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Raphael Rosario

Oliver I Can! Center helps man in journey from homeless to his dream job, helping others

Earlier this year, 50-year-old Rafael Rosario was homeless on San Diego’s streets. He’d been laid off from his job building supermarkets in Mexico. Raphael, who is legally blind, was having difficulty finding a computer he could use to look for work.

Today, he makes $300 a day as head of security for a clinic in Costa Rica. He also has started his own book publishing company with a San Diego colleague.

Raphael credits the OliverMcMillan Dene & Elizabeth Oliver I-CAN! Center for his success.

“This place is like a God send,” Raphael said. “From a tragic situation all of this possibility and hope and everything great that’s happened would never have happened if it were not for the generosity of the people that make this center possible.”

After being laid off and desperately looking for work, Raphael found the expanded Oliver I CAN! Center at the Central Library @ Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common. Not only did the Center offer free computer and Internet access, but also specialized computers for those with disabilities. For Raphael, that meant computers with high-resolution screens to blow up the images on the screen and keyboards with large letters.

Within a week of using the Oliver I Can! Center, Raphael found employment doing promotion and advertising for a book written by local writer Adam Zimmerman. The two men spent seven days a week, from open to close, at the Center. In less than three months, they placed the book on the iTunes store, created an e-book version and an audio CD. They also created their own publishing company, AJZ Publishing House.

Using Oliver I Can! Center resources, Raphael also found his dream job in Costa Rica, “I’m so grateful that this place is here and that I can be a productive member of society.”

Rosario and Zimmerman plan to create a non-profit to grant scholarships to young, disabled writers. He said the Oliver I CAN! Center made it possible for him to turn his life around and he wants to do the same for youth looking to express themselves. “I was able to restore my dignity because of this place and I’m really very grateful.”