Umer Hayat is trying to get his life back on track and he got a big boost on Friday.
The Lodi Boys and Girls Club gave Hayat, 48, a check for $1,025 to help the Pakistani-American who has fallen on hard times after spending 11 months in jail.
Hayat, who normally makes a living selling ice cream, said the engine of his tan ice cream truck was broken, and he plans to use the money to fix it. He said his truck is currently used for storage.
“I am very happy,” Hayat said outside his home after a brief ceremony to give him the money at the Boys and Girls club. “I don’t have words to express my thanks.”
Hayat, a Lodi resident, was arrested in 2005 because of suspected ties to terrorism and later pled guilty to lying about the amount of money he and his family were taking to Pakistan. He was released on Aug. 25 and went back to his Eastside Lodi neighborhood where he is raising two daughters and one son in a small garage behind a friend’s house. Another son, Hamid, is in prison after being convicted of supporting terrorists.
After hearing about Hayat’s situation, Boys and Girls Club President Richard Jones decided to help him. He said he raised the money from the club staff and from Lodi residents.
“I thought that it was terrible what had happened to Umer, and I wanted to get some money together to help him out,” Jones said. “I went out and asked people in the community to help support him through this tough time.”
Boys and Girls Club vice president Wiqar Shah said, “It’s the month of Ramadan and we wanted to help him so his month can go better and he isn’t worrying about a lot of stuff.”
Hayat said that it has been hard to find work since he has been out of jail.
“The government made me into a bad person,” he said. “Now, when I apply for a job, people tell me the job is already filled because they have heard my name.”