Meet Fidencio Sanchez, an elderly paleta vendor from the Little Village area of Chicago who is still working hard after retirement age. Sanchez’s story became a trending topic on the Internet after Chicago local, Joel Cervantes Macias, shared a heart-wrenching image of the older man struggling to push his paleta cart.
“It broke my heart seeing this man that should be enjoying retirement still working at this age,” said Joel in a GoFundMe page he created for Sanchez. “I had to pull over and took this picture. I then bought 20 paletas and gave him a $50 and said may God bless him and drove away,” he added.
Joel initially posted the photo on Facebook, where he received a huge response. Immediately, he and a friend launched a GoFundMe page to help Sanchez and his wife.
“Mr. Fidencio Sanchez and his wife recently lost their only daughter and are still heartbroken about the situation. His elderly wife was selling paletas also to help pay bills, but she fell ill and can’t work anymore,” wrote Joel.
Sanchez’s story picked up so much traction, local news organizations came to interview him and his wife. Here they are talking about how they came to the U.S. from Mexico.
As Latinos, making it through higher education is never easy. For some, there is the stress of being the first in our families to attend college or just being able to afford school in general. That’s why it’s special every time we hear about a fellow Latino’s success in the classroom.
This applies to Amado Candelario, a Harvard freshman, who is proof of overcoming barriers and following your college dreams. The world was first introduced to him last December when he shared a “reaction video” on his YouTube channel showing the exact moment he found out he was accepted into Harvard. The emotional video quickly went viral with over 33K views to this date. For Candelario, who was raised by his immigrant mother from Mexico and two sisters in West Lawn, Chicago, Harvard was always his dream.
“There were a lot of tears shed because it’s a big thing for somebody like me, for the community that I come from, to get accepted to a prestigious university like Harvard. For that, I’m grateful,” Candelario told 7NewsBoston after his video went viral.
First, let’s rewatch Amado Candelario finding out he got accepted to Harvard.
Some people sacrifice so much to make sure they get into their dream school. There is nothing more exciting than watching that hard work pay off for someone who deserves it. The world collectively celebrated for Candelario when he found out he was going to be in the new class at Harvard.
Getting into Harvard was one thing but fast forward almost a year later and Candelario is getting well-deserved recognition once again.
For this young man, getting to college was reason enough to celebrate. Candelario came from one of the toughest neighborhoods in Chicago where going to college isn’t always the first choice for many. He sought higher education as a way to escape his circumstances and build a better future for himself and his family. Beyond just getting accepted to Harvard he also needed a way to pay for it. According to the school’s website, the total 2018-2019 cost of attending Harvard University without financial aid is $67,580 for tuition, room, board, and fees combined.
“I needed to figure out how to provide for myself and how I could give back to my mom and to my family that has done so much for me, and college seemed like the way to do that,” he told NBC News. “The only thing people ever talked about when you mentioned was how good it was and how it was the best post-secondary education you could get. I grew up in a lot of poverty and violence and I wanted something better for myself.”
His background and everything he overcame to be where he is has left a lasting impact.
Being one of the few low-income and first-generation students from Chicago in his graduating class has made Candelario a viral star once again. Few in his class to understand the magnitude of his achievement and now the world is taking notice.
“I’m the only kid at Harvard right now, class of 2023, that’s from Chicago and didn’t go to a selective enrollment school, a private school, a predominately affluent suburban school,” Candelario wrote in a tweet that has received more than 87,000 likes as of today. “I’m the only Chicago neighborhood school kid. It’s sad but I DID THAT and I’m proud of myself!!”
Candelario is defying statistics when it comes to Latinos getting into Harvard. He is one of only less than 16 percent of a total of 4.5 percent of accepted applicants that got into Harvard in 2019.
Getting to this point was never easy for him. Candelario attended Eric Solorio Academy High School, which was located on the Southwest Side of Chicago, a notoriously low-income area. It was there that he joined various programs that helped guide him through the college application process and was assisted with financial aid assistance.
The transition to college hasn’t been easy as well for Candelario. At times he feels like an outsider in a school where he’s one of very few that fully understand what it means to come to be a first-generation college student. These emotions have only fueled him to finish what is expected to be the first of many steps. While Candelario hasn’t declared an official concentration just yet, he told NBC News that he’s interested in pursuing political science and economics. He hopes with his education he can one day become a lawyer and help those that come from marginalized backgrounds.
“I feel like for kids who come from marginalized backgrounds, being realistic can limit them,” Candelario told NBC News. “I feel like you have to dream big and tell your intentions to the world. All of high school, even as a freshman, I told people I wanted to go to Harvard. I put it in my Instagram bio, even though I wasn’t accepted. There’s something powerful about manifesting and verbalizing what you want and telling yourself you are capable of that.”
Latinos from all over town in are stopping by a family-owned carniceria in Chicago’s historically Mexican neighborhood, Pilsen, and it’s for more than just tacos. A new series of murals, all featuring Tejana musical icon Selena have been erected as a joint collaboration by three Latinx who wanted to beautify and drive business to the area and have since called the street La Calle Selena.
“In Latin America, you have streets and paseos dedicated to people whether it was culturally or historically,” said organizer of La Calle and creative strategist, Mateo Zapata. “I wanted to bring that tradition and practice as well.
Onlookers of all ages are stopping by to take photos with the freshly-painted murals.
Quinceañeras, families and friends have stopped by the wall for their own picture with the singer-songwriter, lauding the art on social media with the natural geotag for Carnicera Maribel and the natural hashtag, #LaCalleSelena.
The art on the carniceria features Selena in her memorable Amor Prohibido cover outfit, sparkly purple jumpsuit and in her Grammy dress.
The paintings were all spray painted on brick.
Asend One, the artist, doesn’t typically work on pop culture icons, but when creative strategist Mateo Zapata approached him with the idea, he was all for it.
“What I wanted to bring with this mural is bring quality — not just a simple rendering of her,” said Asend, adding that he wanted spectators to “taste some Chicago Mexican food. Art is part of the culture and food is art too.”
Zapata used money from the nonprofit he founded, Inner City Culture, to commission the art in May and so began the process to complete five Selena murals across the street.
The mural was completed this August after about three months of work.
These Selena murals have attracted fans and created an influx of foot traffic and business for Carniceria Maribel.
Alejandro Banda, who is the incoming owner of the establishment and collaborated with Zapata on the inception of the project has noticed the increase of activity in this area since the mural was completed. His family business has been a part of the Pilsen community since the 1990s when his grandfather first opened the shop. The taqueria was a recent addition from just a few years back which Banda, who is in his mid-20s, has been managing.
“I grew up around the store,” Banda said. “It’s been the biggest part of my life and identity. You really get to get the sense of community at the store. Everyone comes around.
“At the heart of it, Carniceria Maribel really does know its meat and tacos. A taco al pastor y de asada and limonada you can get from the back is eaten at the no frills taqueria by the windows. (Photo Credit: Lyanne Alfaro)
Inside, you can purchase anything from your margarita mix to agua fresca to mouthwatering tacos al pastor.
Of course, the business would not be complete without a signature carniceria calendar hung on the wall as is typical to give to customers during the holiday season.
And while Carniceria Maribel may be receiving a healthy amount of business as of late, that is not the case for other small businesses in the area.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” Banda said. “But it’s still very disheartening to see a lot of friends and families I’ve known, move out of the neighborhood.”
The cost of living has risen in Pilsen, and the numbers for demographics show it. In the 1960s and 70s, Mexicans arrived in Pilsen in mass numbers. But in a decade alone from 2000 to 2010, the neighborhood lost more than 25 percent of its Latinx population, from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
There are also physical signs of Pilsen’s transformation like when a developer removed iconic cultural murals from the neighborhood’s historic Hispanic community center. Casa Aztlan was torn down to make room for new condos as reported by CityLab. Just last year, community members helped shut down a $52 tour spotlighting gentrification.
Zapata’s commissioned project is more than an art piece for the neighborhood, it’s a strategic way to combat gentrification, he says.
“Supporting your local business is a realistic (response to gentrification),” he said. “If people go to these corner stores instead of gentrified businesses, they will stay. I do think it could be an effective strategy to avoid displacement from our community.”
Meanwhile, Banda sees La Calle Selena as a way that Carniceria Maribel, an established family business is “adapting.”
He considers this crucial for small businesses to survive in addition to support from the local community.
“It gives us an opportunity to re-identify ourselves. It gives us an opportunity to change things up and make things better as a business,” he said.
Banda noted that having immigrants from Colombia and Venezuela as well as a Mexican family business participating in the project adds to the value of the project.
“The fulfillment I get from it has exceeded anything I could have imagined,” said Banda, “A project done by three Latinos of all different backgrounds.”
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