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

Family members get help with home of their own

The Rev. Aaron Kumlin was used to providing help, not receiving it. He and his family – wife, April, and three daughters – found the tables turned in the fall of 2009. That’s when Aaron Kumlin, who had been working as a church pastor in San Francisco, lost his job without warning, April Kumlin became unemployed and her mother revealed she was dying from … Read More

Pinole family home for good in Pinole apartment

The knock at the door was loud and insistent. “Like the police,” Denise Byrd remembered, her eyes widening. On the other side was a man holding an eviction notice, which he tacked to the door of the Pinole apartment Byrd shared with her husband, Victor Walters, and son. The couple had both been working, but injuries and ailments caused them to miss shifts, … Read More

Mother in hospital a financial setback for family

As the sole provider for his family of five, Carlos Medina is no stranger to putting in a solid day’s work. For the past 20 years, he has regularly clocked eight to nine hours at a time as an event server in San Mateo to ensure that his family is taken care of. But when his wife, Laura Garcia, was unexpectedly hospitalized in … Read More

Young grandmother gets a fresh start

Marsha Lyles doesn’t look like a woman who is down on her luck. She lives in a tidy apartment complex in one of the quieter corners of the East Bay. She wears a stylish silver chain over her black turtleneck, with matching earrings, bracelet and watch. There’s even a newer model SUV sitting in her carport – the rear windows covered … Read More

Season of Sharing helps Pacifica family

Craig and Dawn Miller know that there really is no place like home. The idea of a stable residence was shaky at best after they both lost full-time time jobs a few months ago. With two college-bound teenage girls harboring big dreams, losing their apartment was unthinkable. “I had a very good job and was doing really well, and then … Read More

Food banks turn to Season of Sharing Fund for help

One out of every 10 households in the Bay Area will turn to a food bank this holiday season for sustenance, officials say. Not just the elderly or people too disabled to work, but residents who until a year or two ago held lucrative jobs, owned nice homes and could afford to fill their carts at the supermarket. “Use is … Read More

Part-time teacher, 73, happy to give back to kids

At an age when most people have retired, 73-year-old Carlos Ramirez gets up early for work as a substitute teacher in San Francisco schools to make ends meet. While he enjoys teaching young people – particularly sharing his love of poetry and song – he finds the job physically and emotionally taxing. The bottom line is he doesn’t have a choice. “I … Read More

Month’s rent relieves financial pressure

Claudia Salgado has always wanted more for her daughters. Salgado’s own mother died when she was 7, and nine months later her father moved from Mexico to Point Reyes Station to make money for the family. Salgado said she had no toys, and her new guardians in Mexico expected her to work like a grown-up. “I can see myself in them – a … Read More