Lorena Sandoval was born in Mexico and grew up in Long Beach, California. She’s had to overcome a number of hurdles from an early age. At 16, she left home and was homeless before being taken in by a relative. At 18, she had her first child before welcoming another three along.
She worked in the kitchen in nursing homes and then worked as a housekeeper before taking the leap to become the leap a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA).
“I thought it’s now or never. It was really hard because I didn’t have much schooling, but I didn’t want to let my kids down, and I wasn’t going to let myself down.” Lorena said.
The Education Fund and Local SEIU 2015 representatives wouldn’t give up on Lorena either. They kept encouraging her to take the CNA training program and continue building her skill set as a caregiver.
“They kept telling us, ‘Don’t give up.’ It’s almost like it was personal to them that we reach our goals,” she said. “I’m so grateful.” Lorena learned not just how to become a CNA but to believe in herself again.
“Everything I learn, I hold on to it like the most precious thing I have,” Lorena said.
While building up her experience as a CNA, she challenged herself to keep learning. First, enrolling in the Restorative Nursing Assistant certification class, then taking advantage of the mental health and wellness workshops. Now, not only can she take better care of her patients, but she’s also able to take better care of herself.
“I love what I do with all my heart. I love working in nursing homes with the elderly. I love making them and my co-workers laugh,” she said.
Through the caregiver training she’s received from the Center for Caregiver Advancement and the Ed Fund, Lorena has built a better life for her family and proven to herself that she can achieve so much more than she imagined.
“As for dreams, I would love to do home health and become an LVN. I want to take advantage of life and what is given to me,” she said. “I want to prove to myself that I can do better.