Leslie and I met at a rally a few years back as Puerto Rico's bankruptcy loomed and local leaders were beginning to organize. As someone who only visited the island in the summers, I asked him what some of the needs were in his area and what I could do to help. Dressed in a super hero shirt, he told me, empathy leads to radical transformation.
Educated in psychology and business, Leslie left his corporate job to start an initiative called Resuelve Comunitario to give resources to the most needy in his community. Without a single dollar exchanging hands, he meets the needs of his neighbors——many elderly, some who are bedridden, immobile or just lacking in resources to survive day to day. With the closure of hospitals and the lack of public services, many feel invisible. Leslie distributes donated medical/ hygiene supplies and connects them with long term support. This could take the form of making calls for them or finding them legal aid, but often times, it's just a friendly face to check in on them.
The relationships he develops are consistent and close. He visits the same people within a 10 mile radius by bicycle. Most of his job, he says, is listening and letting people know that someones cares about them and that they are "seen." Since we have become friends, he often checks in on me with the same care through a long distance text or a note.
He told me if I wanted to create change...to "see" the people with need in my own life...in my own 10 mile radius.