The New York Yankees Instill H.O.P.E. In Neighboring Communities

Curtis Granderson, Robinson Cano and the Yankees Organization lend a hand to “An Angel in Queens”

                Each summer, millions of people look forward to the next big superhero movie to hit the big screen. The blockbuster flick usually features an iconic figure that has superhuman strength or some sort of majestic power, which ultimately is used for the good of the people. While fictional heroes are praised by many, they are merely figments of someone’s imagination created for our entertainment. In the Woodhaven section of Queens, New York, resides a hero that doesn’t possess superhuman strength nor any magic power to fight evil, but he works to achieve the same goal as those portrayed in the movies; the good of the people.

Jorge Munoz is a 48 year old immigrant from Colombia that runs a program called “An Angel in Queens.” The program was started in May 2004, where Jorge along with his mother and sister, prepare meals for several less fortunate people in the Jackson Heights section of Queens. The Munoz family has prepared hot meals to these individuals each night around 9pm out of sheer kindness and the belief that GOD has designed this plan for them.  It’s not often that you hear stories as unique as Jorge’s, but it serves as a great reminder that there are still some very good people out there.

On Tuesday June 26th, the New York Yankees and I were privileged to meet the Munoz family and speak with them about their program. As part of their Helping Others Persevere and Excel initiative, members of the Yankee organization also helped prepare the meals for Tuesday night’s delivery and shared what it meant to them to help Jorge in his mission. “It’s good to be here spending time with Jorge and his family,” said Yankee 2nd baseman Robinson Cano. “What they’re doing is really great…I’m very impressed,” he added.

 

The Yankee slugger wasn’t the only player impressed with the Angel in Queens Program, as All-Star center-fielder Curtis Granderson also spoke on how the mission has impacted him. “This is amazing because it allows the Yankees to give back to the community, which is why the organization is what it is today. We have one of the largest fan bases in the world and it’s good to be able to go back and say thank you and acknowledge what he’s doing…which is much more important than winning baseball games.” When asked how the Munoz family has influenced his philanthropic ventures, the defending AL RBI champion highlighted his contributions through Major League Baseball. “One thing I try to do with MLB and the Players Trust is called ‘Volunteers of America’. The main thing about Jorge’s program isn’t about money; it’s the time he’s taking in his kitchen to keep people fed. I try to instill in children, that it’s not about having fame or fortune to do something important.” Granderson continued, “The people that he’s feeding everyday consider him the Angel from Queens because he’s just feeding them, and it has nothing to do with hitting a baseball, singing a song or being on TV. He’s helping those that can’t help themselves, and that’s impressive!”

After hearing all of the high praise bestowed upon Jorge, he was kind enough to sit with us and speak to us exclusively about his program and what’s inspired him to partake in such a noble and selfless act.

 

Skoob: How long have you been running “An Angel in Queens” and what inspires you to continue the program?

 

Jorge Munoz: I began the program eight years ago, in May of 2004. I managed to deliver for everyday for those eight years, aside from a snow storm that buried my car in three feet of snow. Since that day I promised never to miss again.

My mother is my hero and inspiration. She taught me (since childhood) to always share and one day GOD will help you back. I learned that if you are willing to do something good from your heart, GOD will always be with you on your mission. Everyone is here with a mission, and my family along with 12 volunteers, have provided for those men on the corner each day.

 

Skoob: How do you manage to maintain the consistency of the program?

 

JM: We spend about $450 of our own money and the rest is funded through donations. On average we spend about $1200-$1300 per week. The donations come from people who have become aware of the program through various media outlets like the NY Times, CNN Heroes and other things like that.

 

Skoob: Your program was also recognized by President Barack Obama, correct?

 

JM: Yes in August of 2010 I received the Presidential Citizens Medal. The President told me never to give up the mission and what we’re doing here is great! I think because of his contributions back in Chicago within his community, he understood what we’re trying to do.

 

Skoob: How does that feel to be recognized by the President of the United States and the New York Yankees for your work?

 

JM: Walking into the White House was amazing! Imagine someone like the President telling me, a Colombian immigrant, that what me and my mother are doing is great work. He told my mother he is very proud of her, which is very special to me. Then you look at the Yankees also, who are busy guys just like the President. They took the time out of their schedules to come into our home and speak to us. They are proving a point to be behind our mission. They also know how important it is to help people that have lost their jobs and don’t have enough money for food. This has all been an honor. These are honestly the things that keep us going!

 

Everyone that’s come to familiarize themselves with Jorge’s story will ultimately walk away with an unfathomable amount of inspiration. While a man strong in faith, the 5’2 former bus driver has also fallen on hard times of his own, as he recently lost his job as well. However, that hasn’t halted a plan which he feels is his to fulfill due to a higher calling. For his outstanding and very selfless acts, the Yankees organization presented Jorge’s charity with a check for $10,000, which seemed like perfect timing for the Munoz family.

Hopefully Jorge’s story inspires more to follow in his footsteps. Unfortunately, deeds such as this are often overlooked and seemingly taken for granted. However, there are a group of individuals that line up each night underneath the train tracks that would beg to differ. While they aren’t fortunate enough to afford much on their own, they can always count on a hot meal each night, as they’ve truly been blessed with an “Angel in Queens.”

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