NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Photo Essay: Before I’m gone

Photo collage, buildings and portrait of grandmotherBryan Fernandez

My grandmother’s neighborhood in the Bronx, near Gun Hill Rd. Bottom left image is on Brooklyn bridge (she’d drive through there everyday).

Carmen “Tita” Almonte


“I always served other people. Running around, always doing things for other people. There isn’t anybody out there that has any negative feelings towards me, thank Jehovah. The best thing in life is when people get along. When people get along, we live well. We live happily. I believe that we must always get along, especially with family. With your spouse’s family. Who you end up with is also extremely important. I have always been very family oriented, and you must get to know your significant other’s family before you decide you want to spend the rest of your life with them. Get to know who they are, and how close they are with their family. What is their family like? Do they get along? The most important thing in life is family. And how a person treats their family says everything about them.




Woman sitting on benchBryan Fernandez

My grandmother sitting in the public court area outside her apartment building.




You keep asking me how to live happily, but I can’t tell you that sweetie. That’s inside of you. That is inside you. If you’re the kind of person that has a warm, loving heart, you’ll figure it out. Trust your heart, treat everybody with love and respect, and you will figure it out.









Table and chairsBryan Fernandez

My grandmother’s living room, where she sits to read her bible. She’s lived in this house for over 40 years.


My kids have an amazing relationship. And I’ve had an amazing relationship with all of them. I cannot complain. I brought them over here a very long time ago. I brought them over here to hopefully do better. I love my country, but in the Dominican Republic we live in difficult conditions. There’s a lot of bad people, and I couldn’t trust anybody. I brought my family here, and I wanted to build my family. And remember, family does not mean my blood relatives. ‘Family’ is anybody who treats me right. Anybody that would never want to harm you. Anybody that has a pure heart and mind. If you have people like that around you, you’ll never need anything else.

The court room outside.Bryan Fernandez

The court room outside.



I just wanted a better life for my children, and I got that, thank Jehovah. I came here to work my butt off, and that’s what I did. I came here to work because I was poor.





Gun Hill Rd. under the 4 train. The train I’d use to get to her house when I lived in NY.Bryan Fernandez

Gun Hill Rd. under the 4 train. The train I’d use to get to her house when I lived in NY.



Caremen "Tita" AlmonteBryan Fernandez

Caremen “Tita” Almonte

That’s the best thing you can have, a family. Just treat people with kindness. You’ll always have family if you do.