At the start of the pandemic, Jose Jimenez* lost his job when the hotel where he worked shut down.
Unable to pay rent, his landlord evicted him. He sent his wife and daughters to stay with relatives and friends as the spiraling situation forced him into couch-surfing and practically living in his car. He had left his native Dominican Republic hunting the American Dream, but found a nightmare.
Alone and desperate, he repeated to himself:
Jimenez saw his fortunes improve with the arrival of Arthur Nicolas, a genial 26-year-old case manager for the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. The committee’s Raleigh-based North Carolina office, supported by a $140,000 grant from the Endowment, assists immigrants and refugees whose already fragile circumstances were further destabilized by the pandemic.
Nicolas tried to get him a new apartment, but encountered rejection after rejection until finally, after five months, he persuaded a landlord to take a chance on Jimenez. It turned the tide, allowing Jimenez to bring his family home to a small, tidy Raleigh apartment.
Jimenez’s persistence landed him a new job delivering packages for FedEx®. He makes good money, more than the hotel job paid. During one particularly good week in December, he delivered so many packages that it drove his pay-per-delivery earnings up to $2,000. The family just signed a new one-year lease on the apartment and Jimenez is eyeing his next goal: home ownership.
“I feel like I’ve made it all the way back,” he says, nodding. “Yes. Yes I have. Thank God.”
Nicolas calls it the best comeback story he’s ever heard. “No matter what I go on to do in the future, their family has taught me that no matter what life throws at you, you must always push forward, and always hold onto the idea of hope.”
I FEEL LIKE I’VE MADE IT ALL THE WAY BACK. YES. YES I HAVE. THANK GOD.
Photo Credit: Aura Marzouk
*Jimenez has permanent legal status, but his real name is being withheld to protect his family’s privacy.
See more stories of individuals who are overcoming the new and evolving challenges of COVID-19 to serve and strengthen their communities.