Blind man sees the difference a volunteer makes

“He is a blessing to me, a real godsend.”

In 2010, Jorge Cruz was managing an apartment building.  He was the go-to problem solver for 48 families. It was not just a profession to Jorge, but a 24-hour-a-day calling. Then, it came crashing to a halt when a stroke suddenly left him without his vision, speech or memory.

Today, Jorge is still blind. But he has recovered his speech and memory, while regaining strength to walk using a cane. The 67-year-old lives in a high-rise apartment in Pittsburgh’s Polish Hill, mostly independently, thanks to supports including United Way’s Open Your Heart to a Senior program.

Jorge has been paired up with volunteer Todd Rosenfeld, who he calls his godsend. Todd picks Jorge up and takes him on bi-monthly grocery trips to the local Aldi and Dollar Store.

“Todd takes me anywhere – for groceries, the bank, even my eye appointments,” Jorge says, “And even on Sundays. He is there for me. I know I can call on him for help.”

Jorge considers his journey a miracle, having worked hard with therapists to regain skills he had spent a lifetime taking for granted.

“Todd helps me out so I can go places,” Jorge adds, noting that his sister who lives just a few blocks away, sometimes accompanies them. “She comes with us and buys her own things. Now Todd is helping her get along, too.”

Jorge sometimes misses his 28-year-long career as a building manager, so gets to know everyone in his building. He makes sure to introduce Todd to everyone there, too.

Hundreds of volunteers are needed for United Way’s Open Your Heart to a Senior program. To learn more and sign up in Allegheny County, visit In Westmoreland County,