We are delighted to present the third in a series of profiles on this year’s Hometown Heroes who will be honored at our annual awards breakfast on Friday, September 29th at the Computer History Museum.
Estela was born in Mexico City and moved to the United States in 1966 with her two children. “My sister was living in Menlo Park at the time and I was only planning on staying with her for a year so I could master English.” After briefly returning to her native country, Estela came back to the Bay Area and started working at CSA in the late 60s, when the agency was located at 655 Castro Street. “My first job was looking after children and then driving them to their homes while their parents were in ESL classes.”
Now entering her 50th year with CSA, Estela has covered a lot of ground – working for five executive directors – and working in every agency department and at every level. Among other honors, she has been celebrated by the City of Mountain View for her laudable achievements “caring and dedicating herself to assisting those in need,” including the following:
- Directing the Holiday Sharing Program
- Serving as many as 60 clients a day as Director of Emergency Services
- Volunteering hundreds of hours translating documents and helping clients through the 1980s Immigration and Naturalization application process
- Assisting in securing thousands of dollars from federal, state, county and local funding sources to help the most vulnerable members of our community
- Working closely with the Mountain View Police Department to help clients in crisis situations
A self-described workaholic, Estela currently works three days a week at CSA as an Operations Assistant in the Finance Department.
How has CSA evolved over the years? For starters, the staff has grown from three people, including myself, to 26 full- and part-time positions. Back in the day, we were more of full-service agency, serving hot meals at the Adobe House and operating a clothing and furniture donation program. And when we moved to our present location on Stierlin Road, the building originally housed a laundromat! What hasn’t changed, though, is the strong community support for CSA, especially from the faith community, and the agency’s strong commitment to serving clients with dignity and grace.
What are some career standouts? Working with the Mountain View Police Department – they knew they could call me any time night or day to help with Spanish-speaking cases. One time they called me at 2:00AM to help a woman who had just fled an abusive home find a hotel and then connect her with services.
Besides emergency assistance, I also enjoyed helping people find employment. One person I worked with was both unemployed and homeless and now has a nice home and is working as a manager at a local store.
What are some of your interests? I am a serious Raider’s fan and look forward to watching the games on the big screen at my son’s home. I also like playing piano – Beethoven and Chopin are my favorite musicians – and spending time with my two children and their families. I am especially close with my grandchildren and excited that they may be able to join me at this year’s Hometown Heroes event.
Years ago, I studied flamenco dancing when I still was living in Mexico City, and I met my late husband at a folk-dancing event. I try to stay as active as possible – I go to the gym twice a week – and after my knee replacement surgery this past August, I walked up and down the stairs so I could build up my strength possible and quickly return to work at CSA.
How does it feel to be a Hometown Hero? I am grateful for having had the opportunity to work with so many people from so many different backgrounds and see first-hand how CSA has changed so many lives. You could say that the agency has changed my life too as I realized early on that I wanted to spend the rest of my life helping out wherever I could. I plan on sticking around as long as possible!
Please click here to purchase tickets to this year’s Hometown Heroes.