Member Spotlight: Magdalena Castillo

April 8, 2022

Magdalena Castillo cares for her 38-year-old daughter, Leticia, through the IHSS program. Leticia is the oldest of three siblings and lives with Seckel syndrome, a rare genetic condition that slows growth before and after birth, causing dwarfism, intellectual disability and, in her case, limited mobility. As a result, Leticia requires round-the-clock care.

Originally, Magdalena and her children lived in San Jose, where she worked as a clerk for the county. Magdalena’s three children attended a local daycare with help from subsidy programs. When they moved to Los Baños, Leticia attended a day program while her mother worked, and her brothers were in school. But when Leticia could no longer attend the day program, Magdalena knew something had to change.

Then, 17 years ago, she heard about IHSS.

At first it seemed too good to be true, but once she learned more, she decided to give it a try. Leticia deserved an active and engaged life, and Magdalena knew she could provide her with those opportunities—and now she could do just that, while still supporting her family.

Magdalena joined the union right away because she knew it was invaluable to have a strong union supporting her and her fellow workers.

Low IHSS wages certainly made it difficult for her as a single mother of three, but she made it work. Her boys eventually grew up and joined the military, leaving Magdalena and Leticia alone in their home and making things a little easier financially.. Although living on a fixed income is challenging, Magdalena is grateful for the IHSS program.

“I have the luxury of being with my daughter,” she said. “She’s getting older and there are so many more health issues that are coming about, but I’m so glad I’m able to take care of all her needs and advocate for her medical care.”

Together, Magdalena and Leticia spend hours crafting, gardening, playing with their dogs, and finding bargains at their local stores. More recently, Magdalena and Leticia volunteered at a UDW food distribution event in Merced.

“It was our first-time volunteering together and I was so proud and thankful to be able to share that experience with her,” said Magdalena.

Next, they’re looking forward to fighting for higher wages, sick pay, retirement, and vacation time. They are also excited to meet other UDW members and continue strengthening their bonds with their fellow union siblings:

“They’re not just my union people, they are there for me to have confidence and be able to talk to for support.”

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