“This is hell on earth! No one wants to hear your family coughing in pain. It’s really sad,” said Rafael Garcia.
Rafael is a husband and father of three, for his family, living with COVID-19 has not only affected their health, but also financially.
“We all lost our jobs, we can’t work,” said Garcia.
He says the scariest moment for them during the first days of the infection, was when his youngest daughter stopped breathing for a moment.
“It was like having a cardiac arrest. We almost lost her,” said Garcia.
Rafael says they were unaware his son had contracted the virus and by the time he got tested, it was almost too late.
“It began with bone pain, headache, cough and fever,” said Garcia.
Rafael believes he contracted the virus after his son, then his wife and daughters. He says they called a clinic to ask for help, but he was told it was better if they stayed home to avoid spreading to others.
Unable to work, they ran out of savings and relied on family members to drop whatever they could for them to eat, but then came the Arizona heat.
“It got really hot in here, I was unsure if it was fever symptoms or just the weather,” said Garcia.
It wasn’t until a couple of days ago that a good samaritan helped them to fix their A/C unit and pay the bill.
“Sometimes you feel like giving up,” said Garcia.
When times are tough, the power of community can make a difference in the lives of people like the Garcia family.
Rafael found some relief through a new neighbor community network created just this week by two Valley women.
“There’s so many people that just want to help, and if we put this out there and we connect people, we think it can happen,” said Anita Malik.
“At this point just about anybody is our neighbor because if somebody has it they can give it, and if somebody doesn’t have it they can get it,” said Wendy Chovnick.
Malik and Chovnick are the founders of NeighborsWorkingTogether.com.
It’s a community action group helping families impacted by COVID-19.
Their mission is to help people unable to pay bills, rent or buy essentials.
How does it work?
“You fill out a form and tell us a little bit about your problem, is it job loss, a diagnosis, you can’t work, or you can’t get unemployment,” said Malik.
Once you fill out the form, you will be matched with one of their sponsors to start direct communication.
“We’re not touching money, we’re not an organization. We just tell them you can get to this person, here’s their Venmo or this is where you can mail them a check,” added Malik.
A network of neighbors helping neighbors that started with two old high school friends and the thought that everyone deserves hope, no matter immigration status, sexual orientation, language or zip code.
ABC15’s special reporting project, The Rebound Arizona is shining a light on communities in need during these challenging times. If you know someone in need, please email reporter Liliana Soto at Liliana.firstname.lastname@example.org.