Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes ofwebsite accessibility
Close Alert

Fall River community rallies around panhandling violinist

The Fall River community is rallying around a panhandling violinist. (Submitted photo)
The Fall River community is rallying around a panhandling violinist. (Submitted photo)
Facebook Share IconTwitter Share IconEmail Share Icon

A Fall River police officer and the community have rallied behind a panhandler to help his family in every way possible.

On Friday night, Fall River Police Officer Kevin Lopes was dispatched to a Stop and Shop for a report of a panhandler in the parking lot.

"I arrived there, and I can actually hear the music playing. I didn't know if it was a car," said Lopes. "It was really good music. Me being a musician myself, I could tell he had a lot of talent."

Marius Nicolae was the man with the violin nearby his sign that read "Please Help Me, I Need Help for Diapers, Milk and Rent. I Have 3 Kids. Pray for Me, God Bless You."

Lopes approached him and learned more about his life.

Originally from Romania, he'd been living in Italy with his family. They traveled to the United States several months ago when granted a tourist visa.

Lopes learned Nicolae had been looking for work. He said he was in the process of trying to extend his visa and get a work permit. He plays the violin daily in hopes of getting money so he could afford a hotel for his family to stay in.

He's in America working toward the "American Dream."

"I try to do what I can like [play] music to support the family during time to get the documents," said Nicolae. "I visited the U.S. in 2017. The people that are here they're so lovely. It's like something you feel hope."

Nicolae told Lopes about his very rewarding music background that was put on pause due to complications with one of his wife's pregnancy.

"Myself, being a musician, I really enjoyed listening to him, but I knew I had a job to do, so I spoke to Marius briefly insured he was OK and then I spoke to the manager of Stop and Shop. They were very receptive to allowing Marius to continue to play," said Lopes.

Lopes took it a step further.

He called his wife and booked Marius a two-night stay at a local hotel. He posted Marius's story to Facebook and the community rallied together. 30 additional nights were booked and paid for at the hotel.

"I think it's important to go that extra mile spend that extra ten-minute speaking to someone learn their story. Many people will look at Marius as a panhandler that they want removed but they don't know the story of Marius and his 3 beautiful children," said Lopes. "Our community, it shows you that there is a lot of good being done."

"Kevin, after doing that all for me he asked me what I need," said Nicolae. "I tell him that I need help to get documents to work legally."

Ricky Tith, a community activist from Fall River, heard about his story, too.

He said he received several messages from people asking if he could help with Nicolae's case. He touched base with Lopes.

"My wife was like, 'Let's go hun. Let's go to the hotel right now'," said Tith. "I looked at the case it could be done."

According to Tith, Nicolae's visa extension is in the "pending process" and he doesn't know the status of it.

He applied for a work visa and permanent residence but needed a sponsor. They are now working to sort it all out.

"I will try the best way I can to help him out," said Tith. "When you see something like this you want to jump out and help anyway you can."

"He is the only one I met this year in the U.S. that he decided to don't give up and help me with everything," said Nicolae, who is still learning English. "He changed my life."

On Sunday, Lopes invites Nicolae and his family over for Father's Day.

"When I see Marius, I see my dad who is an immigrant that came here very young," said Lopes. "To be able to help him and his wife and children was very important to me."

Nicolae was invited by the owner of Agoro's in Somerset to play his violin for tips on Wednesday evening from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

"Marius is a very humble man," said Lopes. "He's not a poor man. He's rich with love, he's rich with family, and that's what I am as well," said Lopes.

Anyone who would like to help Nicolae's family can do so by donating through Venmo at MariusLuigi-Nicolae or reaching out to the Fall River Police Department and asking for Lopes.

Loading ...