After losing his job because of the pandemic, Andy wanted to find a way to still give back to his community, so he began volunteering at the grocery distribution at the College of San Mateo (CSM). With its large, empty parking lots, CSM was an ideal site to serve a steady stream of hundreds of households in a drive-thru setting. The large space also meant safety protocols could be followed, keeping clients and volunteers safe. Seeing the impact COVID-19 had on fellow veterans and his athletes’ families, Andy shows up every Friday to volunteer.

Despite his previous job’s focus on connecting other veterans to resources, Andy admits that he stubbornly refused to ask for help when he needed it. Eventually, the staff at Cañada College convinced him to visit their on-site pantry, and he was surprised to see his wife’s relief when he returned home with free groceries. Now that Andy isn’t working, he’s grateful to know that getting access to nutritious food isn’t something his family has to sacrifice. He especially liked sharing how his wife makes tamales each Christmas with ingredients from Second Harvest:

“My wife’s tradition has always been tamales every Christmas, but that chicken and those ingredients that you need to make the sauce get expensive. I tell a lot of families, my wife uses the chicken and the ingredients that we get from [Second Harvest] to make her tamales… [with] that help and those tamales for that one day, at least we forget about everything else.”

Andy’s father is from Mexico and served in Vietnam in order to become a U.S. citizen, and his mother is also a first-generation immigrant who came from Nicaragua. Andy and his wife Nadia live in Belmont with their daughter Adelia, who loves art, music, baking and volunteering, and their son Augie, an athlete who excels in football.