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Separated to Stay Together

Hilda Rodriguez never imagined living apart from her husband of 44 years, but after taking in three grandchildren, it’s a choice she made to keep her family together.

When Hilda’s son was arrested, a temporary agreement to care for his daughters – one 3-year old and 2-year old twins – turned into a long-term commitment after he was placed on an indefinite immigration hold. She couldn’t keep the apartment without him. As an undocumented immigrant herself, work was difficult to find, and her husband was battling health problems in the hospital. Expenses started to pile up. After encountering one barrier after another, fear and uncertainty overwhelmed her. Her friends in Mexico urged her to come back. “But, I can’t bring the girls with me,” Hilda reminded them. “They would be taken by the State, and I can’t let that happen.”

She was desperately searching for help through Catholic Community Services who connected her with Maud’s House. There was just one catch. Maud’s House serves women and their children only, so her husband couldn’t join her. When the temporary housing agreement with family ran out, he was forced to live in his car. Every day for months, he parked outside Maud’s House, and Hilda would bring a sandwich to him, so they could spend their lunchtime together. Eventually, he was welcomed to the kitchen table for that short time each afternoon.

It wasn’t easy, but it was the best she could have hoped for. Maud’s House helped her find childcare for the girls while she took ESL classes and searched for work. She uses descriptions punctuated with exclamations when asked what her experience was like. “¡No tengo palabras para decir que asombrosa!” (I have no words to say how awesome!) and “¡Gloria!” (Glory!) and “¡Fue como si Dios bajara!” (It was like God came down!)

This enthusiasm and gratitude is part of Hilda’s spirit. She and her husband, along with the girls who are now 6 and 7, are reunited and living together in an apartment in Everett, but she stays in touch with Program Director Belinda Richey, donates clothing and small gifts when she can spare them, and visits often for holidays. Giving back is the only way she can repay the priceless gift of a stable future, which would not have been possible without Maud’s House.

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