On one side of the street a young man the picture of health, lean and physically fit, and who appeared to be capable of working, chooses to beg, by holding a sign asking for handouts.
On the other side of the street a severely handicapped man has difficulty doing even the most simple everyday tasks. His head down, he struggles to push the entire convoy of lawnmowers and a cart loaded with weed trimmers, gasoline and other equipment all over town. Even on blazing hot days he is always out there working hard.
So who is he and what is his story?
The oldest of seven children, Jose Angel (Chito) Martiarena was born with Muscular Dystrophy in Del Rio, TX in 1964. While he can’t talk Chito is very animated and does his best to convey what’s on his mind. He has always dreamed of being able to drive a car and participate in the Special Olympics.
Chito loves his country, his family, his mom and siblings and is fiercely loyal and protective of them. He misses his late father very much.
Although handicapped since birth, Chito, who lives with his mom and helps take care of her, has a work ethic that would put a workaholic to shame.
Although it is the responsibility of the highway department to maintain the divided median in front of the mall Chito does it for free. Why? Because people can’t see the cars at the dealership and Chito wants the dealership to be able to sell cars. He pulls weeds in the cracks of city sidewalks not because he’s getting paid but simply because they need pulling!
He has been mowing yards for about ten years and while he has a few paying customers mostly he cuts yards for free. If he sees grass that needs cutting he cuts it.
Nobody would blame Chito if he sat at home. His physical disabilities are obvious and profound. Yet he chooses to work hard not for personal gain, accolades, wealth or any other selfish goal. An unselfish, hard working decent citizen that is doing the best he can every day when he wakes up. He doesn’t focus on himself, he’s focused on others and what they need. He wants to serve others and be a good citizen simply because he can!
Today our country and our world face problems on so many fronts and most we have brought upon ourselves. The erosion of our economy, education and freedom, embracing laziness, ignorance, narcissism and the list goes on. Service and sacrifice are exceedingly rare these days.
People whine because they don’t make enough money or it’s too hard or how they were wronged or mistreated or shortchanged and the list goes on and on and on.
Each of us should strive to be more like Chito who works hard to do his best at being a good citizen.
“If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michaelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” ― Martin Luther King Jr.
After watching it you might wonder if there was any way to help Chito: gofundme.com/nubv7v44
UPDATE FROM RUSSELL STIDHAM who shared Chito’s story: I just received word that Chito’s story won the 2016 Barbara Jordan Award.Texas Governor Greg Abbot will present the award April 23rd.