DENNY'S STORY 

From coming to America to realizing the American Dream.

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Coming to America

1970's - Ana and Ramon Salas move to America from the Dominican Republic and settle in Bronx, NY, looking to achieve the American Dream of making a good living, having children, and owning a house with a white picket fence.

Ana and Ramon, like many immigrants, settle for low wage jobs that separate them from each other. Ramon takes a job as a dishwasher in New Jersey, where he stays in crowded motels with other immigrant restaurant workers five days a week while Anna works as a seamstress in the Bronx.

New Beginnings

Late 1970's - Looking for better opportunities that will help them achieve their dreams, Ramon and Ana move to New England, settle in Lawrence, MA (nicknamed "Immigrant City"), and start having children.

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1982 - Denny is born at the Southern New Hampshire Medical Center in Nashua, NH.

1980’s -  Ramon, recognizing he needs to do everything possible to support his family, decides to go back to school, and eventually earns his G.E.D.

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While studying for his G.E.D., he decides to volunteer for the Walter Mondale presidential campaign, believing in his message and the candidate's chance to defeat Ronald Reagan.

On his first day as a volunteer, a staffer from Mondale's campaign calls Ramon a "stupid n***er" and says he'll never amount to anything.

Ramon, angry and upset, storms out of the campaign office and dedicates himself to focus on his family and achieving his dreams.

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The Dream

Continues...

Ramon completes his G.E.D. and then enrolls in Bay State College, where he successfully acquires his bachelor's degree.

As Denny and his siblings begin going to school, his Mom and Dad recognize that the school system in Lawrence, MA is not very good. 

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Denny remembers his parents telling his siblings, if anyone asked, to lie about their address so that they can keep going to a better school.

 

This was Denny's first exposure to the inequities that exist in American life.

Lying about your address to send your child to a better school is illegal, but these are the lengths that some parents are forced to take so their children's life can be better than their own.

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Denny starts playing baseball in Methuen, MA and wins two Little League MVP awards.

Tragedy & Hope 

Tragedy strikes. While Ramon is working a night shift, Ana and her children are at home at their second-floor apartment (three apartments/three-floor building), when suddenly...

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Denny's older brother, Clinton, yells, and points to the window.  Ana looks up and sees a fire rising. Ana quickly collects her children, runs outside, and we all watch as the fire engulfs our home. 

 

Denny remembers his mom holding all of them tightly, crying, and thanking God that they were all okay. 

The firefighters confirm to Ramon and Ana that it was a case of arson. 

Driven by the feeling of insecurity from this criminal act yet with an undeterred and hopeful eye to the future, Ramon purchases an undeveloped parcel of land in a small town in New Hampshire.

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1990's - Ramon gets a job at the local manufacturing facility, Malden Mills, and moves his family to the middle-class/upper-middle-class town of Londonderry, NH.

Denny, in his anger at moving away from his friends, quits baseball to anger his dad and starts competing in Track & Field/Cross Country.

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Fire & Dream Achieved

1995 - Tragedy strikes again. In a workplace incident, Malden Mills is destroyed by fire.

The family watches on T.V. as flames are ravaging Ramon's workplace. Denny is sitting on the floor, turns around, and sees fear on his dad's face. He knows his father is concerned about how he will feed his family and keep a roof over their heads.

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CEO Aaron Feuerstein, "The Mensch of Malden Mills," makes a promise to all of his workers: He will continue paying his workers' salaries until Malden Mills is rebuilt.

One step forward and two steps back and one step forward again. It’s a recurring theme. Yet in this shifting and unsure course, Ramon and Ana’s consistency came from the desire to achieve for themselves, their family, and their community.

Denny finds his outlet in sports – from little league baseball to Track & Field/Cross Country and takes under-the-table jobs (at 14), paying cash so that he can afford his running shoes, track spikes, and clothing.

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Denny continues to compete in Track & Field/Cross Country throughout high school. By the end, he's a 10x (10!) NH State/New England Champion and is recognized as a Lawrence Eagle-Tribune and Boston Globe All-Star.

2000 - American Dream Achieved. By the time his parents send Denny to college, Ana and Ramon achieve their dream of building their first house on the land they purchased in 1988.

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The Next Generation 

Denny graduates college and begins his professional career as a stockbroker.

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Inspired by the election of President Barack Obama, Denny quits his job as a stockbroker amidst the Great Recession. He takes an unpaid role at President Obama's political organization, Organizing for America.

Denny works hard to organize Americans to support the president's agenda around Financial Reform and Healthcare.

2009 - Denny moves to Washington, D.C., where he works on Capitol Hill researching for a U.S. Congressman who's tasked with writing part of the Affordable Health Care Act.

Denny sits in the gallery and watches the bill pass the U.S. House of Representatives.

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After Capitol Hill, Denny gets a job as a political consultant and fundraiser for Erickson & Co., headed by a longtime political operative, Tom Erickson. He works on behalf of multiple Democratic U.S. House and Senate members of Congress. He works hard to re-elect Democratic lawmakers who will support the president's agenda and move this country forward.

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2010's - Denny becomes a government relations professional - one of the few people of color in D.C. - running a political action committee and lobbying for a small business manufacturing sector, the recreational boating industry.

This industry supports nearly 1 million middle-class jobs in America, offering good-paying jobs and a pathway towards upward social mobility.

Denny is successful in expanding this industry's voice within Washington, D.C., and his company starts an education campaign that takes him across the country. In three years, he visits 42 states and gives speeches about how politics and regulations affect their businesses. 

The City of Dreams

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2014 - Denny moves to Orlando, FL, to pursue another opportunity where he meets the love of his life, Nicole.

After a year in Orlando, Nicole and Denny believe it's time to move elsewhere. Not sure where they want to grow together, they discuss options and settle on the idea of moving to the place where Denny's parents' journey began - New York City.

Nicole gets a role in advertising, while Denny weighs his options as to what he wants to dedicate his time to. 

He and Nicole decide it’s time to put his life and professional experience to work for the people of New York, people like him who are willing to work hard for the American Dream is given the chance.

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Denny begins working for a school in the Bronx, where 80% of the student population lives below the poverty line.

He quickly puts his talents to use and, during his tenure, raises $1.4 million supporting the creation of the school's first-ever school band; a coding, robotics, and engineering program; a parent financial literacy program; and funding many other afterschool programs.

The Future 

2019 - Nicole and Denny get married in Louisville, KY.

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2021 - Where are they now? 

 

Ramon & Ana - Retired and still living in the home they dreamt of. 

 

Loretta - Denny's older sister, is a Ph.D. in psychology and William Fulbright Scholar. She's married to her longtime love, Brian, with five beautiful and intelligent children.

Clinton - After deciding he didn't like college, he became a long-haul truck driver being an essential worker delivering goods across the country during these times of peril. He also can speak three languages, code, and is a pretty good D.J. 

Elizabeth - Denny's younger sister recently accomplished her Master's Degree in Economics and is a small business owner, married to her boyfriend since middle school, Matthew, and have two beautiful children.

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And Denny - Well, his story is still being written...

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