Relationship: Child of im/migrant
My dad, my mom, and my older brother
My dad, my mom, and my older brother

My father, Juan Castor Lopez, lived by the philosophy: “Reach for the stars but always remember to look back and help others reach for the stars too.” He immigrated to America from Cuba in 1959 when he was 16 without completing high school. Despite the hardships of being Cuban and considered “uneducated,” he was able to open a bodega while trying to become an American citizen. What made him different from other business owners was his generosity and willingness to help everyone he served. The bodega was in Jamaica, Queens on 149th Street. He utilized the bodega to create a sense of camaraderie and trust within the community through his compassionate nature and actions whether it was lowering the price of an item for a friend or going to someone’s house to help with a task. When I was younger, those whom my father helped looked after me and taught me how to stay out of trouble. To this day, many people in that community still recognize me because they remember the kindness of my father. Even after his passing in May 2003, everyone my father had touched with his kindred spirit, continued to give my family and me that same sense of belonging and care to this day. My father’s giving personality ignited and motivated me to devote my own life to a career in social work, politics and policy making. Following the lead of my father, I want to provide positive change that our communities need. Through this, my father’s legacy of giving back to those who need it lives on.

Place(s): Queens, NY, Cuba
Year: 1959

– Edgar Lopez told by: Jacqueline Campbell, Jesse Cohen-Lindfors, Kelly Pagniello, and Max Kurant

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant