Local man helps people in Juarez one candy at a time
EL PASO, Texas (KFOX14) —
As many start a time of relaxation Fridays in downtown El Paso, there’s one man who’s loading traditional Mexican-American candies into sturdy blue bags.
Jorge Mayorga was adopted by bargoers as “The Candy Man.” Mayorga said he received his nickname throughout the last 15 years he’s been selling the sweets at bars in downtown, central and west El Paso.
Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Mayorga walks into the bars with bags and boxes to his left and right.
Always dressed in a button-up shirt, black-polished shoes and with his white hair neatly combed to the side, Mayorga travels his five-hour route to each bar or restaurant that will have him.
“It’s a privilege for me to do this job,” Mayorga said on a night KFOX-14 followed him.
“I will keep doing this as long as I can,” he said.
He confidently walks into the bars and makes his way to every table in the room or patio, never missing a possible customer – not even the bartenders or security guards.
Bars are a place he’s all too familiar with. Before he was The Candy Man, Mayorga spent his time differently.
“I used to be an alcoholic. I was lost for about 20 or 25 years – drinking, doing drugs. I was very lost,” said Mayorga.
His life took a turn for the better when he joined a religious group, Victory Outreach in El Paso.
“They gave me an opportunity to change my life” Mayorga said.
“That’s the reason why I feel the need to help others.”
Mayorga slowly transformed his life by lending a hand to others going through addiction. He was walking the streets one day when he crossed paths with a man named Joel.
Joel had a rough childhood; he told KFOX-14 he grew up in the streets of Juarez without parents.
Mayorga introduced Joel to Victory Outreach, where they would later develop a team to help others. Joel said it was his calling to help children growing up on the streets at a time when murders of women, cartel violence and poverty plagued Juarez.
Joel opened up Centro Victoria Associacion Civil, a shelter for children of all ages. There were 95 children living there when our cameras visited. Joel says the number of residents at the shelter changes often; the youngest are toddlers, the oldest college students.
Lesly Yoana Salas Reyes, 22, asked Joel if she could live at the shelter when she was 12 years old.
“My mom drank and my dad wasn’t around. I always said ‘I don’t want a family like this,’” said Salas Reyes.
Salas Reyes said she’s enrolled at El Paso Community College studying accounting, along with three others living at the shelter.
“We’re not full-time students. We take one or two classes,” said Salas Reyes.
The shelter has a bus that drives the students to the international bridge and drops them off. They cross to the U.S. with a student visa, said Andrea Angelita Carrera Pio, who says is studying computer science at EPCC.
The young adults from the shelter learned English at EPCC.
“Sometimes it’s a little uncomfortable because everyone knows more English than me,” said Salas Reyes.
“But it encourages me because you know one day you can get to speak at their level.”
The girls dream of graduating from college, starting a career and donating back to the shelter. KFOX-14 asked them if there was anything they’d like others to know.
“I’d say for parents to motivate their sons and daughters. To the young adults – to take opportunity of studying with their families,” said Salas Reyes.
“Many times, they have it all but don’t value it or take advantage,” she said.
“In El Paso, there’s more attention so you can take advantage, keep studying and do what you like so you can help others,” said Carrera Pio.
Giving up is not an option for the girls because they know they’re setting an example for the dozens of other children at the shelter, said Salas Reyes.
The children arrive at the shelter in different conditions, sometimes with health issues. A 10-year-old boy named Jose Angel Rivera-Vega arrived there without the ability to walk and would use his arms to drag his body, according to Joel.
Joel was able to find doctors to perform a string of surgeries for Rivera-Vega even though doctors thought Rivera-Vega would not live for much longer, said Joel.
Rivera-Vega gained mobility in his lower body and has a promising future to walk, said Joel.
The work done at Centro Victoria Associacion Civil is an everyday endeavor. They are always accepting donations to give the children and young adults a healthy lifestyle.
“Just because they might not have parents doesn’t mean they have to stay behind in life,” said Joel.
As winter approaches the Borderland, Centro Victoria Associacion Civil could use blankets, jackets and other warm clothes for the kids.
The shelter also needs feminine hygiene products and first-aid products such as gauze.
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on how to donate.