With his new home, Marcos gets to spend quality time with his 3 granddaughters

From our 2016-2017 Report to Community.

Marcos, 70, enjoys his summers, spending the days with his granddaughters while their parents are at work. Each morning, he picks them up and brings them to his apartment at Bishop O’Byrne Housing Association (BOBHA), one of RESOLVE’s Partners.

“My granddaughters are my life, my happiness,” Marcos says of Georgia, Havana and Eva.

The girls’ school is nearby so Marcos is able to pick them up during the school year and help them with their homework in the library. While the building he lives in may be affordable housing for seniors, his granddaughters have always felt very welcome.

“In my last building, the girls had to stay in my apartment,” he remembers. “I felt alone there because people weren’t really friendly. Here, it feels more like family. I wish and I hope that the last day of my life is here.”

Marcos was born in Cuba in 1947, about a decade before the communist government took power. He doesn’t like to talk about his life there under communist rule.

He joined the navy at 17 and spent the next 35 years at sea. On January 1, 2000, he docked in Halifax. “I escaped to Canada,” he says. “They opened the door wide and said ‘Welcome Marcos’, even though they didn’t know who I was. I am very grateful.”

Marcos spent that first night in an emergency shelter. Unable to use his Cuban training in Canada, he worked minimum wage jobs until he had saved enough to bring his family to Canada.

Supporting a family on minimum wage is difficult, if not impossible. For families who are living paycheque-to-paycheque, there is often nothing left over to save for emergencies, let alone retirement.

“I worked any job I could find,” says Marcos. “I wanted the best for my family.”

As Marcos got older and his children moved out, he needed affordable housing, which he found through BOBHA. “Here, it feels like family,” he says.

Marcos makes sure that his neighbours know he is available to help, 24/7, no matter what the task. He has organized a picnic and other activities that he invites them to. On any given day you may catch him singing in the lounge with some of the men in the building, watching the Flames game or getting a lesson in hula-hooping from his granddaughters. “Hula, hula!” he laughs.

When asked what his family means to him, Marcos starts to tear up. “I’m a very happy man,” he says. “God blessed me with my family.”

Marcos adds that one of the most important things for a human being to have is “una casa digna, una casa humana” — a dignified house, a home with humanity.

View RESOLVE’s projects for seniors with low income here:
>Columbus Place and Columbus Court (Bishop O’Byrne Housing Association)
>NE Seniors’ Project (Trinity Place Foundation of Alberta)
>Elbow Valley Site (Silvera for Seniors)