BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - Fernando Rodriguez moved to the United States from Venezuela with his brother. The pair left behind their parents as well as many other family members and friends. So when Rodriguez sees the political and economic crisis engulfing his country, it's personal.
"It's painful and it's a pain that lingers," he explained. "I've been here for a while now and you continue on with your life, but in the back of your head you always have those feelings of 'wow, people in my country are not doing great'."
Rodriguez says, for the most part, his family is lucky. They're able to get by and aren't facing the same struggles that many of the country's severely poor deal with everyday.
"There's a line of 50 people to get toothpaste," Valentin Perez said. "There is usually fights that break out for simple items that we can buy at a grocery store here."
Perez' parents own and operate Ranchos Latin Food at 1516 Niagara Street in Buffalo. His parents moved to the U.S. before Perez was born but his grandparents and other relatives remain in Venezuela. Like Rodriguez, it's not easy for his family but they're able to get by. It's the growing number of those living in poverty that are facing the toughest challenges.
"It's more to the people that are more poor down there, they have a hard time," he said.
That's why, 2,626 miles away in Buffalo, NY, Perez' family and Rodriguez are working together to get Venezuelans access to basic necessities like food and medicine.
"We are particularly interested in feeding kids on the street," Rodriguez said. "We have found that a lot of families don't have the resources to take care of their kids. They basically have to go out and try to figure it out on their own. We see people even roaming on the streets picking through garbage."
Ranchos is hosting a fundraiser on Sunday, June 25th to lend a helping hand to Venezuela. It runs from 11AM-4PM and guests can purchase a $25 ticket at the restaurant before the event or a $30 ticket that day. It includes Venezuelan BBQ dinner, a drink and dessert.
The event will also have live music and a DJ. All proceeds will be contributed to Semillas de Amor para Venezuela, a charity that works to provide food and medicine to those most in need.