Jorge Munoz, a school bus driver, delivers free hot meals to hungry people in Queens, New York
A hero is a person who helps, supports and worries about people or things; someone who has the courage to do something very special and unique that other people normally don’t do. A school bus driver Jorge Munoz, the founder of the non-profit organization An Angel in Queens Foundation, is one such real life hero who delivers free home-cooked meals to hundreds of hungry people in Queens, New York.
Jorge Munoz grew up in a humble home where he learned to share his limited food and resources with those around him. When Jorge was in his late teens, his father died in an accident outside a coffee factory. When his mother found it difficult to support Munoz and his sister, she made her way to New York to find a job in Brooklyn. Jorge Munoz followed her and landed in United States in the 1980s.
Jorge Munoz obtained legal residency in 1987 and later became a citizen, along with his mother and sister. He started working as a bus driver in a school. For nearly two decades, Jorge Munoz life was like an average working-class American; waking up early to head off to work and coming back to home in the evening. But one evening, Jorge Munoz thought to chat with some of the men who had gathered under the raised train tracks in Queens.
Most of the men were day laborers who wait for a chance to earn a bit of money for a few hours of grueling labor. They stand in the chilly rain of winter and also in the blistering heat of summer for the chance to make enough money to survive in the States and support their impoverished families abroad. Sometimes, they have even nothing to eat. When Jorge heard their stories of struggle and survival, he was totally touched and decided to help them out.
Jorge Munoz began by packing about eight brown lunch bags with a piece of fruit and other food items that he would drop off after the work. Initially he was distributing free meals for three nights a week. Then, one afternoon while driving his bus route he noticed that a local food factory was throwing away much of their leftover food. Jorge Munoz approached the factory and asked them if he could use the extra food to feed the needy instead, and the factory agreed. Jorge started collecting the leftovers and handed out brown bag lunches to underprivileged men. As time passed by, his mother and sister, and some friends joined him in his endeavor and then Jorge Munoz started distributing the food on a daily basis. Jorge Munoz invests a large part of his salary to support his philanthropic activities and sometimes receives donations from third parties
What unites these citizens, what makes them special – is the determination they share to find a wrong and right it; to see a need and meet it; to recognize when others are suffering and take it upon themselves to make a difference. – President Obama when talking about Jorge and other community heroes.
In 2009, Jorge Munoz was awarded as one of the CNN Heroes for his philanthropic labour. On August 4, 2010, Munoz was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Barack Obama, the second highest civilian honor in the United States. Moreover, in 2012 Munoz was presented the Order of the Congress of Colombia in the Degree of Knight by the Senate of Colombia. In 2006, Munoz directed his efforts into the foundation of the ‘An Angel in Queens Foundation’, a non-profit institution that targets the problem of hunger in the less privileged, in the city of New York.
Jorge Munoz is the real life hero of Queens. Jorge’s humble efforts and his heroic commitment to feed his needy neighbors has now impacted thousands. It is amazing to see that one man, along with his family can make such a huge impact in a community. Looking at a man, who sacrificed so much in order to help others, is truly an inspiration.
Want to get involved? Check out An Angel in Queens and see how to help.