HomeTRP NewsWhen Harry met Casa Maravilla

When Harry met Casa Maravilla

by Alex Morales
Published: November 14, 2011

Happiness naturally follows through giving and sharing, but Harry’s pathway to happiness was interrupted by obstacles that forced him to make life-changing decisions.  Born in New York’s Spanish Harlem in 1953 to Puerto Rican immigrant parents Harry has been a dedicated community volunteer since he was a teen and through his studies at Princeton University. After graduating from college he continued serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in South Korea and later as a Peace Corps recruiter in Chicago in 1981.

Chicago offered him a chance to be civically engaged by working and volunteering in the Latino community at different local non-profit organizations where he taught English as a Second Language. Life was rewarding, productive and stable until Harry’s health began to decay.
Harry was diagnosed as HIV positive and had to confront the fact that his life would dramatically change . He suffered from strong physical pains that sometimes left him unable to move. Regardless of his health condition, Harry’s social conscience and altruistic spirit provided him the strength to continue teaching English and improving his beloved Latino community.
Unfortunately, as his health condition worsened, he was forced to retire at the early age of 42. Not planning to retire so early, he had to face the fact that he needed a plan to survive with little savings, his meager income from Social Security, and a little help from his sister.  With  monthly rent and medical expenses, his weekly budget for food and other needs was a measly $15.00. Such economic difficulties had Harry bound to his dilapidated apartment. He didn’t have the funds for a deposit on a better apartment. With his arthritis-swollen hands, it became difficult for him to perform simple tasks, like opening the elevator gate. To make matters worse he experienced problems breathing. He had to submit to a tracheotomy, a life saving procedure in which a hole is created in the trachea and a tube is inserted through it which bypasses the upper respiratory tract. Harry was ready for a change.
As he watched Univision’s local coverage of Casa Maravilla’s grand opening ceremony, he quickly dialed The Resurrection Project telephone number. Harry applied for an apartment and became a tenant soon after.  Harry’s life improved because his housing costs decreased. With quality housing, Harry now lived in dignity. His stress decreased and now he is on a path to happiness and sharing his skills for the betterment of our community. Nowadays he feels inspired by the difference he makes in building community and sharing his talents as a Spanish and English teacher. He frequently volunteers at actions like The Resurrection Project’s Home Rescue Fairs and is the editor of Noticias Maravillosas, the first bilingual senior newspaper currently distributed at Casa Maravilla.