CHICAGO (CBS) — So many families are struggling during the coronavirus pandemic, and when neighbors in one Southwest Side community learned about a senior’s trouble, they stepped in – in a huge way.
As CBS 2’s Jermont Terry reported, you will find Cruz Gamboa pushing a stroller near 59th Street and St. Louis Avenue just about any day in Chicago Lawn.
“They’ll probably see him, ‘Like hey, this guy might be homeless; he might not, you know, have place to be,’” said community activist Eddie Guillen.
But that is not the case. Gamboa, 83, checks recycle bins and collects aluminum cans so he and his wife of 65 years can stay in their home.
“They have a mortgage to pay. They’re always short on it,” said Jose Jurado.
Jurado lives in the neighborhood. After stopping Gamboa one day, he now knows why Gamboa walks the path he does.
“What really got me in the bottom of my heart is when he was telling me the struggles that he’s going through right now,” Jurado said.
Gamboa’s wife is on dialysis for kidney problems.
“And also, he has a daughter that has a son with brain medical problems,” Jurado said.
And the mortgage, medical, and food bills are adding up for Gamboa, who is on a fixed income.
“He’s doing anything he can to be able to bring food to the table,” Jurado said.
So Jurado decided to do more than just have pity.
“Even though we’re going through this pandemic, I want the community share the voice – and said, you know what? Let’s get all together. Let’s help somebody out that is in the need,” he said.
Jurado’s wife suggested setting up a GoFundMe for the family.
“In the matter of a day, we raised a thousand dollars,” he said.
That is enough to cover the mortgage for now. And as the word spreads out about seniors walking the alleys, the neighboring Chicago Lawn community is stepping in too.
It is planning to establish an old-school lemonade stand.
“We’re trying to inspire all the families to use the lemonade stand to really make an impact and plant seeds in the community and to help out as many as we can, and this is great way to help out the Gamboa family,” Guillen said.
When Mr. Gamboa found out about the community efforts, he was overjoyed.
“He’s basically beyond grateful for Jose and his family putting this together and seeing this community is coming together,” Guillen said.
And a community has made sure its elders can truly be Chicago proud.
The lemonade and orchata stand will be up this coming Sunday, Sept. 5, from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at 4324 W. 63rd St. Visitors can take pictures with the Minions there.
All the proceeds will go to the Gamboa family.