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Friday, May 17, 2024

‘To give up is not in my vocabulary:’ Lynn Food Pantry Client Seeks Better Life for His Family

Every week, Dietmar Garcia Perez walks from Catholic Charities Lynn Food Pantry to the single bedroom he rents in an apartment in Central Lynn, carrying a bag of food that he hopes will last him throughout the week.

Dietmar said the two-mile walk home does not bother him, reminding him of his life back in Cuba.

“In Cuba, we walked everywhere,” he said.

In November 2023, Dietmar and his adult nephew courageously decided to leave their native country of Cuba to seek a better life for themselves and their families in the United States.

A longtime attorney, Dietmar found himself unable to continue working in his country due to the Cuban government cracking down on a ban against the private practice of law.

“I not only lost my job but was suddenly at risk of imprisonment,” he said.

Determined to protect his rights and obtain a steady income for his family, Dietmar made the journey to the U.S., where he found himself in Lynn, thousands of miles away from his two beloved daughters and life as he knew it. Weeks later, a Cuban acquaintance who lived in Boston suggested he reach out to Catholic Charities.

From the very first day that Dietmar connected with Basic Needs Case Manager Yuri Sanchez, he says he has felt supported. “That changed everything,” he said. “I was blessed to find Yuri and receive guidance from her.”

Yuri immediately connected him to the Lynn Food Pantry and began working with Catholic Charities’ Refugee and Immigrant Services Department to help Dietmar apply for financial assistance from the Massachusetts Refugee Resettlement Program.

“Having the food pantry available every week helps my budget to be able to stretch it and live from that assistance,” said Dietmar. “I am very grateful that I have been able to figure things out.”

Dietmar is currently on a waiting list for Catholic Charities North’s ESOL program and says he is looking forward to improving his English so that he can eventually secure full-time employment.

In the meantime, Dietmar has kept busy, volunteering at a local agency that assists Cuban migrants with the asylum application process – a role that he says allows him to use his legal experience and help others in his shoes.

“When I came to the border, I saw what people go through,” he said. “I want to help ease the stress that migrants face.”

While Dietmar’s path has not been easy, he says he is willing to do whatever it takes to support his family, who he speaks to on the phone every day.

“I have the most important thing in my life back in Cuba – my daughters and my mom…waiting for me to provide,” said Dietmar. “To surrender and give up is not in my vocabulary. It’s not something I am willing to do.”

To learn how you can help Dietmar and other Catholic Charities’ clients, visit our Ways to Give page.

To learn more about the Lynn Food Pantry, and Catholic Charities’ food assistance services, click here.

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