When Patrick Martinez was awarded primary custody of his young daughter last year, he realized he needed to make some changes in his life. He was sharing an apartment with a friend and working part-time, but he wanted an affordable place of his own with space for his daughter to play and grow. A few months ago, Patrick and three-year-old daughter Penelope moved into Sierra Vista as part of our Children’s Home Initiative (CHI), an intensive support program for extremely low-income families.
“Once my daughter started living with me I began thinking more long-term,” Patrick said. “I have to start making sacrifices now if I want the best for my daughter.”
Patrick applied to CHI because he would have access to an on-site case manager and support through our financial stability programs. He was recently hired to work part-time for Foundation Communities as an English as a Second Language and Digital Literacy teacher and he is going to ACC to earn his associate degree in Computer Science.
“I’m working part-time so I can finish school and the financial courses will help me make sure the money I earn lasts until the end of the year,” Patrick said.
Patrick first got involved with us as a volunteer. He was teaching GED classes in Spanish for a fellow nonprofit and one of our program directors asked if he would be willing to offer the class to our residents too. Soon after, Patrick was hired to teach our ESL and Digital Literacy courses. He also continues to teach the Spanish GED class once a week and attendance remains high.
Patrick’s teaching career began about two years ago. Education wasn’t emphasized when he was growing up and he said he didn’t do well in high school. In addition, his family’s limited resources and his mother’s health struggles made pursuing higher education unrealistic. His perspective on education changed, though, when his daughter was born. He committed to working hard so that he could go to college and become an advocate for his daughter and fellow community members who face barriers to education.
Living at Sierra Vista has been a positive change for both Patrick and Penelope. They each have their own room and Patrick has gotten to know his neighbors and can rely on them for child care in a pinch. He is involved at his daughter’s school and looks forward to picking her up each day and hearing what she learned.
One of Patrick and Penelope’s fondest memories in their new home so far is throwing a Christmas party for friends and family not too long after they moved in.
“Having the party made it feel a lot more like home,” Patrick said. He added, “I enjoy working here and living here. It’s a close-knit group of people and a better environment for me and my daughter.”