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Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I live in Lancaster, California. I’m currently a home care provider, but I also work with the union, SEIU 2015. I work as a member organizer, so I do both jobs.
I’m a mom of three girls: I have a 22-year old-daughter, I have a 17-year-old daughter, I have a 13-year old-daughter, and I have my nephew I take care of, he’s 8. My oldest daughter moved out, so then just the two little ones live here with me and my nephew.
The person I take care of is my husband. He got in a bad accident in 2012. He ended up losing his leg, he broke his neck in three spots, his left side is kind of messed up. His hand, only these two fingers work. He was a mechanic, so he doesn’t work anymore, so our life is kind of hard.
What is it like trying to get a hold of the different services, like emergency Medi-Cal?
If you need care you should be able to get it. If you’re on assistance, you should still have decent care. In the end, the state is going to pay for it either way. The doctor at the emergency room, he couldn’t treat my husband because he didn’t have insurance. If he would have had good insurance it wouldn’t have even gone that direction. It’s kind of frustrating.
Do you feel like your family’s needs were heard by the hospital?
Not until I had to flip out. I didn’t want it to be a problem, I just wanted him to get the help he needed. I had to flip out and then complain, and go through all these stages and then finally the assistant director stepped in.
I understand the hospitals need to get paid for their services, but the majority of people aren’t trying to take advantage. Believe me, there are one thousand other things I'd rather do than sit in a hospital. We wouldn’t be there if we didn’t really need the help, you know?
When it comes to supporting your family, how is that going?
We get food stamps. We don’t get a lot but enough to where it helps. Our living right here, it’s cheaper for us. That’s why we stay here, because it’s affordable. My husband gets disability, but it’s not a lot. And then I work with the union. I used to work in a residential treatment facility, but if I work three jobs I never see my kids, so then what’s the point? I mean, I want them to have everything, but I want to be able to see them.
Do you feel like you’re making ends meet?
It sounds like you’re really busy, how do you manage the day to day?
My whole family helps. It gets to be a lot. If I had to do it all myself, I’d get overwhelmed. But because my whole family is close and they can help, it helps. They have kids, too — my cousin’s a single dad and he has three boys. My other cousin lives across the street and she has a baby. We all just help each other. When they say it takes a village to raise a kids, it really does.
Honestly, I’m probably going to go back to work at my other company, but I’m still going to work for the union and then still take care of only one person, and I’m going to be gone all the time. If I didn’t work that many hours, there’s no way we could live.
Why go back to your old job?
I loved it. But the reason I’m going to keep my union job is because I’m invested. I worked on the dignity drive for two years. And then change happened, but it took two years. So now we’ve been working on Fight for $15, they’re asking for it now. I want to see what the outcome is.
I worked on local politicians, and they all lost. It was kind of sad to see them all lose. But some of the other propositions I worked on passed. I worked on Kamala Harris’s campaign too, and she won — she won huge. I worked on Prop 55 which was a big proposition that secured a lot of funding for schools. The union sucks you in.
How has being part of the union changed your perspective?
So we go out and talk to members. I’ve met some people who I’m like, their struggle is way worse than mine. Not that it makes me feel better, but my life has changed drastically from what it was. Sometimes I maybe feel sorry for myself, but then I meet other people who are struggling so much more. They have a good attitude.
We live in a trailer park, I have a cute rabbit, my daughters have decent grades. We get food stamps, but I even give food away to people. We try to help people. It always can be worse I think.
Have you always been so generous?
I was raised by my grandma and grandpa. When we were little, if someone needed a place to stay, my grandma would let them stay with her and she would make them food. My grandma was amazing. That’s the kind of person I wanted to be. I wanted to help people.
What are you proud of in your life?
My girls. All my daughters. My daughter wants to be a sheriff. My middle daughter, she’s about to get an award from Harvard. My little daughter, she wants to be a firefighter. She’s so strong and does gymnastics.
What’s the dream for you and your family?
I would like to save enough money to be able to move back into a house. I just want to be able to afford where I live. I don’t want to move into a house and struggle. We’re still pretty good. Even with the way stuff is, it’s not too bad. My dream is that my little daughter would get better grades and I wouldn’t have to take her stuff. That’s my hopes and wishes right now.