Thursday, November 19, 2009

Editorial: The Angel of Queens

In recent weeks, this newspaper and most others encouraged our readers to vote. Unexpectedly, we call on them to do so again this week. But this election is not the same as those for mayor, council or state office.

This election will not see voters forced between the lesser of two evils nor will there be any conflict from party affiliation. This is an election from within a totally opposed spectrum. This is an election where voters cannot make a wrong choice. One in which whomever they choose is thrilling for everyone.

In recent weeks, voters, roughly two-and-a-half million of them as of press time, have been flocking to the CNN website and logging on to read about the network’s upcoming All-Star Heroes tribute which honors ordinary people that have an extraordinary impact in the world. The awards ceremony will be televised on Thanksgiving night and the 2009 Hero will be announced. The hero with the most votes will be awarded a $100,000 prize.

This week The Forum traveled to the corner of Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd street to witness the impact that one of the nominees is having by feeding the hungry, homeless and indigent population of day laborers and illegal immigrants that congregate there, in the shadows of an elevated train station. Their struggle has been greatly lessened over the past five and a half years by 47-year-old Woodhaven resident, Jorge Munoz.

By next week he will know whether he got the most votes and the prize money, which he has already spent in his mind. That amount of money will feed his “street family” for the next five years. When Munoz tells you of his plans for the money you know you are witnessing somewhat of a phenomenon. Before you stands a man, who is telling you, at the most troubled financial time this country has faced in the last 90 years, about how he hopes to come into a giant windfall and use it solely for the benefit of other people.

Since he started in 2004, Jorge Munoz has served more than 90,000 meals. It has been almost two thousand days since he began feeding anyone who wants to eat—he missed serving meals only once when a snowstorm shut down the city.

Jorge is among nine others in the Heroes Award competition. We urge you to visit the CNN website and take the opportunity to vote - for him. Each of those nominated are strong, selfless human beings. They are motivated by compassion and understanding; driven by an unrelenting desire to help, to nurture and to offer goodness where there is none. They all have amazing stories, but having spent just two and a half hours on the street with Jorge Munoz, there is no doubt that he is deserving of a vote.

There is something so large about this gentle man of small stature. It is his connection with the people that he feeds every day. It is the way he remembers every face on the line - no one gets seconds until everyone gets firsts. It is the way he reveres and credits his God, yet still understands those who have lost their faith. It is the way he cherishes family; how he wants no one to be alone. It is the way he recalls stories of those who have gotten jobs and returned to volunteer or make a donation. Actually it is everything about Jorge Munoz.

So if you would make the time to vote for Jorge, we think you’d be doing a little part of helping in his very big work. But if you don’t get around to voting, maybe you could make the time to stop down to Roosevelt Avenue and 73rd around 9:45. To see what happens on that street corner is a blessing. Oh and by the way, it doesn’t matter what night you pick. The hungry will be there and so will Jorge Munoz.

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