Although Hector became a member or the gang to protect his family, he wanted out so that he could have a better life free of gang influence. In a strange turn of events and an encounter with Modesto Lopez, Hector wound up leaving the rough life of the street gangs and entered a private Christian college.
Modesto Lopez helped Hector with lunch money, books and even car repairs as he mentored the young man. With the help of Modesto Lopez, Hector went on to become a Baptist minister and he obtained a bachelor’s degree in human relations and anthropology.
Today Hector gives back by mentoring in the BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS organization to help kids avoid the pitfalls of the street and to find the kind of life he did. After forty years of mentoring he still finds the work fulfilling. He is the chief diversity officer where his experience on the street and his Latino heritage gives him an edge.
Hector supervises many faith based recruitment groups in multicultural areas. His goal is simple; give each kid the same opportunity that Rev Modesto gave to him. Rev. Modesto Lopez was the man who changed Hector’s life and Lopez, now 83, says he saw Hector’s potential. Today that simple act of faith on the part of Lopez has helped Cortez to become a great man.
Cortez remembers fondly how he saw Lopez as a nuisance. He couldn’t understand why Lopez wouldn’t leave him alone. Hector’s father died at 33 and with his mother and 5 more siblings at home, Hector had to grow up. Lopez helped Hector overcome it and Cortez has never forgotten the lessons his mentor taught him.
He still feels that giving back to the world is the greatest work of all. Cortez says that the changes in people are the most amazing of all. He has watched the toughest of men become loving and caring people. One example is a Lutheran minister in Florida. Hector mentored this man and later the minister is modeling some of his own programs after the work that Hector has done. Hector Cortez helps kids off the streets and into a new life.