Armando refuses to let his age be an excuse to avoid working hard. At 79 years old, he has the strong and peaceful presence of a man who chooses to focus on the things that God has given him. “I wake up every day, and all I want to do is to work,” Armando confessed again and again. “As long as I have two good hands, I want to put them to work.”
In 1979, he and his family decided to leave their home in Cuba to find a better life in the United States. Armando left his job as a bus driver to provide more opportunities for his wife and seven children. While trying to find work, Armando heard that Philadelphia was a place with a diverse job market. Once in Philadelphia, Armando found a job quickly. He worked for a cable company, Coca-Cola, and even built refrigerators at one point. He approached each job with honest determination and an unwavering work ethic.
Armando’s life completely changed in the summer of 2019 when his wife passed away. Sadly, this tragedy created a great deal of strain between Armando and his children. Armando became homeless when he was 77. He had nowhere to go.
Armando came to Sunday Breakfast Rescue Mission when someone told him that it was a place where he could stay for a while. The staff welcomed him warmly in June 2019. Motivated by his desire to work, he began waking up early each morning to volunteer to pick up the litter on 13th and Pearl Streets around the Mission. Soon after, he started serving in the kitchen.
Armando has grown in his faith while living at the Mission. Eddie, a former Sunday Breakfast resident, became friends with Armando and he began sharing his faith with Armando. “When I first got to the Mission, Eddie kept inviting me to church. I kept telling him, no, but he kept inviting me. Eventually, I went to church with him, and I found God there. I have a strong relationship with God now.”
God is sustaining Armando and providing him with contentment. He wants to have an apartment. His age limits his ability to find work. His limited income combined with the lack of affordable housing makes transitioning into his own home dubious. This is the reality for many seniors experiencing homelessness.
Armando is one of three residents in the Mission’s new SENIOR LEVEL permanent housing program for men 65 and older. This program is an innovative approach to preventing homelessness for vulnerable seniors by ensuring they always have a permanent place to call home. SENIOR LEVEL focuses on addressing the cycle of homelessness through programming and healthy relationships that provide safe, stable structured, and sober living arrangements at the Mission.
As a senior, having a safe, stable, place to call home has been essential for Armando during the COVID-19 crisis. He has been able to “stay-at-home” with his Mission family who has ensured that Armando has remained in good health throughout the pandemic. “I know that the donors take care of us. They provide for anything I need,” Armando continues with quiet tears, “I want people to know I believe in God, and I have a big heart.”
Armando works each day diligently to give back to Sunday Breakfast because the Mission is his home and this community is his family. And your financial gifts support many more seniors like Armando.