Meet a real-life angel: Jorge Munoz

WHO: Jorge Munoz, a real-life angel.

Throughout my broadcast career, I’ve met politicians, celebrities and people who have been on the front page of newspapers and magazines. But Jorge Munoz tops the list of people I’ve had the honor of meeting. My eyes welled up with tears as I interviewed him and during the production of this video. It seems this story has resonated with our audience, as well. It’s the most-viewed video on GoInspireGo.com.

WHAT:

By day, Jorge is a New York City school bus driver. By night, he’s known as the Angel in Queens.

Since 2004, Jorge has been cooking meals from his apartment and giving them out to about 150 people for free outside a subway station in Jackson Heights, N.Y., every night. No strings attached.

It all began one day during a school bus route, when he noticed employees throwing away food at a food factory. He turned another corner and saw many hungry people begging for food and digging through a garbage can. He asked them if he could take the food to give to the hungry people. He started to give food to a couple of people, but because of the down economy at the time, he said the number of people quickly grew to more than 150 people a night. He started using his own money to buy groceries.

Even though he makes only $700 a week, he generously dedicates more than half his salary to buying groceries and packaging home-cooked meals for the needy. Why does he do this?

“God and my Mom, [they] teach me to share… You have to see their faces. When they smile, that’s the way I get paid. When they smile — ‘Thanks, God,’ this guy got something to eat tonight,” he said with a sparkle in his eye.

Grab a tissue and watch part one… (and hold on for part two, where we surprised him big time!):

Jorge said he still feels bad he missed one day of delivering food during all his years because a snowstorm shut down all lines of transportation.

THE RIPPLES:

After the first story aired, I received hundreds of emails. TV stations (as well as ABC’s Good Morning America), radio stations and bloggers shared his message. Strangers asked what they could do to help. Financial and physical support poured in.

I think Jorge’s generosity and kindness struck a chord with people because of his authenticity. He’s not rich financially, but he is rich in love. The Spungen family in Deerfield, Ill., contacted me after hearing his story and wanted to surprise him. So we flew out to his home to surprise him with a new refrigerator and stove. We captured the moment in this stirring video:

The folks at Len Harris Appliances, where the Spungens purchased Jorge’s gifts, were so moved by what he’s doing, they threw in delivery, setup and recycling of the old appliances. The owners of Len Harris also surprised him with a new microwave.

Our story also touched Birju Pandaya and Shephali Patel, volunteers for ServiceSpace.org, who found out about our special delivery and joined us during the surprise. They wanted to help Jorge and his family cook and package meals that day.

His work has even attracted the attention of the White House. He received the Presidential Citizen’s Medal in 2010.

TAKE ACTION:

Volunteer at or donate to a food pantry or soup kitchen, particularly in the summer months when volunteers and donations are lower compared to the holiday season. Also, with kids out of school where they normally get free or discounted lunches, there is an increased need for help.

Start a food program in your community. Jorge said another group of people in Queens replicated his project and deliver brunch to the hungry on weekends.

Jorge is a testament to the fact that no matter who you are or how much money you make, you can make someone’s life better. It just takes the intent and a small action. We want to know what you’re doing to make the world a more beautiful place.

Onward,
Toan

P.S. Special thanks to Terrie Crowley and Sarah Mirza for tipping me off to this story.

More Info:

‘Surprise!’ an Angel in Queens, NY, Follow-Up — the Gift that Keeps on Giving

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