Location: San Mateo County
As a young adult, in search for better opportunities and eager to land a good job, Graciela (37) immigrated to the United States from Michoacan, Mexico. She was 17 years old when she first arrived at East Palo Alto in San Mateo County. In this beautiful, rural-like community, Graciela met her husband and, through the years, gave birth to five daughters.
Securing and coordinating the basic needs for a family of seven is challenging in San Mateo County where, even living in a one-bedroom apartment, the cost for rent can be almost half of their monthly income. Center-based childcare for all of their children would have cost more than $1200 a month, making full-time work for Graciela unaffordable. Instead, she stays home to devote herself to her daughters, their household, and to maximize their paycheck every month. Her husband works full time in a local restaurant.
Graciela and her family have tried living outside of San Mateo County, where rent and the cost of living is cheaper, but nowhere else did they find the comfort and familiarity that they have in East Palo Alto. More important to Graciela is how accessible everything is in her community. She can walk to school, the grocery store, bank, library, and almost any other place in town. She is familiar with local community programs and public services, and can stay informed about the eligibility process and requirements because she knows the staff who support families with services.
Although Graciela and her husband only qualify for limited emergency medical care, their daughters, all born in the US, have access to many programs and services. Raising her daughters in the land of opportunity—in the United States and in East Palo Alto—is Graciela’s priority. She wants them to have the resources and supports they need to go to college, find careers that they love, and be successful. Despite the challenges, Graciela can’t imagine living anywhere else.
Get to know Graciela
Graciela shares about her migration to the US at age 17.
Graciela introduces her 5 daughters sharing their name and age.
Graciela talks about her first time accessing public services.
Graciela shares what she believes is most important for her children to succeed.
Graciela loves her community and would not consider living anywhere else.
Graciela talks about how public services have given her peace of mind.
Graciela shares the dreams she has for her five daughters.
Public service eligibility
Having MediCal is a priority for Graciela but she also shares the challenges with the application process.
Access to services in her community is easy for Graciela because most programs are walking distance.
Graciela likes the service approach of WIC program staff, which shows empathy and “humanity” for people.
Using public services
Graciela appreciates WIC services and wished the service term was extended beyond 5 years.
Her healthcare experience with MediCal has been positive overall. Graciela likes her clinic.
The waiting list to apply for section 8 housing is really long and its difficult to get approved.
Access to more affordable housing is important for Graciela’s family, who currently lives in a one bedroom apartment.
Ideas for Change
More understanding and consideration of that the cost of living and other family expenses impact the income of a household.