Zair Gonzalez at the Latino Task Force food and essential service hub on Alabama Street where he has been working for the past year. Photo by Clara-Sophia Daly.

Zair Gonzalez, 25, began working for the Latino Task Force in April 2020,  just two weeks after it began giving out food and offering face-to-face social service resources. At first, Gonzalez’s job was to bring food to people waiting in line, and to help people get up to the second floor for social services appointments. Nowadays, he splits his time between the Alabama Street location and the new hub in the Excelsior. 

One woman who left a big impression on him was an immigrant from Africa. She immigrated when she was young and was living by herself, Zair explained one afternoon at the Alabama site. He said the woman had less than a couple hundred dollars to her name, and was living in a room the size of the space underneath your bed, in a church somewhere in the Mission. 

“Her story really kind of got to me, and I really wanted to help. Fortunately, we were able to get her some money, hook her up with a solid food box, and eventually help her find work,” he said. She didn’t have a kitchen, so she could only take canned goods and fruit, which she could store and snack on.

Hergratitude really struck Gonzalez. He said she took his and other essential workers at the hub’s phone numbers, and has called them multiple times to thank them for their assistance. He’s always happy to see her when she comes by for food every few weeks.

“I was able to see a difference from a person being at their lowest to being in a way better place. And being able to be a part of it was the cherry on top for me,” he said. 

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Clara-Sophia Daly is a multimedia storyteller and reporter who has worked both in print and audio. A graduate of Skidmore College where she studied International Affairs and Media/Film studies, she enjoys working at the intersection of art and politics, and focusing on the stories of individuals to reveal larger themes.

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