May 28, 2023

Great Business

Business Help

‘He Was Collateral Damage’: Spouse and children Specifics Tragic Affect Of Pandemic On Their Life & Small business

The garage at Ponce’s Transmissions in Fort Well worth is empty. Nobody’s doing work on any autos, and there is no seem apart from for the air blowing via the vents.

The owner, Joe Ponce Jr., explained it wasn’t often this tranquil. Small business dried up following individuals stopped acquiring their more $600 in unemployment benefits, portion of the COVID-19 reduction offer Congress passed in March. That assist lapsed in July.

“Sure enough, about two weeks later, it is really been like this,” Ponce stated. “It’s just — it can be gotten from worse to worse.”

The identical aid bundle also available paycheck safety financial loans to support firms maintain their employees. Ponce explained he acquired a person, and it served pay his personnel — for a though.

In the end, he experienced to allow go of 3 out of his five workforce, which includes his spouse, Arlene. Now it is just Joe and a coworker who’s been with Ponce given that the beginning.

Joe Ponce stands in a garage with a blue car lifted up behind him.

Keren Carrión

Joe Ponce, 63, poses at Ponce’s Transmissions, his spouse and children-owned car or truck store in Fort Value, on Oct 29, 2020.

The pandemic has harm everybody in some way, irrespective of whether it is economic struggles, the reduction of a family members member or the isolation everybody is experiencing. This 12 months, the Ponces have faced it all.

The Ponce Spouse and children

Joe and Arlene have been with each other due to the fact they were adolescents. Sitting down on the sofa in the front business of Ponce’s Transmissions, they laughed as Joe recounted how he launched himself.

“I witnessed her going for walks down the road one particular day, and I guess I favored what I noticed, and I pulled over and asked if she wished a ride,” Joe explained.

Arlene was not intrigued. Joe went all-around the block and questioned her again.

“We’ve been alongside one another considering that,” he claimed.

Joe begun the transmission enterprise in 1979, and Arlene begun aiding out after their youngsters commenced university.

Their son, Joe Ponce III, who his dad and mom phone Jojo, grew up at the shop’s first location on the North Aspect. Arlene experienced to scrub her infant cleanse following he invested the working day there.

“He remaining a black grease ring all around the tub,” she remembered, laughing. “That’s when I reported, you are not using him back above there no a lot more! You’re not seeing him. He’s all over the location.”

Nonetheless, Jojo spent a ton of time there. He discovered how to develop a transmission — a intricate car or truck component — when he was even now a kid.

As an grownup, he was the shop’s office environment manager. He taken care of all the personal computer duties and cheerfully greeted consumers. His father planned to go the business on to him.

But this earlier spring, Jojo bought sick.

Jojo had a stomachache that turned out to be a hernia blocking his intestine, his father reported. Jojo put in months in the healthcare facility, and he underwent surgical procedures. By means of all that, COVID-19 restrictions at the hospital intended his mother and father could not check out him.

“We termed each and every working day, every single day, and we questioned them if we can go and see him. They claimed no,” Arlene mentioned. “You know when they identified as us to go down there? When he was by now absent.”

Jojo died unexpectedly on April 17.

In an old photo, Arlene Ponce smiles at the camera while she holds her infant son Jojo.

Keren Carrión

Arlene Ponce retains her son, Jojo, in an aged image. Jojo not long ago handed absent at 41 decades aged.

Texas Wellbeing Harris Methodist — the hospital where Jojo died — verified in an e mail that its COVID plan in early April did not enable most inpatients to have visitors. They created exceptions for individuals nearing the close of life.

Joe and Arlene imagine items could have turned out otherwise if they ended up just allowed to see their son.

“He did not die of COVID, but I believe that he died since of it,” Joe mentioned. “I believe he was collateral damage.”

Lifetime, And The Pandemic, Go On

As Joe and Arlene grapple with loss, they also have to offer with everything else going on in the world.

Correct now, Joe and Arlene’s granddaughter is dwelling with them, along with her boyfriend and baby twin boys.

“They had been residing someplace else, and we instructed her to appear stay with us, and they give us a little rent, but can you consider if they had to go out on their personal? People today are not able to spend lease!” Arlene explained.

A family sits in a living room cluttered with baby toys.

Keren Carrión

Joe Ponce Jr., ideal, holds his wonderful-grandson at his dwelling in Fort Well worth. He and his wife Arlene, much still left, took in their granddaughter and her little ones to support them help you save cash all through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arlene has health and fitness ailments that put her at a greater chance for a serious case of COVID, and more individuals at the residence suggests a lot more men and women coming and heading.

“It really is just gonna consider one particular human being to get sick, and there we all are,” she claimed.

Joe and Arlene are not lovers of President Donald Trump, who Joe stated has bungled the response to the pandemic. He criticized the president for refusing to pay attention to gurus about how to tackle the crisis.

They’re hoping President-elect Joe Biden will address the pandemic a lot more significantly and offer a lot more money aid for families who need to have it.

Arlene reported she’s worried. She just wishes to see an conclusion to the pandemic and the political chaos.

“Immediately after these elections, I am form of — I’m variety of energized to see what is gonna materialize, you know. For the much better, I hope,” she claimed.

As for their fiscal condition, Joe and Arlene say they are going to be Alright, even if they have to go into personal debt. They currently very own their store and their home, and they’ve designed it through difficult occasions in advance of.

“I don’t definitely treatment about finding a entire whole lot of perform. I am just one particular of all those that’s satisfied just to make a dwelling,” Joe said. “And that was a little something I had hoped to leave for my son.”


The Ponces keep in mind their son Jojo for his larger-than-life presence. He liked currently being close to his loved ones. He was loud, and he experienced a sarcastic sense of humor that Arlene sometimes had to chide him for.

“One particular time I explained to him at the house, I claimed, ‘You know what, Jojo, not all people has a feeling of humor,’” she remembered, laughing. “He goes, ‘I know.’”

Because of the pandemic, the Ponces experienced to hold out six months soon after Jojo’s loss of life to have an in-human being memorial support.

They almost canceled it, for dread of spreading COVID, but it turned out properly. They got a room at a Lions Club and produced confident it was cleaned and disinfected from prime to bottom. Anyone was necessary to have on masks.

About 50 persons, which include Jojo’s pals and cousins, came to share videos, pics, audio and catered barbecue.

It was an function Jojo would have cherished to be at — entire of family.

Got a tip? E mail Miranda Suarez at [email protected]. You can adhere to Miranda on Twitter @MirandaRSuarez.

KERA Information is manufactured achievable through the generosity of our members. If you locate this reporting valuable, contemplate generating a tax-deductible reward currently. Thank you.