Paloma’s Story - United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County
Paloma’s Story - United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County

Paloma’s Story

Paloma Answers the Door to Open New Opportunities for Her Children Paloma, her husband and two sons. Photo Credit: courtesy of Paloma.
  • July 28, 2021
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Paloma is a medical-surgical technician, has a loving husband and three adorable children. However, the life she has now is not the life she grew up with. As a child, Paloma was bounced from homeless shelters, to foster care, to home with her mom, and then back to foster care – both in Texas and Minnesota.

“Coming from a broken home, neither my husband nor myself had very good role models. He was raised by a single mom who worked very hard to support them. However, his father was barely in the picture, and he often felt abandoned by his father’s choices. I grew up in and out of foster care, constantly separated from my brothers and sisters. It’s safe to say our lives were unstable and unsuccessful.”

Paloma aspired to work in the medical field. She tried college, the military, but nothing was a fit. Until AVANCE San Antonio came calling. She didn’t want to answer that door, but she did, and that’s where her journey begins.

“Starting out, my family was barely treading water. It seemed as though sometimes we were drowning ourselves to keep our babies’ heads above the turmoil underneath. There were times when we had to choose food instead of paying our electric bill.”

When they were living in Minnesota, their oldest son developed epilepsy. Paloma was scheduled to leave with the Army for basic training to be a medic to be stationed in San Antonio. While preparing to leave, her son was hospitalized, and she stayed home in Minnesota to better care for him.

They moved into federal housing because they couldn’t afford an apartment. Things got a little better after their second son was born. Her husband was promoted to store manager and their church provided housing to help with their bills.

Just when things were beginning to look up, they were pulled back under. Their second son needed surgery shortly before his second birthday. Not long after, her husband’s mom needed help because his grandma in San Antonio kept getting sick. Her husband transferred his job to San Antonio but had to take a pay cut and a demotion.

A week before their big move, disaster struck again. The house waiting for them was no longer available. There was no other option, so they moved into a long-stay motel, desperately looking for a home. They had one car, that sometimes ran, and Paloma’s husband worked long days or nights. Their second month in the motel, Paloma found out she was pregnant again.

The timing added more urgency to them finding a home. When a small house on the southside became available, they jumped at it.

“It had mold, no insulation, roaches and mice. But we could afford it. We settled in and began praying for a better home.

Meet-the-teacher night came up fast and we took our new baby girl, our 3-year-old, and our first grader to go meet his teacher. There in the hallway was a table set up that would forever change our lives.

I had never heard of AVANCE. I signed up and figured I would just ignore the phone call when it rang. A few weeks later, I had completely forgotten. It was {AVANCE] calling to get me to come. I told her I couldn’t because I didn’t have childcare. ‘That’s no problem, we’ve got you covered.’ I tried explaining that I did not have a ride. Once again, there was no problem. She told me they have a bus with car seats, and she could pick me up and have me home in time to pick up my son from school. I finally said yes. Not only did they pick me up, but they also taught me to be a better mom.”

AVANCE San Antonio is a United Way non-profit partner working in support of the Ready Children Impact Council to ensure that all children grow up in safe, stable and nurturing environments. Each family is different; however, parents’ goals for health, stability and self-sufficiency, along with raising educated, enthusiastic, and motivated children, are universally the same.

“We made toys that my kids still play with now. They taught me ways to develop my cognitive abilities and how to give my baby a massage and interact with her. One day they came to us with an opportunity to get us not just jobs but careers. I jumped at the opportunity.”

When Paloma graduated, her AVANCE teachers were right there cheering her on.

“That first year, we bought a second car. The second year, we replaced my husband’s car and bought my mother-in-law her car. Just 3.5 years after graduating, we bought our new home.”

Paloma still works as a medical surgical technician and is still going to school. Her goal is to be in the nursing program. Her husband also made the decision to go back to school.

“Looking back on the pictures of our home being built, week after week, taking the kids to drive by and seeing as their bedrooms took form, it was incredible. This was never going to be something that we could do.

AVANCE helped us get on the right track with our family. They gave us the opportunity to make a better life for our kids. My children now have a better chance to be successful because they saw me and my husband do it first.

AVANCE isn’t just helping families, they’re shaping the futures for generations to come.”

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