Filling a Need: Ray Torres

HARLINGEN — For Ray Torres, Loaves & Fishes fills the hours of his days.

Helping the disadvantaged and the hungry fills him with other feelings as well.

“It’s like a blessing,” he said. “I just do it for my community.”

Loaves & Fishes serves the homeless and the hungry, especially those regarded as food insecure. They are our neighbors, both families and individuals, who are unsure of whether today’s meals or tomorrow’s will be on the table.

Loaves & Fishes officials have said they believe about 18 percent of Cameron County residents fit that description.

On any given day, the food charity feeds an average of 100 people breakfast, another 60 at lunch and 125 at dinner.

Torres, 42, says his role is to make sure “everyone is doing their job right,” and to watch out for those dining at Loaves & Fishes to make sure they’re all right.

“I think it’s good because there are unfortunate people that don’t have enough to eat,” Torres said. “This facility here helps them. It’s kind of sad, the poor people who stand in line early in the morning to get fed.”

Torres says to anybody looking to help his or her community, Loaves & Fishes is a good avenue to take.

“It feels good if you want to do something,” he said. “I don’t do this because I’m bored.

“It gives me something positive to do and it makes me feel like I’m doing something very nice.”

Torres works most every day at Loaves & Fishes, walking most of the way across town to help out.

He praises his fellow volunteers and Loaves & Fishes staff, saying part of his inspiration comes from the camaraderie shown among those working and volunteering at the pantry.

“It’s fun. I meet people, and it’s cool, I like it,” he said.

Torres said he became familiar with Loaves & Fishes the way many others do, showing up because he himself was hungry.

“One day I just came over here to eat and I said, ‘Hey, can I help around here?’ And they said yes.”

Since those days, he said his situation has improved. Now he wants to give something back, he said.

“I like people to like me, and I like to help these people here,” he said. “The girls are nice, and the guys are cool.”

It’s a sense of being part of something larger that he finds rewarding on a different level.

“I’m just glad I’m a part of it, because I’ve been in that situation before — I’ve been homeless,” Torres said.

“God will bless me for this, I know He will.”