Voice of a Volunteer: Alex
Alex started to volunteer on a weekly basis at Holy Apostles Soup Kitchen in 2012, “after I had lost everything all in one year: my mom, my apartment, my job.”
While grieving his mother’s passing, and being forced to make severe cut-backs to his own quality of life, Alex knew he would have to find ways to cope with the losses in his life.
“I had to start over from the bottom,” Alex says. “Volunteering was something that I’d always wanted to do, and this was my chance to do it.”
A graduate from Rutgers University with a Bachelors in Marketing, Alex had enjoyed a successful eighteen year career in the wholesale clothing industry, moving up from Sales Associate to Vice President before his company took a drastic hit after the recession and he lost his job.
“I had always worked, ever since high school,” he recalls. “After moving to New Jersey from Puerto Rico at the age of 14, not speaking a word of English, I worked my way through ESL classes and then I worked my way through college as a waiter and as a gas attendant, many times seven days a week.” During one point, between his classes and jobs, his days would start at 7 am and not end until 12 pm.
Despite having worked his whole adult life, Alex’s industry specific skills didn’t transfer easily in the post-recession corporate world where the competition remains fierce. So Alex continued to volunteer, because, “when I volunteer something is fulfilled in me, spiritually. The thought of helping the homeless completes me as a human being.”
He had heard about the resources our social services program offers our guests, but hadn’t thought to access them directly himself until one day, last year when he was talking to our manager for social services. “I was talking to Rich, and he gave me a listing of jobs. And you know what? The first job I went to I got!” Now, Alex is working for a catering company with good pay and scheduling flexibility. “It was here all along!” he says, “and I’m still able to volunteer here during the day since the hours are usually at night.”