|Name||Rafael L. Espinal, Jr.|
|Address||52 Hale Avenue |
Brooklyn, New York 11208, United States
|| June 30, 1984
Feb 20, 2019 04:59pm
|Info||A lifelong resident of Brooklyn, Rafael L. Espinal was born at Woodhull Hospital in Bedford Stuyvesant to Dominican Immigrants. The third of six children, he was raised in Cypress Hills attending and graduating from New York City public schools P.S. 108, I.S. 302, and Franklin K. Lane High School. Following his primary education, Rafael attended Queens College and graduated with a Bachelors degree in English. |
Raised in a working class family, Rafael learned to value hard work at a very young age. Upon coming to America, both his father and mother found work in local sweat-shops and were later fortunate to become unionized with the International Ladies Garment Workers Union. Living on a modest income, Rafael's parents were able to purchase a home in Cypress Hills. His father would eventually retire as a maintenance worker at JFK Airport; his mother is currently a SEIU 1199, Home Care Attendant. His parents' sacrifice and dedication afforded Rafael the opportunity to learn and grow, and instilled in him the values and character that make him the New Yorker he is today.
An Altar Boy throughout his adolescence, Rafael is a life-long parishioner of St. Rita's Catholic Church in East New York. The late Monsignor John Peyton, the church's longtime pastor, was a close family friend to the Espinal family and mentor to Rafael. Monsignor Peyton significantly shaped Rafael's path in life, and gave him his first opportunity to help members of the Cypress Hills and East New York community.
At the age of 23 Rafael was offered a position to teach Adult Literacy and General Eduction Degree (GED) courses to ethnically diverse communities of East New York, Cypress Hills and Bushwick communities. In his time teaching as a volunteer at St. Rita's Church, Rafael witnessed first hand the challenges that members of his community faced including, illiteracy and high drop out rates. During this time he also recognized that when given the opportunity, these individuals would excel. Unfortunately, the program soon came to a close due to the lack of funding, leaving over 200 adult students without an opportunity to continue their education. However, Rafael's commitment to the adult students and his desire to improve the community did not go unnoticed.
Soon after the adult program closures, Monsignor Peyton informed Rafael of an opening at New York City Councilman Erik Martin Dilan's office. Determined to make a difference in the community and to influence the Council Member to increase adult learning and GED programs in North and Central Brooklyn, Rafael applied for the position and was hired in November of 2007.
During his time as a community liaison, and eventually as the Councilman's Chief of Staff, Rafael assisted many constituents with city-related issues and played a vital role in saving senior centers, daycare centers and school programs from proposed budget cuts. In 2010, New York State Senator, Martin Malave Dilan and the Puerto Rican and Latino Caucus of the State of New York recognized Rafael's commitment and contribution to the community by honoring him with a Certificate of Achievement and a Resolution from the New York State Senate. In 2011 the Statewide Association of Minority Businesses presented him with a "Rising Star Award."
Rafael Espinal is hoping to further his ability to help those less fortunate than he. From a humble beginning, his parents' hard work provided him with the opportunity to reach his full potential and he wants to continue to pay that forward. As the Assemblyman, Rafael would like to see the 54th Assembly District receive all the benefits New York State has to offer, and to advocate for equal opportunities for all