Godspeed Jerry

December 1, 2008

Jerry Custodio will leave the CNMI today.  Love him or hate him, you have to admit Jerry made an impact on Saipan and brought many issues relating to guest workers into the light. I have to say I am one of the people who love Jerry, and I understand and appreciate all of the tremendous work that he did.  

Jerry was always one of the first people to show up at an event, helping to set up, and get things organized.  While others would stroll in after everything was started and pick up the microphone to take the spotlight, it was Jerry who often made that possible.  

On my last three trips to the CNMI, I often slept only 2 to 3 hours a night.  When I went into the lobby every morning around 6:00 a.m. there was Jerry with the newspapers, cans of Mr. Brown coffee, and his big smile.  "How can I help you today?"  

When I was at one gathering, meeting with some workers, the thought flashed through my mind that I should be taking down their names and contacts.  I turned to find my bag to grab a notepad, and saw that Jerry was already doing that.  Jerry connected me to dozens of guest workers with special needs and problems.  He enlightened me about guest worker issues I did not know existed.  My daughter Nani often worked long hours next to me during my last trip to the CNMI.  Jerry made her laugh and even took her to have a manicure during our stay.

Jerry founded the Human Dignity Movement naming it after Rep. George Miller's bill. He worked to secure fundamental rights for foreign contract workers for years.  He risked his own job by speaking out. He was terminated, in part for speaking out, as a letter from his former employer stated.  When he tried to get a new job,  he was told over and over by prospective employers that they were afraid to hire him because he was "too political."  Jerry kept looking and kept working to support workers' rights despite his own hardships.  Jerry has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I ever met.

Jerry, I wish you much luck and success. With all of your skills, I am sure you will find a good job. I never wear T-shirts, but today, the first day after Thanksgiving break, I am wearing the Human Dignity T-shirt that you gave to me.  I will tell all of my students about you and what you did to advance the cause of the guest workers in the CNMI.  
Love and best wishes to you, my friend.


Anonymous said...

Good luck Jerry. We will always remember how much you helped us.