You’re the face of La Luz. Everyone who comes in the door is greeted with your warm smile.
I love my job. I think of myself as the “front line.” I find out what people really need, not just what they asked for when they walked in. I have big ears, I really listen. I’ve had offers, opportunities to work elsewhere, but I really like being here, and in my community. I started at La Luz in 2011. Before that I was five years at Banco de Sonoma, the Sonoma Valley Bank branch in the Springs.
What’s the best thing about your job?
I like the diversity. Helping so many different people get help that they didn’t know about. I really like connecting them with resources. And giving power to the people. Letting them know they have rights.
You have two children.
Yes, Luis who’s 13 and Catalina who’s going on eight. Truthfully I feel like I won the lottery having a boy and a girl. I feel complete. And I’m very thankful my husband has become very involved, very active with the children. If he were the “macho mexicano” it would be hard on him, hard on me.
Have you always worked since you had children?
I spent one year at home when Luis was a baby. Of course I loved spending time with him, but it was a little tough. And there’s only so much you can cook and clean. If you’re not stable financially it’s hard to enjoy. I thought, “My mom’s independent, I want to be. I want to be the one buying even my ‘chicles’ (chewing gum).” Money is power.
So your mother didn’t stay at home?
Not at all. There were six of us, so when she wasn’t taking care of us and the house, she worked as a caregiver for seniors, and then cleaned houses on the weekends. My older sister was a mom to us. And when I was 15 and my baby sister was born, I was a mom to her, and then to my baby brother.
When you were little, how did you imagine your life as an adult?
Truthfully, I was in Mexico and we were so poor I didn’t even think about it. I didn’t have any dreams. We came here when I was 7. Sonoma has always been my home, I consider myself a native.
Any career dreams once you were living here?
I had great ESL teachers. And other teachers at the high school. So I thought about being a teacher. Or an immigration attorney. And I worked for a couple of years as a teacher’s aide.
How about now?
Now my priority is my kids. And I love being with them, spending time with them on the weekends. Having their friends over. When they are off to college, then maybe I’ll think about it. I’d like to be an immigration consultant. My kids ask me if I’d want to be a celebrity. I tell them, “I am a celebrity.” I can’t go to the store without someone recognizing me. I’ll overhear, “Isn’t that la señora de La Luz?” And then they come over and ask me for help with something. And I think, really, here I am on the weekend, in my pajamas. But I will try to help. I don’t mind.
– Interview by Anna Pier