July Story of the Month: Central Valley Family Overwhelmed with Gratitude

Kids get stomach aches. They get upset tummies for so many reasons: the first day of school, the first day of vacation, pretty much the first day of anything new and sometimes because they ate too many gummy bears before dinner.  When *Patricia’s daughter, Emily, 9, complained her stomach hurt for four days in a row, Patricia knew this was something more serious — and she was right. By the fourth day Emily was in excruciating pain.

Patricia drove her daughter to the closest hospital in Coalinga, but after a brief exam they sent her home. The next day her daughter’s pain was even worse. Barely able to stand and with a blistering hot fever, Patricia drove her straight to Valley Children’s Hospital, 72 miles and over an hour away! A CT scan revealed a ruptured appendix and the risk of the infection spreading from the appendix to other organs was life threatening.

For the next eight days Patricia rarely left her daughter’s side. As a single mom with no family in the area, it was her job alone to comfort her, offer her ice chips when thirsty, and search the hospital room’s TV channels to find her favorite shows. Most importantly, it was her job to keep her daughter feeling safe and loved. Every time the nurse came to draw blood, Patricia was there to hold her hand.

Fortunately, Emily responded to the antibiotics and was released to her mother’s care. After a total of 14 days Patricia was finally able to return to work. She was grateful she had been allowed the time off; however, it came at an incredibly high price. Patricia had received no pay for 14 days and had used up all her savings to pay for the long trips to Valley Children’s Hospital and the meals she had while there. Her July rent was coming due — this time the uncomfortable feeling in her stomach was the realization that there wasn’t enough money in her bank account to pay it. At that time, Patricia had lived at her Villa Esperanza apartment for over eight years — the only home her daughter had ever known. The thought of losing it was unbearable.

As a resident of AMCAL’s Villa Esperanza community, Patricia discovered the Partnership for HOPE Fund was available in a financial crisis like hers. With the help of Judith, her Director of Social Services, she completed an application for rental assistance through AMCAL’s Partnership for HOPE and was granted a one-time rental assistance of $400 toward her July rent. Judith also helped her apply for utility assistance through the PG&E CARE program, which will save her in the coming months on her electric bills, and she will work with Patricia to develop a budget to include a savings plan for future emergencies. The relief Patricia felt overwhelmed her with gratitude.

Emily has been out of the hospital a little over a month now. She has her bounce back and a big friendly smile on her face. She is expecting to have surgery to remove her appendix in September, but for now she is enjoying the rest of her summer. Together this family of two learned the value of having someone by their side when times are tough. Both would like to do something for their community to show how thankful they are. Patricia plans on volunteering at the next community potluck, and Emily wants to help out the younger kids in the after-school program with their math (since this is her strongest subject).

Overall, Patricia and Emily have come through this critical time stronger and more hopeful — not a bad outcome from what started as a tummy ache.

*Names have been changed.

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