A family man, father of four who suffers from a degenerative eye disease that has left him legally blind, Hector Otzoy doesn’t let his disability get the best of him. It certainly hasn’t stopped him from volunteering at Camillus House for the last nearly 30 years.
Hector credits his Miami Jackson High School guidance counselor Patty Smith who suggested he check Camillus House out, with introducing him to the organization. That was in 1993 when he was a senior and Otzoy has been volunteering every Thanksgiving and Christmas ever since.
“In the beginning, I went on my own – just a kid, especially since I was raised by a single mom and my sister and I didn’t have the traditional Thanksgiving because mom was always working,” Otzoy said. “I would even volunteer two shifts, I loved doing it.”
Eventually, Hector got married and started a family of his own, but he would still go serve in the mornings and then come home to have Thanksgiving with his family.
As his four boys got older, he started bringing them along, even when they were too little to serve, he says “they would sit and draw holiday cards, I just wanted them to see that some people aren’t as fortunate.”
As his boys, Troy who is now 13 years old and the youngest, Danilo who is 15, 17-year-old Luis and 22-year-old Hector got older, they began serving and taking on other duties during Thanksgiving and Christmas feedings.
Now 48 years old, Hector has gotten to know fellow volunteers and Camillus House throughout his years volunteering.
“Year after year, the same dedicated people show up, I even got friendly with the Chef Darrick who even with my current condition allows me to continue volunteering,” said Hector. “I know the routine and so two years ago when I lost my vision and it got more difficult, Chef Darrick still put me to work.”
Hector has gotten to the point where he can only see a shadow and even though he did have to declare himself disabled, that hasn’t stopped him at all. He continues being involved with his kids’ sports activities.
“I’m a single dad and I love having kids. I still go to their open houses and help them with projects,” he said. “Luis goes to Killian, Danilo plays football for Palmer Trinity and Troy attends Arvida and plays football for the park. The oldest relocated to Fort Myers for a job but still very much keeps in touch.
They’re a tight knit family and as he did before losing his vision, Hector helps out his son’s coaches, assisting them with players’ strengthening and conditioning.
It was that same giving spirit that brought much needed help to his family many years ago when his son Luis had a health scare. At four years old Luis was diagnosed with Collagen Vascular Disease which made him wheelchair bound. Hector could not afford the therapy and rehab needed to support Luis.
Thankfully, while Hector was coaching a basketball game at the local YMCA, one of the player’s parents observed that he never charged for private coaching and had selflessly helped their son in the sport.
It turned out this parent was a physician who owned a rehabilitation clinic and with his aid, Luis eventually transitioned from the wheelchair to a walker and today walks with no assistance.
“That doctor and his wife were a Godsend to me and my family,” said Hector. Much like volunteering at Camillus House has been for him, something he looks forward to doing every single year.
Although he keeps active and moves past his disability, Hector admits that “my vision loss felt like they cut my wings. When it comes to serving at Camillus he says, “My kids kept coming with me, they inspire me.”