OSSINING, N.Y. – Nearly a half-century ago, Joe Vera left his home in Ecuador to start a lifetime of hard work in the United States in the hope that he could fulfill his American Dream of providing for his family.
Today, at age 72 with his wife, Esperanza, of 51 years and seven children, Vera is still working hard for his family as the “best handyman ever” at Houlihan Lawrence Inc., where no job is too big and there is always time for a kind word with his co-workers.
“I see what job needs to be done, and I do it,” he said.
Houlihan Lawrence Realtor Sharon Bodnar Briskman has known Vera for 20 years. He is a hard worker and a great husband, father and grandfather to his 10 grandchildren, she said.
Briskman recalled that when she was trying to sell her father’s home, Vera painted it and cleaned the rugs along with doing many of smaller repairs to prepare the house for sale.
“He did everything,” she said. “Thanks to his work, the house sold in two months.”
Vera’s duties include prepping homes for sale, doing small tasks, painting and replacing windows, said Howard Chwatt, office manager at Houlihan Lawrence.
Vera worked to send all seven of his children to college and is the perfect example of someone living the American Dream, Chwatt said.
“He sacrificed all of his time to provide for his wife and children,” he said. “What more could anyone ask for?”
Vera worked with Esperanza at Westchester House Cleaning for 15 years and became an American citizen in 1985. When the cleaning company closed 20 years ago, Vera began working at Houlihan Lawrence.
He said the driving force behind his effort was simply to provide for his family. “I always wanted to give the best to my children, because that is what you do,” he said.
Vera's relatives recently gathered to celebrate his birthday with good food, good company and lots of dancing.
“I enjoyed having everyone at home,” he said. “This is what I live for — my family.”