By Marshall Hook
Xavier Vera spends his days as an AffinEco area manager creating safe work environments throughout Connecticut and Westchester County, New York. He leads a team of cleaners through the increasingly more complex protocols necessary to combat the coronavirus. Vera calls himself a “really happy person,” who is always laughing and joking. But behind that veneer is someone who knows all too well the pain this deadly pandemic can cause.
“I lost the only two brothers I had left and my mother and father all in three weeks,” he said.
Vera explained that his brother in New Jersey and the rest of his family in Ecuador all contracted COVID-19 and died between the end of March and the middle of April. He was able to take time away to be with his family, but twice came back to work only to learn of the loss of another family member.
“When my first brother passed and then my mother, I took a week off,” he explained, “But then I had only been at work for two hours when they called me to tell me my father passed.”
He was home for less than a week when his other brother died as well. But after each loss, Vera says he was eager to get back to the job he loves. He has been with AffinEco for nearly a decade, starting as a cleaner and working his way up to area manager. Sam Rodriguez is Vera’s branch manager.
“He’s one of my main guys, working in the field and directly with other employees and customers,” Rodriguez said. “He took a big loss. His family was hit really hard, but he came back and continues to do a great job.”
Vera acknowledges the job is a bit more complicated during the pandemic than it was before, but he always makes sure he leaves his buildings safe for both his crew and clients. He says the disinfecting procedures are vital to keep everyone healthy. The fact that he lost family to COVID is always in the back of his mind.
“I want to make sure that other people are protected. We want to make sure other people don’t get sick, if we can.”
Vera is proud that, as far as he knows, no one on his staff has come down with the virus.
In the end, Vera has dedicated himself to work to not only help others, but also deal with his grief. The four family members he lost this year came after both his daughter and sister passed away in 2015. Through it all, Vera says keeping positive is very important.
“I’m sure people know about it, but I don’t want to show it. I don’t want to ruin people’s day,” he said. “I have a big scar inside my heart, but that’s for me. I keep it to myself.”
Rodriguez made clear why Vera is so important to him and the operation. “He is one of the most dedicated people I have ever worked with,” he said. “We are lucky to have him.”