Garces Foundation helps Philadelphia woman who lost job during pandemic

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- As hundreds of people lined up in South Philadelphia every week for a Philabundance and Garces Foundation Food Drive, they could count on a familiar face.

"This is my home, this is my neighborhood, this is my new family," said Olivia Ponce, who has lived in South Philadelphia for 20 years.

Ponce immigrated from Mexico with her young daughter not knowing any English. She spent decades working 16 hour days cleaning restaurants, then the pandemic hit.

"The city closed March 19 and by the end of the month I had COVID," she said.

"She was scared, she didn't have a job, her whole family was sick," said Beatriz Garces of the Garces Foundation.

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Join 6abc and Philabundance in our effort to help Feed Our Food Workers - many of whom are struggling to put food on their tables during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

At the time, Ponce didn't know how she would feed her family.

"I provide everything for my family," said Ponce.

"A lot of the immigrant workers that we help cannot get government help for really anything," said Garces.

The Garces Foundation, which had known Ponce for years, started delivering food to her. In fact, Ponce was a catalyst for the subsequent food drives Garces did for the community.

"They don't ask me for anything. They provide only love for the community," said Ponce.

Still, for six months, she was out of work. She was a food worker who couldn't afford to feed her family.

Garces stepped up again, offering her a job at its COVID testing site through its lab where she's able to be employed with her work visa.

"I said, 'Me? My English is not enough.' He told me, 'Yeah, you can do it, you can work with us,'" said Ponce, remembering getting the offer.

"It felt really appropriate to engage Olivia in our testing operations because that community is scared and they need to see a familiar face," said Garces.

The pandemic has hit her hard, but she's still made it a priority to help her community.
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