Editor's note: The Red & Black has published two versions of this article, one in English and one in Spanish.
Nota de los editores: The Red & Black ha publicado dos versiones de este artículo, una por inglés y una por español. El colaborador Osbaldo Marin tradujo este artículo.
Noe Mendoza is known as someone with a big heart who always gives back to his community. Since 1999, Mendoza has lived in and served the Athens Clarke-County community alongside his brother, Beto Mendoza. Both founded the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition, an organization that fights for immigrant rights.
Noe Mendoza has been a key component in Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition by aiding undocumented people within the ACC community.
“Noe has been supporting multiple families because there are not enough bilingual volunteers who want to donate their time to help families navigate the legal system during deportation proceedings,” Beto Mendoza said.
Recently, Noe Mendoza was diagnosed with Spondylolisthesis, a spinal condition that causes lower back pain. A GoFundMe that Beto created for Noe Mendoza has raised over $9,000.
Since the diagnosis, Noe Mendoza’s life has been altered significantly.
A few weeks ago, after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, Noe Mendoza had a reaction that led to him being in bed for a week. Two weeks later, Noe Mendoza bent over to feed his dog and coughed simultaneously, resulting in his legs being immobilized. From there Beto took him to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with his condition.
“He's not able to walk,” Beto said. “He lost his ability to mobilize for simple things such as buying groceries. He has to have someone help him push and put groceries inside — he cannot do any of it anymore.”
Members of the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition have joined in on supporting Noe Mendoza too.
“AIRC have banded together to make sure Noe has as much support as possible during this time by providing him with meals, visits to keep him company and rides to his weekly physical therapy appointments,” said Kerry Steinberg, spokesperson for AIRC.
As a result of being physically handicapped, Noe has been unable to work, which has resulted in financial challenges as well.
“I don't know if anyone can survive with $10,000 for the rest of their life,” Beto said. “That money will be gone in two to three months just for rent and bills.”
Despite these challenges, Noe is still an important person to the ACC community.
“Without Noe's contributions to our community, I don't think our organization would be nearly as strong as it is today,” Steinberg said.