In 2005, Pedro J. Jimenez answered a random phone call for help. The Lions Club from Spain contacted him and asked him to be a support system for a Spanish family with a 4-year-old girl coming to the U.S. for treatment at Riley Children’s Hospital.
“I acted as their host and connection to the Spanish community [in Indianapolis],” said Jimenez. “I spent 14 or 15 hours a day with them going to doctors, translating the doctors or nurses and taking middle-of-the-night calls.”
Recently retired from Eli Lilly and Company as its Research Advisor for 26 years, Jimenez was honored to help the family. And thanks in part to Jimenez’s help, the young woman is now a healthy 16-year-old. He never misses a chance to visit the family when they return to the U.S. for her well visits.
Just as the Lions Club knew they could count on Jimenez, hundreds of Hispanic families in Central Indiana have benefited from his generosity. Jimenez is an integral member of La Plaza, formerly the Hispanic Education Center, which provides free tax preparation services for low income Latino immigrants new to our community. As a volunteer, Jimenez advanced the program by helping recruit volunteers, supervising volunteers, providing tax guidance and organizing and funding a thank-you dinner dedicated to volunteers.
“I am a firm believer that you can change lives through education,” said Jimenez. “La Plaza works with families who need medical help, legal help and food. I hope to teach them skills to be successful.”
As a current board member for La Plaza, Jimenez is willing to fill any void. He volunteered to drive La Plaza’s bus so its summer students could attend academic camps at Gambold Middle School. He also volunteered to speak on the same camp’s career panel, expressing how he beat the odds and used education to find success.
“I lost my father when I was 17 years old,” he said. “We buried him on a Friday, and I took the SAT the next day.”
Jimenez believes he wouldn’t be here today without his mother. Because he lost his father at a young age, he didn’t think going to college would be possible. But his mother worked multiple jobs to make sure he and his two siblings had goals to further their education and the means to go to college.
“My mom made sure the three of us could get an education the way we wanted because we were all so different,” said Jimenez. “That’s why I love working with kids so much. I can show them that if you want something, you just have to work at it.”