With so much troubling, worrying and negative news stories, I thought I would start a new tradition of finding positive articles, stories, or anecdotes that I would share with you to start the week. This story was shared on the Chicago Tribune (the link is attached at the end of the article). I have transcribed it here in case it gets removed by that webmaster at a future date.
Family buys all of a Chicago paletero’s ice pops on Father’s Day, collects nearly $40K for him: ‘He refuses to stop working’
Though he is almost 70, Rosario Del Real puts his back into his latest job, strolling through the streets of the East Side neighborhood of Chicago in his snakeskin cowboy boots, pushing a paleta cart while singing his favorite songs.
He wears his Western vaquero suit and his cowboy hat. Don Rosario, as his neighbors know him, also takes great pride in his pitted belt. It’s from Zacatecas, Mexico, his beloved hometown, he said.
On Wednesday, Don Rosario stopped selling his paletas, Mexican-style ice pops, for a few minutes and cried as he recalled the gift he got for Father’s Day this year: A local family bought all the paletas in his cart to allow him to go home early to enjoy the day.
The gesture was captured by one of the family and shared in a TikTok video. When that video went viral, being shared thousands of times across the mobile video platform, the family decided to set up a GoFundMe account that raised nearly $40,000 within a day to help Don Rosario fully retire from a long life of labor.
The chain of events started Father’s Day.
Don Rosario stopped by a home where Oscar Gonzalez and Victor Dominguez and their families were having a Father’s Day barbecue. The three men talked and bonded. And during that conversation, Gonzalez and Dominguez decided to buy all of Don Rosario’s paletas and send him home.
Rosario Del Real, 70, a paletero, talks with Michaelangelo Mosqueda at ice cream shop Las Tres Abejas in Chicago on June 24, 2020. Mosqueda and his girlfriend, Karen Gonzalez, set up a GoFundMe for Del Real after Gonzalez’s family members bought out his paleta cart on Father’s Day so he could enjoy the rest of the day. (Zbigniew Bzdak / Chicago Tribune)
When Michaelangelo Mosqueda, the boyfriend of Gonzalez’s daughter Karen Gonzalez, noticed the connection among the three men, he decided to record the TikTok video.
“He reminded them of their fathers,” said Karen Gonzalez, Both her father and her uncle, Victor, had lost their dads, “so talking to Don Rosario and learning of his background really touched them.”
Don Rosario had started selling paletas earlier this month after an injury made him unable to continue his carpentry work at home.
“I don’t like to sit at home doing nothing and without a purpose,” he said. “I have to thank God I’m still able to work, but I don’t have enough to ever be able to thank (the family) who have done this for me, it has made me so happy.”
He grabbed a tissue to wipe the tears from his eyes and gasped, still incredulous about the love and attention he has gotten this week.
“I don’t deserve this,” Don Rosario repeatedly said in Spanish.
How it all started
Don Rosario was born in a rural town in Zacatecas, Mexico. He immigrated to the United States in 1969, crossing the southern border a handful of times before becoming a citizen in 1979, he said.
“When I first decided to immigrate to the U.S., my only wish was that my family and I could eat once a day, at least,” Don Rosario said. “We were very poor.”
California was his first home. He picked fruits and vegetables for many years before working at ranches and other factories in Houston, Texas, and Oregon.
“I’ve had countless jobs,” Don Rosario said.
When he moved to Chicago, he established his family on the Southeast Side, where he was able to buy a home to raise his three children with the help of his wife. In 2015, Don Rosario was able to slow down when he finally finished paying off his house, he said.
Don Rosario said he has made mistakes in his life, including run-ins with the law, but having to deal with them helped him to become a better person.
“I was diligent to do everything right to pay for the mistakes that I made,” he said Thursday.
He hopes to one day return to his native Zacatecas. The first thing Don Rosario plans to do once he returns to Mexico is to visit the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe to thank God for the blessings he has received, he said.
When Karen Gonzalez and Michaelangelo Mosqueda met Wednesday evening with Don Rosario to tell him about the money raised for his retirement fund, he was speechless. To express his feelings, he sang a song: “El Muchacho Alegre,” a regional Mexican song whose lyrics depict a joyful young man.
“He refuses to stop working,” said Lucero Del Real, one of Don Rosario’s daughters. “I’m still in shock and extremely grateful for the family, and all the people that have changed my father’s life from one day to another.”
Don Rosario started selling paletas because he suffered an injury two weeks ago and could no longer earn money doing carpentry work at home. He asked Carlos Serrano, the owner of ice cream shop Las Tres Abejas, 3614 E. 106th St., to allow him to take out a paleta cart.
At first, Serrano was hesitant because of the risk of an older person getting sick during the coronavirus pandemic, but then he agreed “because I understand that this is the only option many older Latino men have to earn some money,” he said.
A Family Run Paleteria since 2012
Serrano and his wife have operated their paleteria since 2012. All of their paleta vendors work as independent contractors and earn an average of $50 to $70 a day, “on a good day,” Serrano noted.
“It made me happy to see Don Rosario so joyful when someone bought all of his paletas,” Serrano said.
Although Serrano had kept his ice cream shop closed for more than three months because of COVID-19, he opened again about three weeks ago when some of his vendors contacted him to tell him that they had no more savings.
Most of his vendors, Serrano said, are older Latino men and women who can’t find a job elsewhere due to their immigration status, age or health issues.
“And even though some have worked their whole life in this country, they couldn’t save enough to retire comfortably,” he added.
Like other street vendors, paleteros have been a staple of Latino-majority neighborhoods for decades. Now the ringing bells of a paleta cart can be heard through downtown Chicago and populated beaches during the summer. But Serrano is worried that COVID-19 will not only affect his business, but also the lives of the hundreds of paleteros whose livelihoods depend on the sale of the ice pops.
For Karen Gonzalez and her family, seeing the emotional Don Rosario has also changed their life.
“We are overwhelmed and so happy for him,” she said.
Mosqueda closed the GoFundMe page when the funds raised reached almost $40,000, surpassing their initial goal of $10,000. Gonzalez and Mosqueda expect to present Don Rosario a GoFundMe check next week.
“Don Rosario is not only a paletero, he reminds us of our fathers, our abuelos, who despite any hardships, age or health issues, they choose to keep working to earn money in a very honest way,” Karen Gonzalez said. “He deserves this.”
This article was first published here: Paletero’s ice pops on Father’s Day
Other posts you might enjoy: https://www.mireillemishriky.com/40-days-of-giving-uplifting-news-story/
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