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Caroline & Jhadley
Jhadley Sanchez: Do you remember meeting? I don’t remember us meeting at all. It’s been 10 years and we’re basically like siblings now.
Caroline Gomes: Yeah. I was really good friends with your cousin and we were both there, but you wouldn’t talk to anybody. You were really shy.
JHADLEY: True. I’ve always been extremely shy.
We met when we were kids at Hyde Square Task Force, a nonprofit in Jamaica Plain. They had a music program for young’uns. My whole life up until then, I had thought I was going to be a singer. My cousin used to be in the program and she told me about it.
CARO: I was getting ready to go to Boston Arts Academy, where I studied film, screenwriting and stuff like that. We met then, but we weren’t best friends right away.
CARO: Both of our parents were really young when they had us. My parents were teenagers when they got married, and they had dropped out of middle school. We're from different countries — I’m from Brazil, Jhadley’s from the Dominican Republic — and we both moved to America when we were 12. I was grew up in Mato Grosso, where my closest neighbors were a native tribe. No electricity, no running water, no anything. We were so poor. When I started living with my mom, we were in the inner city of São Paulo, and she was just trying to keep us out of bad situations.
JHADLEY: When I was growing up in the Dominican Republic, our roof was made out of zinc. It had holes, and every time it rained it would leak everywhere. We got to Boston and things were still tough at home. There would be no food in the fridge and our only meal would be what was at school. I have a younger brother and at the time it just felt like, if I don’t take care of him, he has nobody.
I’d come to Hyde Square Task Force and I’d just sit here at the piano, writing music. Or playing my guitar or singing. That was my way of shutting the world out.
CARO: We spoke different languages. We were raised by single moms. Think about a regular awkward 13-year-old kid, then add all that. We were so outside of our realm that I think it was hard sometimes to be properly social. When you’re young, sometimes you don't realize how much in common you have with other people. And some of those things you aren’t ready to talk about until you’re a little bit older.
JHADLEY: We went through a lot. And our friendship went through a lot. What’s funny is I do remember how we reconnected. We fell out of touch for a year or two and then I saw you at this gym I was going to in Hyde Park. I was like, oh, shoot. I Venmoed her $15 and said, hey, lunch is on me tomorrow.
We went through a lot. And our friendship went through a lot.
CARO: We were broke college students. $15 was big, big time.
JHADLEY: That was a good move.
CARO: People at work think it’s interesting to see our dynamic because we’re so similar, but I think we can be so different. We have different goals or different ways to get about that goal, but the moral compass and the things that we believe in and the things that we want to get out of life are really similar.
JHADLEY: So, we started traveling together on her birthday three years ago, and it’s become kind of a tradition. We went to Puerto Rico together and we’re like, man, the sky’s the limit here. We went to Italy and Mexico. We went back to the Dominican Republic with my mom. It’s weird because in my mind, I thought everything was going to be the same. I could not comprehend that the world went on without me. I know it sounds crazy, but that's legit what I was feeling like — life went on. Nobody stopped for me.
CARO: Next year, we’re going back to Brazil. I’m actually kind of nervous, because I haven't been back home in a really long time. You miss family. I think being able to have friendships like this helps with that — we're best friends, but we are also kind of siblings. She's going to be with me for the rest of my life in some shape or form.
We got to see her home country and experience that, and now I’m going to see the Brazil — I call it Brazil with a “Z” — that Americans think of. The beaches, the food, the drinks and the views. I always think of Brazil with an “S”: the family, the music, the dances, the atmosphere, the poverty and everything that goes with it. I think there’s a little bit of survivor’s guilt, because I am the first person in my family to go to college, to get the big job, to have opportunity, to be able to afford a vacation.
CARO: I guess the big dream now would be for us to be homeowners.
JHADLEY: That’s always been my dream. That’s all I ever worked for. I always thought, hey, I need to have a home where my family, if they ever need a place, they have somewhere to go.
CARO: Maybe we’ll be neighbors.
Caroline Gomes is a project engineer and has a master’s degree in conflict resolution. She worked at the courthouse in Quincy, Mass., as a mediator before joining Suffolk. Jhadley Sanchez, who is an assistant superintendent, found her passion for construction while building bridges in a science fair. They usually call each other as soon as they leave work.
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