'm going to feel bad," he says. "I know they're going to be waiting for me." [CNN]
With the economy at a struggle, it is becoming more and more difficult for Muñoz to find resources to help everyone. Donations are becoming tougher to come across and the demand for his meals has been increasing. But even with all the obstacles, Muñoz is determined to find a way to fulfill everyone’s needs.
Muñoz mentions that weekly costs for his meal delivery, including food and gas, is about $400-$450 which he and his family fund through their savings and his weekly $700 paycheck.
|Jorge Muñoz handing out food at "his corner" (NY Daily News)|
Asked why he spends so much time to help people he doesn't know, he answers, "I have a stable job, my mom, my family, a house... everything I want, I have. And these guys [don't]. So I just think, 'OK, I have the food.' At least for today they're going to have a meal to eat." [CNN]
Looking at a man that sacrifices so much for the benefit of others is truly an inspiration. Not only is he putting in his time and money, but he does it with such a positive attitude and with great pleasure. It is amazing to see that one man, along with his family, can make such a huge impact in a community and they do it for the sheer pleasure of helping others. Jorge Muñoz fits the characteristic of a hero in so many ways that it is of great honor to be able to write about him. He fought through his father’s death, came to the United States, and made a living for him and his family. He is a motivation for the Hispanic community and will always be recognized for his act of kindness, and for that, Jorge Muñoz is my hero!