Geraldine And Her 2-Year-Old Daughter Feel Safe, Comfortable, Welcome

Geraldine was born in the United States, but grew up in Mexico. “I went there when I was a couple months old,” she said. “I always wanted to come back to this country and finally I had the opportunity when I was 17. That was 10 years ago.”

Geraldine stayed with her grandparents for a couple years. “There was always domestic violence going on there, so I decided to move out on my own,” she said. “My grandma used to drink. My uncle used to use. I was surrounded by a lot of tension. There was a lot of stuff going on. I knew I didn’t want to be around that.”

Geraldine was doing well at her job at Costco, where she’s now been working for seven years. She moved out and rented a room, and then got her own apartment. But after a tough breakup, Geraldine struggled. “I went through a really dark time when I was living on my own,” she said. “I got really depressed. I started going out a lot and then drinking, and one thing led to another. I started using. Then I started not feeling good—my boss even asked me what was going on, and encouraged me to take some time off. I was so down, I told my boss, ‘I don’t even deserve to work here.’ She said, ‘No, no. Go take care of yourself and come back when you’re ready.’”

When Geraldine returned, she was five months pregnant. “I changed my life ever since I found out I was pregnant, for the baby and for myself,” Geraldine said. “But it’s still been rough. I don’t make as much money as I used to and there are more expenses. I pay childcare out of pocket. I have no help from the dad—I tried, but none.”

After Geraldine had Scarlett, who is now 2, she returned to her grandparents. “They asked me to,” she said. “They said, ‘We’ll be good. We want to be there for you and the baby.’ I was fine with them, but I had a problem with my aunt. There was an argument and she hit me. She has mental issues. She had had a baby and was going through postpartum depression. I understood that she was going through that, but it still wasn’t right. Everyday there was something that made me feel unwelcome or unwanted.”

Geraldine’s mom is in Mexico, and she doesn’t have a relationship with her Dad, who lives in Arizona. She left her grandparents to stay with a coworker. “At the end of the day, they’re family. But I choose to keep my distance.”

Geraldine and Scarlett were referred to the mission and are happily settled in. “It was the total opposite of what I thought it was going to be,” she said. “I feel safe. I feel happy. I feel so comfortable. I feel welcome. And just talking to other people here who are also going through it, I feel understood. I’m working still, saving money—I’m trying to do everything they advise me to do. I know it’s going to be beneficial for the both of us. … Scarlett is what keeps me motivated every day. Everything I do, I do for her.”

Geraldine said she appreciates the supportive environment at the mission. “I see the staff like family,” she said. “They’ve been so helpful. There were days when I was dealing with depression and anxiety. I had to take medication for that. I didn’t even know how to start my day—should I make my bed or get my clothes? Little decisions would stress me out. The staff and my case manager Val were always there for me. I’m so thankful.

“I feel like there is always someone who is backing us up at the end of the day, and I’ll forever be thankful for that.”

Geraldine was adamant about thanking the mission’s supporters. “If this is going to be read by everybody who puts a little piece into this program, I want to say ‘Thank you, from myself and my daughter, for everything you do.’ It gives people like us who are going through a tough situation hope that we’re going to get better. And that’s what’s happening. Every day gets better. Without the help they provide it wouldn’t be possible.”