Things That Matter

Paletero Is Gifted New Cart After Being Attacked And Robbed

Street vendors have been under attack at higher numbers during Covid. Videos on social media went viral showing paleteros being violently attacked to be robbed of their daily earnings. Bernardo Nuñez was one of those victimized street vendors but things just turned around.

Earlier this month, Bernardo Nuñez was attacked and robbed of his paletero cart.

Immediately, the community started to come together. A GoFundMe was started to help raise some money to help Nuñez recover from the attack. Like other street vendors, he relies heavily on his cart to make money and provide for his family.

“Last Saturday July  11th,  while in #Longbeach they stole Bernardo’s Ice cream bike cart. At 53rd St and Long Beach Blvd in front of the @99centsonly store. He went inside to buy some napkins,” reads the GoFundMe. “When he came back out the Cart was gone.  Let’s Team up and Buy him a Bike ice Cream cart, a push cart is too hard for him to push around all day, he’s 66 years old. Bernardo has a @gofundme so we can help him replace his stolen bike ice cream cart and assist him to get back on his feet. He has no family he’s all on his own, let’s take care of him like he is our Family. #defendpaleteros”

Two weeks later, Nuñez is being taken care of by his community.

Credit: GoFundMe

The GoFundMe, created by Tito Rodriguez, for Nuñez raised more than $10,000, which would more than replace a cart and bike. The money came pouring in from people around the country who want to help those in need. After all, we all love and support our street vendors because they always take care of us.

There is also a non-profit, co-founded by Rodriguez, that stepped up to really give Nuñez a chance to start again.

The Local Hearts Foundation heard of Nuñez’s loss and they sprang to action. The group managed to raise the money to buy Nuñez a brand new paletero cart. Between Rodriguez’s GoFundMe and the non-profit, Nuñez received a new cart and the $10,000.

“We let him know, ‘Listen, this isn’t us. This is the community; over 300 people who pledged to help you. Understand that your contribution of working hard does not go unnoticed,'” HJ Chong, the other co-founder of Local Hearts Foundation, told ABC 7.

READ: Community Rallies Behind A Paletero Who Was Beat Up And Robbed Of His $70

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

mitúCares: Leslie Gonzalez of Latinx En Medicina Wins Grant To Help Her Mission

Things That Matter

mitúCares: Leslie Gonzalez of Latinx En Medicina Wins Grant To Help Her Mission

latinxenmedicina / Instagram

Our community does better when we all work together. As such, mitú wants to help people uplifting our communities. We asked all of you to nominate people that were doing the work and mitú is proud to announce Latinx en Medicina as one of two winners of the mitúCares grant program.

Latinx en Medicina is more than a social media page, it is an important place for Latinx healthcare workers to connect.

Leslie Gonzalez is a fourth-year medical student and has spent her academic career feeling like the only one. She often walked into classrooms and was the only Latina in the room from her masters programs through medical school. This inspired her to create Latinx en Medicina.

Gonzalez, who grew up in the San Fernando Valley, went to California State University, Northridge for her undergraduate degree. She admits that during that time she felt isolated because there just weren’t any mentors who helped her along the way. She loved her experience but walking into a class for her pre-med degree and seeing no one that looked like her took a toll on her.

Getting into medical school was something much harder than she expected and wished she had a community to ask for advice.

“Applying to medical school is a whole different kind of challenge in its own. I didn’t really have mentors who looked like me,” Gonzalez says. “I don’t recall seeing a doctor who looked like me, that was Latina or Latino or Latinx. At the moment, I didn’t really understand that, until I got into med school. I applied to medical school and I didn’t get in. The first time that I applied, I didn’t get in. It’s very common not to get in the first time that you apply but I didn’t know that because I didn’t have a community to talk about this with.”

Fortunately, a pre-med counselor pointed her in the direction of a master’s program. It quickly became two master’s degrees before she was comfortable enough to apply to medical school for a second time. This time, she was accepted and what awaited her was less representation that looked like her.

Gonzalez said that in her first-year class of 200 to 220 students, 6 percent of the students identified as Latinx. She knew that it was a problem that had to be addressed. People should be able to find mentors in their fields that understand them on a cultural level, someone who could help her navigate her nagging imposter syndrome.

“I went through the motions of med school,” Gonzalez recalls. “Again, I didn’t really have a mentor who looked like me. I didn’t really have somebody to look up to. Again, I felt like I had to do the most just to prove my worth in med school because of that imposter syndrome. I didn’t know it at the moment but that was exactly what I was experiencing, the imposter syndrome.”

Gonzalez created Latinx en Medicina to create a place for people to finally connect and network.

Latinx en Medicina is all about helping Latinx healthcare professionals connect with each other like never before. Gonzalez wanted a place for any and all people who work in healthcare to have a place to network and create an online community. She remembers receiving so many messages from young Latinx people in school and starting their healthcare careers reaching out to her for advice. After a while, it got to be too much to handle on her own so she wanted to start connecting people to one another.

“Essentially, I was acting as the older sister in pointing them in the right direction. But, I am one person,” Gonzalez says. “I can only handle so many messages in my DMs. On top of that, I’m still in school, I still have that schedule. The thing that I came up with … [was to] build a community that was separate from my personal social media platform [to] build its own community.”

Another important function of Latinx en Medicina is to connect healthcare providers with patients who are Latinx. Gonzalez watched how much being able to connect with patients in their language meant to them.

Gonzalez remembers being able to talk to one young patient in Spanish and the impact it had on her then. She visited a young Spanish-speaking patient and asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. The patient said she wanted to be a doctor so Gonzalez let her wear her stethoscope and reaffirmed that she can be a doctor if she wanted to.

Moments like that, according to Gonzalez, are some of the most touching and rewarding parts of the job. Moving forward, that young girl will remember the time the doctora encouraged her to do the same.

Congratulations, Leslie! Thank you for creating a place in the medical world for our community.

READ: This Beauty Pageant Queen Is Trading Her Crown For Her Doctor Scrubs To Help Tackle Coronavirus Pandemic

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

Things That Matter

This Latino In His Sixties Spent Half Of His Life Behind Bars, Now He’s Graduating College With Honors

Photo via Facebook/Miguel de la Rosa

Once in a while, a story comes along that makes you realize that the phrase “you can do anything you put your mind to”, isn’t just an old cliche. One California Latino man proved that the phrase has some truth behind it.

62-year-old Joseph Valadez just graduated with honors from Cal State Long Beach after spending the half of his adult life behind bars.

Valadez’s story went viral when one of his fellow students tweeted about the California Latino man’s incredible story. “This man accomplished something incredible AND took the coldest pic of 2021,” said that caption.

The post is a screenshot of a Facebook post Valadez wrote, accompanied by some stunning graduation photos of the 62-year-old.

“I finished my last two semester at Long Beach on the ‘President’s Honor List’ for making straight As,” wrote Valadez on the CSULB alumni Facebook group. “Was also on the Dean’s List with a GPA of 3.67. Not bad for someone who spent half his adult life in prison.”

“There’s a misconception about guys like me that I want to break,” he added. “If I can do it, anyone can.”

Since the picture went viral, Valadez opened up about the journey that took him from rock bottom to where he is now.

Like many people in the prison system, addiction fueled Valadez’s life of crime. In an interview with Long Beach Post, he revealed that he began using heroine when he first joined the army at the age of 18.

“All the crimes I did were related to trying to get drugs, selling drugs,” the California Latino man told the Long Beach Post. He would spend 38 years of his life battling addiction.

After that, his life spiraled into a cycle of addiction, homelessness, violence, and crime. In total, Valadez has been to prison 40 times. He has spent more than 30 years behind bars.

Valadez finally decided to change his life in his 50s, when he realized that if he kept living this way, he would die soon.

In 2013, Valadez checked into an adult rehab facility. He stayed there for a year while he got clean. Soon after, he enrolled in Orange Coast Community College before ultimately transferring to Cal State Long Beach. In total, it took six years of challenging coursework for him to graduate. But from the look of pride in Valadez’s face, it was worth it.

Throughout his journey in the educational system, however, Valadez has discovered all the ways that the system failed him. Despite getting good grades in high school, teachers didn’t suggest college as an option for him. Instead, they suggested he pursue landscaping or construction. Similarly, when Valadez bounced in and out of jail due to his addiction, no one ever suggested rehab as a way for him to break the cycle.

Now, Valadez wants to take the lessons he learned and give back to his community.

At CSULB, Valadez excelled in sociology, and was interested in exploring how the criminal justice system is set up to target people of color. “I know a little bit about that subject because I lived it,” he said. “I wanted to understand the ‘why?’.” As of now, he is waiting to see if he gets accepted into CSULB’s Social Work masters program.

Valadez wants to use his new degree to help young kids who are at-risk of being failed by the system, like he was. “I’m going to inspire somebody, I’m going to motivate somebody, I’m going to give somebody hope,” he said. “That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com