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Meet Emilio, a member of Bethesda Project’s Community Life Council. Emilio meets with residents from Bethesda Project sites to voice the opinions and concerns of his fellow residents.
“I’m on the Community Life Council to express myself and talk about what’s going on at Bethesda Project, and discuss the future plans of Bethesda Project,” Emilio explains.
An active member of the community at Bethesda Bainbridge, a residence for 30 men, Emilio is a natural fit for the Council. At his residence he monitors common areas to ensure that shared living rooms, bathrooms, and the kitchen are kept clean. He frequently attends group gatherings and outings.
Emilio, born in Puerto Rico and bilingual in Spanish and English, translates conversations between staff and another Spanish-speaking resident. Staff members praise this assistance, which allows them to communicate clearly.
Emilio came to Philadelphia as a child with his parents and siblings, who returned to Puerto Rico decades ago. As an adult, Emilio spent six years in the army and then became the owner of his parents’ house in North Philadelphia. The house was paid off, so Emilio didn’t have to make mortgage payments, but with a low-paying job, he couldn’t manage to make repairs.
One winter, his roof caved in. Emilio couldn’t afford to fix it, or to pay rent somewhere else.
“I had my own home,” Emilio emphasizes. “I lost all my clothes, furniture, and everything.”
After losing his house, Emilio lived in a shelter and another residence before coming to Bethesda Bainbridge. He wishes he could afford his own place, but says Bethesda Project provides the best housing- and community- he’s found.
“I can come and go as I please. It’s convenient for me. I can get everything I need.”