January 6, 2020 – As one of four children raised by a single mother, Daniel is familiar with the struggles of single parenthood. “If it wasn’t for having food stamps, we would not have been able to be fed,” he explains.
These formative experiences shaped Daniel’s outlook on his own resilience and the power of community. “I used to get picked on in school because we didn’t have money,” Daniel told us in our conversation at Cherry Park food pantry. “It’s so important for me to not allow that stigma to continue — I want people to know there are good people in this world that want to do good for people and have them succeed.” he said.
Today, Daniel volunteers at three Portland area school pantries: Cherry Park Elementary, Glenfair Elementary and David Douglass High School. He cites family as the biggest inspiration for his deep involvement with local food assistance programs. “I wanted to be a role model for my nephews and nieces and let them know: this is how good people give back to the community,” he said. “It’s not just for ourselves or to be selfish — but to be selfless.”
To Daniel, these aren’t just words; he regularly volunteers alongside his sister and her children, helping friends and neighbors through challenging periods. Not only has the family’s work together strengthened their own bond, it has also helped them establish a new definition of family. “People that volunteer are so amazing,” Daniel said. “They’re so loving, so caring. It’s like an extended family.”