I was born and raised in Fresno, CA. My dad was Irish and my mom Italian. I have two brothers and two sisters. My dad used to be a security guard and my mom was a stay-at-home housewife. When I was young, my dad would make us stay home from school to work in the yard, so we missed a lot of it. At the age of eight, my dad molested me, and this continued for a few years. When I was a little bit older, I was molested by a friend of the family. Later, I was molested by our next door neighbor.
After I graduated from high school, I worked at the Holiday Inn by the airport as a maid, where I met my future husband through his cousin who worked with me there. My husband had a lot of health problems and died on June 15, 2011 of lung cancer. His brother, who we had been renting from, threw me out of the house several months later. I didn’t have anywhere else to go. My own family didn’t want to help me, so my good friend took me in for a while; I stayed in a tent in her backyard, but when her landlord found out, I had to leave.
I was on the streets for a year. This was really hard on me. I was by myself and didn’t have any protection. People would wake me up in the middle of the night and ask if I knew anyone who sold drugs. I told them, “no,” and asked them to leave me alone. When I told my friend about this, she had her son check up on me from time to time. I went to her house once a week to take a shower and have a nice home cooked meal, and sometimes I spent the night. Occasionally, people on the streets would buy me a soda or a sandwich — anything, so I’d have something to eat. Sometimes they would give me a few dollars; it was really nice of them.
One morning, I was walking with all my stuff and Nancy Waidtlow came by and told me about the Dakota EcoGarden. My friend’s son took me there and I liked it; I’ve been living there ever since. I started seeing a therapist for grieving over the loss of my husband four and a half years ago. Therapy has helped me so much. I started going to computer classes to learn basic skills. I really like it because it helps me to grow and to have the courage to do things that I didn’t think I could do before. I’m so grateful for everyone in my life as they mean the world to me. I’ve been going to church every Sunday when I can because it helps me get through each and every day. It’s hard sometimes. I thank the Lord above for each and every person that has touched my life in so many ways.