For Romay Garcia, maintaining a school is a service to the country
BY JASON COHEN
For more than two decades Romay Garcia served his country overseas. Today, the Navy veteran is head custodian at Success Academy South Jamaica.
Garcia,52, has worked at the school, at 120-27 141st St. in South Ozone Park, for 10 years.
Garcia grew up in Harlem during a time the borough was filled with drugs and crime. He had aspirations of being a doctor, but after attending Hunter College, he realized his best shot at getting out of the neighborhood was to enlist in the military.
He joined in 1988 and spent time in Italy, Spain and the Middle East. “I met a lot of good people who really love this country,” he said.
He left the Navy in 2008 and returned stateside, only to find himself in the throes of one’s of the country’s bleakest ever economic periods. In need of a job, a friend recommended him to the school. Things have been smooth sailing since. While the head custodian at a school is different than maintaining a vessel, Garcia loves the job.
He is closer to home, there’s less stress and, best of all, children greet him with a smile every day.
“I consider this job a service to my country,” Garcia said. “They (students) bring you that strength to continue.”
After being in the Navy, waking up at 4 a.m. is easy. In addition to keeping the school clean, he’s charged with making sure the heat works in the winter and the air conditioning in the summer.
“This job is like an extension to serve the community and the city of New York because students they are the future,” Garcia said. “The best part of the job is when I see the scholars moving to the next level.”
Garcia lives in the Bronx with his wife, Sandra, and their two kids.
While he acknowledged it is nice to be honored for his work, he wants veterans to receive better treatment.
“I just wish that those people that sacrificed their life for this country and their family should have better opportunities,” Garcia said.