Napa vineyard worker struggles to pay bills after cancer keeps her out of fields

Margarita Viorato missed working. And she needed to keep working. Viorato, a 48-year-old from Napa, stopped working at vineyards, where she toiled in fields as well as cellars, soon after doctors determined in summer 2018 that a little ball she felt in her chest was cancer. “When you get that kind of news, you think about your kids,” she said. … Read More

Maxed-out Vietnam vet catches a break in Rohnert Park trailer home

Bruce Voorhees stood in front of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, put his fingers on the names of two fallen Marine comrades and wept. It was the culmination of a months-long pilgrimage across the country. The idea of the road trip was to pay tribute to a pair of friends who never came home half a century ago. … Read More

Food bank chief works to stamp out stigma of hunger she remembers

For four decades, Suzan Bateson held her secret close — never talking about how she once relied on food stamps. Even after she became executive director of the Alameda County Community Food Bank 18 years ago, she didn’t share that she knows what it’s like to not have money for food — much like the 316,000 people her organization will … Read More

Raising grandkids, a former addict finds an Oakland home for her family

Sonja Johnson married a drug lord after graduating from high school, though she didn’t know it at the time. She said they got high together on their wedding night, and she battled addiction for the next 18 years. She wasn’t around much to raise her five daughters. But after getting clean in 1994, Johnson, 55, chose family. In a way, … Read More

After losing his wife, a veteran finds a way forward and a new home

There’s a room in Lawrence Wilson’s trailer home that he doesn’t go into anymore, not after the roof started leaking and sagging and he had to move everything out of it. The home isn’t just falling apart — it’s infested with rats, he says, which run around in the ceiling at night. Wilson’s not complaining, just explaining why the new … Read More