Month’s rent puts family back on track

Growing up in a poor family with seven siblings, Shelley Grayson knew she could never afford to go unemployed for long. As soon as she could start working at 15 1/2 years old, Grayson was hired by Kentucky Fried Chicken. She worked throughout her undergraduate years at UC Davis, even flunking an academic quarter so she could keep her 50-hour workweek. “I … Read More

For mother of 6, apartment a ‘miracle’

Ana Sanders is expecting a very quiet Christmas. No parties, no turkey dinners, no extravagant visits from Santa. And she couldn’t be happier. “I’m just thankful for what I have. Right now, this is enough for me,” said Sanders, 34, as she chopped vegetables for her family’s dinner in San Leandro. “I just want to spend time with my kids and … Read More

Bad times get better for woman, 81

Long ago, when the world was younger and her paychecks were steady, Betty Fereira made little Christmas trees out of ice cream and the rent was never a question mark. She worked at the Carnation creamery in Oakland then, and she got to eat not just the tree-shaped ice cream treats but the chocolate bars she helped make, and it … Read More

Patricia Hernandez rises from the ashes. Again.

In the past 12 years, Patricia Hernandez has lost everything, and rebuilt her life, three times. “It’s been hard for me. But when I think about it, I am so lucky,” she said recently, relaxing with her 7-year-old daughter in their immaculate, light-filled Sunnyvale apartment. “That’s all I think about – how lucky I am.” Hernandez’s most recent brush with calamity was … Read More