Adilene, an EAH Housing resource coordinator, knows better than anyone the value of stable housing in an EAH community. That’s because she grew up in one — Park Place in Morgan Hill, Calif., formerly known as Village Avanté.
Now 28, Adilene has been working for EAH Housing for three years. She serves two EAH communities in Morgan Hill, helping seniors at one and families at another. As a resource coordinator, she connects residents to appropriate local agencies that can help them stay self-reliant and financially stable.
Money was tight when Adilene, the eldest of four siblings, was a child. While her mother looked after them, her father did concrete work and pavement construction. “If me and my family hadn’t lived under an EAH roof I don’t know where we would be,” she says.
“Growing up as an EAH kid I learned to value the friendships I made and my community’s diversity,” she adds. “I met kids from different places and learned about their cultural beliefs and cultural experiences. Some were Latino, some were African American, some were white, some from South Asia. Growing up there was a total blessing for me.”
As a teen, Adilene was fortunate to find encouragement from a few thoughtful adults, including Chiquy Mejia, a Morgan Hill recreation program coordinator. Adilene met Mejia at a Morgan Hill rec center and later worked for her as a volunteer. “She definitely touched my life, influencing me to do good things, to always be positive about everything,” she says.
Another influence was Luis Valdez, a famed film and theater director she met when he visited her high school. “You’re a Latina woman, you have so much to give to the world,” he said. “Follow your dreams.”
And Adilene has. Her desire to help kids like herself make wise life choices led her to college and an internship at a homeless shelter, which reinforced for her the importance of secure housing.
“Stable housing is an opportunity,” says Adilene. “For my family, it was definitely a beginning and an opportunity — for growth and happiness. I believe in the EAH motto, that ‘A roof is just the beginning.’ For a lot of people, for a lot of families, for a lot of seniors, it is just the beginning.”
The internship was just one step on Adilene’s path to becoming the first in her family to complete a four-year college degree. After attending Gavilan College in Morgan Hill she transferred to California State University Monterey Bay where she completed a BA in social work. To earn money for school she worked summers on assembly lines in Gilroy and Watsonville, packing frozen foods.
Her hard work and focus have paid off. Now Adilene pays forward her good fortune and fulfills her dreams helping EAH Housing residents and their children. “Growing up exposed to all I experienced gave me the inspiration to help kids in my community, to create mentoring relationships with them,” she says. “They should be doing recreational activities, they should have someone there who can play with them, who can listen to them.”