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Manuel Garcia Earns Civic Pride Award
The owner of a floor-covering business downtown believes in giving back to the community
SANDRA E. CONSTANTINE
February 5, 2003
HOLYOKE - Manuel Garcia, the owner of Manual Garcia Floor Coverings at 775 High St., runs the first business of its kind in Western Massachusetts owned by a Hispanic.
"I am very proud," Garcia said during an interview at his business yesterday.
He added that he wants to see more small businesses locate downtown to help revitalize the area.
Mayor Michael J. Sullivan announced recently that Garcia is the January recipient of the Jeanne Robert's Civic Pride award given out by the city and named after the woman who cleans Veterans Park on Maple Street for free.
"Manuel Garcia does a great job at keeping his business immaculate," Sullivan said in a prepared statement. "He participates in each one of our Downtown Revitalization meetings and does an incredible job of networking and referring his customers to other local businesses here in the city. Manuel Garcia takes pride in his business and takes pride in the city," Sullivan said.
Garcia, who has many years' experience in floor covering, opened his business in the former High Street Bissell's Dairy Building in May.
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Garcia said he came to Holyoke in 1977 because it was the hometown of his first wife, who is deceased. He worked for 18 years as a carpet installer for John Oleksak's City Paint Carpet Center until Oleksak died in the mid-1980s. After that, Garcia said he did carpet installing for Home Depot and Sears.
Opening his business, which sells carpet, linoleum, ceramic tile and wood flooring was possible with assistance from both the mayor and Solutions Community Development Corp., which gave him technical assistance, he said.
To return the favor, Garcia has carpeted a computer room for free for Solutions as well as done some free carpeting work for churches in the area that have been customers.
"God has given me something so I should give something back," Garcia said.
A Catholic who attends Sacred Heart Church, Garcia said he considers himself a religious person.
Garcia said business has been steady since he opened his doors, and that he prides himself on giving good service and being able to communicate in Spanish with Hispanics who have difficulty with English.
"You've got a lot of old people who are never going to learn the (English) language," Garcia said.
So far, he is his business's only employee and has installations done by experienced private contractors. His store is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
He and his wife, Myriam Castro, an aide in the school system, live in the Springdale section with their 18-month-old twins, Janelly and Jonathan, and their 4-year-old son, Emmanuel. Garcia also has two grown children and six grandchildren from his first marriage.