Fito came to America from Paraguay in 1972 with dreams of being a boxer. He was “skinny but strong,” and he gave boxing a try for a while, attempting to follow a famous trainer to Vermont. He could only afford to go as far as Delaware, though, and took a job laying blacktop at the Redwood Apartments. The landlord of the building at the time, a man by the name of Oscar, was planning to return to his home country of Uruguay, and after taking a liking to Fito suggested he take over as building manager. Fito initially refused, telling Oscar that he planned to be a boxer. He challenged Oscar to an arm-wrestling match, making a bet that if he won Oscar would have to pay the rest of Fito’s way to Vermont, but that if he lost he would take the building manager job. Fito lost, and so he took over Redwood. Though Fito never expected to end up in Delaware, he has found a thriving Latino community and has come to see it as “home.” Fito purchased the building after saving for years, and he tries each day to make it “like an island for washed-ashore refugees.”
In Fito’s chapter, he describes the ways in which his vision of what the American dream would be like didn’t quite work out—but in some ways, he was able to achieve even more than he set out to. Fito came to America with the self-centered dream of achieving fame and fortune as a boxer, but as chance intervened and his circumstances changed, he found himself in charge of a community and discovered that he enjoyed it. He deepened his commitment to creating a thriving, welcoming community of immigrants, and to ensuring that none of his tenants ever feel lost, isolated, or far from home.