Born in San Salvador, El Salvador in 1997, Ulises Chavez was separated from his parents at a very young age. His parents moved to New York when he was just an infant, with the goal of raising enough money to one day have Uli brought to America to be with them. After spending the first nine years of his life being raised by his aunt and two uncles in El Salvador, Uli’s parents were finally able to raise enough money to arrange for Uli to be reunited with his parents in America in 2007. Uli and his then-16-year-old cousin were driven across the U.S.-Mexico border, and brought to Long Island, New York.
Today, Uli spends most of his time working at Holiday Farms, a supermarket in Glen Head, New York. He is trying to make and save enough money to afford to go to college.
Uli says he enjoys living in America much more than El Salvador. “You get more rights [in America].”
One of Uli’s many responsibilities at Holiday Farms is stacking the shelves.
In order to get to the items, Uli needs to use a cutting tool to quickly and neatly open the bags of goods.
Stacking the shelves requires Uli to carry many different goods from the back room to the aisle they are supposed to be in. When the shelves are completely filled, the leftover products are brought to the back room until the shelves need to be restocked again. In this picture, Uli is using a U-shaped wagon (referred to as a U-boat) to push the leftover goods to the back room.
Occasionally, Uli is called upon to change the machines used to recycle plastic bottles, glass bottles and cans. He has to drop off the recyclables at a loading station in the back of the store, where a truck picks it up and takes it to a recycling plant.
When the cardboard compactor in the back room begins to overflow, it is Uli’s job to empty it out and move the giant cardboard stack to the loading station, where it will be sent to the recycling plant.
The process of moving the cardboard stack includes multiple steps. First, Uli needs to get a big wooden pallet, and place it next to the compactor.
Next, he needs to insert thin metal wire through the back of the compactor, before tying the wires together in the front. This allows for the compacted cardboard to stay together when it is moved.
Then, the metal plate holding the cardboard in place is lifted with the push of a button, allowing for the cardboard to fall on the pallet. After this, a forklift is used to move the cardboard on the pallet to the loading area.
While Uli hopes to one day attend and graduate from college after he saves enough money to be able to do so, he says his ultimate goal is to become an electrician, as well as to get married and have a family in Long Island.