For the past 23 years, residents of 141 East 89th Street have considered doorman Jose Soto a life saver. But this past January, his swift actions prevented potentially fatal complications for one of his residents.
A resident rang Soto at his post and said she didn’t feel well: she was disoriented, she couldn’t move, and was having trouble breathing.
Soto sprang into action. He called 911, and then went straight to the resident’s unit and helped her downstairs. She was having trouble moving, and he held her as they waited for the ambulance – and helped her inside the vehicle when it arrived.
Doctors said the resident had a traveling blood clot that could have been fatal if she hadn’t called Soto when she did.
Jose Soto is receiving the Life Saver Award for his swift, caring actions.
“I help out with whatever I can,” he said.
Twice, he was the one asked to identify a resident’s body in the morgue. He walks residents’ dogs when they’re in a pinch. When a tenant accidently left something in the oven and started a small fire, Soto put it out with a fire extinguisher while waiting for the FDNY to arrive.
Prior to working at 141 East 89th Street, Soto was looking for steady work with good benefits to provide for his family. The father of four landed a union job as a window cleaner.
But for Soto, the job wasn’t a perfect fit. New York City winters were particularly frigid hanging from the side of a building 37 stories up in the air, repeatedly dunking his hand into a bucket of cold water.
And he was afraid of heights.
“When you have a family and you need to do something to provide, you overcome fears,” he said. Soto worked as a window washer for about twelve years, until he filled out an application and got the doorman job at 141 East 89th Street.
“Now I feel grounded. I feel safe. And I’ve been here for 23 years,” he said.
Jose says the residents are like family to him. He knows the name of everyone in the 180 unit building, down to the dogs.
“Hey Charlie,” he smiled as a toy poodle trotted out for a morning walk.
Moments later, Soto was waving a toddler through the door – encouraging the teetering child up the step. When a senior came down to pick up a paper from the lobby, Soto reminded the resident that her prescription delivery arrived. Throughout the morning, he nodded to countless tenants as they came and went, addressing them by name and offering a helping hand.
“He is the best doorman ever. He is so attentive. He loves the animals. He checks in on the people,” one resident said when she walked in the building and saw that Soto was being interviewed. “He does all the things. He’s our favorite doorman.”
Soto got a little emotional hearing the compliment, saying thank you and taking a moment to gather his thoughts.
“The people are the best part,” he said.
And while he’s known for treating tenants like family, Soto said it’s his family at home that inspires him most every day. His steady job as a doorman allowed him to raise four kids, one of whom recently graduated from Columbia University with a Master’s degree.