By Brian Villalba
A fundraiser will be held on May 19 for instructor Robert John Arias, who is recovering from a stroke he suffered in November.
Arias is paralyzed on his left side and is undergoing physical therapy. Nina Martinez, Arias’ sister said, “Robert John wants to be self-sufficient … he wants to get back to teaching, but the physical therapy is necessary for that to happen, and it is costing him $500 a week out of his own pocket.”
Arias was receiving four hours of physical therapy a day, but now he has been reduced to three hours of physical therapy a week. From this healing process, Arias has shed one hundred pounds. Arias has to cover the costs of a new house in addition to his medical costs.
He had purchased a new home in June, five months before he had a stroke while teaching one of his classes. “He is out of sick leave and is now on disability, but it doesn’t cover his costs,” Martinez said.
The fundraiser is organized by Carlos Ramirez, who is an adjunct professor at ELAC. Ramirez was mentored by Arias at ELAC and later, when as he transferred to UCLA, he found support from Arias.
Later, when Ramirez was looking for a job in education, he also found support from Arias. Ramirez said, “I teach high school too, but R.J. inspired me to teach at ELAC.”
The fundraiser is to be held at Iguanas Club Lounge. The tickets for the event will be sold in advance. Ramirez found Arias an inspiration in that he was from the same neighborhood that he was teaching in. When Ramirez asked why Arias was not teaching at the university level, Arias responded “This is my community, this is where I belong.”
Arias taught at the community college level with not only his masters in History but in English. “People know how great he (Arias) is for the community…” said Ramirez. Arias was very active in supporting his students by mentoring or just writing letters of recommendation.
So far there have been 27 donors on the official fundraising website. The fundraising goal is to raise $5,000. So far just over $2,000 has been raised. That puts them at forty three percent of the goal before the event is to be held.
Both students and faculty are among the donors. Martinez insists that Arias will be at the fund raiser as she said “I will make sure he is there.” The Iguanas lounge will require that all patrons be 21 to enter, which prompted Ramirez to say “We are expecting more faculty, friends and family than students.”
The close circle of friends and family involved in planning the fundraiser and the care of Arias are putting up a strong and supportive face as they face this recovery. Martin Garcia, a childhood friend of Arias and ELAC alum, said “If the antidote for fifty enemies is one friend … having R.J. as a friend gave you the ability to vanquish an army. He was and indeed is a great friend.”
To make a donation to the fundraiser, contribute at: www.wepay.com/donations/rober-john-arias-fundraiser