2022 Year End Appeal

Paula’s Story

I still remember our valley’s orchards. I grew up, as did the Silicon Valley, at a time when orchards came down, buildings went up, and the semiconductor industry took over.

At 17 years old and still in high school, I got pregnant and then married; but my husband’s employer would not cover me through their insurance because I was pregnant prior to being married. I was left without medical insurance. I didn’t know where to go for prenatal care. I was scared.

My mother-in-law referred me to a clinic known as the Alviso Medical Center. Back in 1980, I didn’t have internet, so to get information about their services I had to go there. The staff at the clinic was welcoming and caring. Because of them, I knew my baby and I would be okay.

I received my prenatal care at the clinic. The nurses taught me how to bathe and change my baby. They gave me formula and diapers. Sometimes my husband couldn’t take time off to take me to an appointment, so the nurse would visit me at home. It was more than just a clinic.

When my daughter turned one, I went to work. Seven years later I had my second daughter. By that time our family’s health coverage was a long past issue, and the Alviso Medical Center became a part of my past. Life moved on and our girls and their sports consumed our time. It wasn’t until Catrina and Ciara were teens that I began to focus on my health again. In 2010, I started walking, and then they nudged me to take up running.

In June 2019, my brother passed away, one day before my birthday. Shortly after his death, I heard about an Inaugural Día de los Muertos Run-Walk that was being held in Alviso. To my surprise the event was being hosted by Gardner Health Services, and the race started at the Alviso clinic! I was one of the first runners to sign up for the event. On November 2nd, I completed the run and dedicated it to my brother. I honored him by placing his picture on the ofrenda (altar). I knew my brother was with me as I crossed the finish line.

2022 was another tough race because this year has been emotionally difficult. My father died on July 1st. On October 29th, I placed my father’s and my brother’s pictures on the ofrenda at the run-walk. Their love was with me as I finished my 6.2 mile race. The Día de los Muertos run is special. It embodies the Latino culture and creates a space to celebrate our loved ones.

More than 40 years ago, the Alviso clinic helped me bring my first child into this world without judgement and with pure love. Today, Gardner Health Services is back in my life helping me find comfort and peace in the passing of my brother and then my father. I want to give to Gardner as much as they gave to me.

Join my family and I this holiday season and donate to Gardner Health Services. Together we can champion to help more patients with their healthcare!