Alicia Gonzales, 40, and her mother Zonia Garcia, 62, are a team, and together they have been working to put Gonzales through nursing school while raising three young boys.
Gonzales said it’s funny though, because growing up, her grandmother and mom were a team and together they raised Gonzales.
“It’s something I watched her do,” Gonzales said of her mother. “When I was a kid, my mom and grandmother were a team throughout the whole thing. She took care of my grandma until she died. It's like the tables have turned.”
The Gonzales family is part of the Statesman’s Season for Caring program, which helps hundreds of families each year through local nonprofit agencies. The Gonzales family was nominated by Capital IDEA.
Gonzales, a single mother of three, worked as a medical assistant for 15 years at Lone Star Circle of Care and decided in 2015 that she would go back to school to earn more money to provide a brighter future for her family. After working in pediatrics for eight years, becoming a pediatric nurse seemed like the next step.
“I just fell in love with pediatrics and I don’t know if I could go back to anything else,” Gonzales said.
But about two years ago, Gonzales knew she needed to separate from her husband. That is when she moved in with Garcia and the two worked out a schedule that would allow Gonzales to go to school full-time during the day and work a part-time job in the evenings.
Then last summer, Garcia found out she would need to commit to dialysis treatments three days a week. The pair adjusted their daily schedule so that Garcia would be able to do dialysis while the boys were at school and then come home in time to help with the kids at night.
Gonzales said that meant getting Garcia to the Georgetown Davita dialysis clinic at 5:15 a.m. three days a week.
“We did that for about a year but then my mom would be wiped out and tired after dialysis so that was a lot for her,” Gonzales said.
And with everything happening she said last semester her grades started to drop and was barely passing.
“I always said if anything got in the way of school I would drop something,” Gonzales said. “I couldn't drop the kids or my mom so I had to drop the job.”
But since then, Gonzales said she has been able to help Garcia more at home. They were able to get her a home nurse on the days after her treatments. And now that she isn’t working at night, Gonzales said she can be there to cook dinner, bathe the boys and get them ready for bed.
And while Garcia said she can’t do as much as she used to when it comes to helping with the boys, she said her main role now is moral support for her daughter and her grandsons.
“I depend on Alicia a lot to help me out with transportation, meds and stuff when (the nurse) is not here,” Garcia said. “But at the same time I feel like I'm support for her with kids and if she needs to be out she knows the kids are safe with me. We support each other.”
She said even though sometimes things can get hard for both of them she said through this all their mother-daughter bond has grown stronger and for that she thanks God.
“I'm the accounting voice and I always direct her back to God,” Garcia said. “I always say ‘He’s gotten you this far and if you continue to believe he will come through.’”
The pair said their faith has carried them through the hard times but since Gonzales quit her job things at home have gotten tight financially. For the last year, the family has been making the monthly child support checks and Gonzales’ school grants stretch.
Through Capital IDEA — an Austin-based nonprofit that provides financial support and professional guidance to nontraditional students that want to move up in their career — Gonzales is able to receive funding for tuition, books and school supplies, but everyday appliances and household items have been put on the back burner until she can earn more money.
She plans to graduate in May and find a job as a pediatric nurse shortly after. Gonzales’ growing boys need new clothes and shoes.
Gonzales said she doesn’t like to ask for help and does everything she can to make things work with what they have, something she said she gets from Garcia. But, she hopes with a little kindness and her hard work she will be able to give her family the life she wants for them — a home beyond their three-bedroom apartment in Georgetown and a trip to Disney World.
To get there, the family needs help with clothing for the boys sizes 4 toddler, 6 boy’s and 7 boy’s, H-E-B gift cards, Walmart gift cards, permanent dentures, a wheelchair holder for car; six-drawer dresser (tall); help with medical bills; WiFi services; and help with divorce expenses.
To find out more about the Gonzales family or fulfill one of their wishes, contact Capital IDEA, 512-457-8610, capitalidea.org.