Yelitza Castro is an undocumented immigrant who works as a housekeeper in Charlotte, North Carolina. Since 2010, she has also been cooking meals for homeless men and women in her community.
Through this work she met Willie Davis, who has been the recipient of many of those meals.
At StoryCorps, Yelitza told Willie about how it all began.
Click here for the transcript.
Willie Davis (WD): Yes, I do.
YC: It was Christmas, 2010.
WD:The church van came and picked some of us guys up from the men's shelter and I'm like, Why is this lady coming to the roughest place in Charlotte to do this for us. Something must be fishy about this. But I said I'm going to go. And when I got out of the van, I smelled the cooking and then I saw you. I saw a smile on your face that made everybody feel welcome and comfortable. And when you cooked, it was like what my moms used to cook. And I haven't had that kind of feeling in a long time, and I really needed that.
YC: That night, I finished all the stuff in the kitchen and when I got to the buffet tables, you guys all together start singing the Feliz Navidad song. And I said, "Oh my gosh, you're singing in Spanish." And I just started crying. ( Laughs)
WD: Everybody just gave you a standing ovation, pretty much. (Laughs)
WD: It's just, you don't make us feel homeless. You know us by names and faces. And we know you all care. Before I met you, Yelitza, I pretty much almost gave up. But that home-cooked meal, it just brought my self-esteem back up. And now I've got my own place and…
YC: It's really amazing. And that gave me motivation because I'm here in the United States by myself with my kids. And I know that it's hard. That Christmas dinner, it's not just a meal; it's try to make you guys feel like we are family.
WD: Every other Saturday feels like Christmas to me. That's why I keep coming. I'm always going to keep coming.