When the 2008 recession hit, the trickle down to agricultural and manual laborers was deeply felt. Gustavo’s father was laid off and his family soon found themselves in California without an income or prospects. They had no choice but to uproot and join extended family members in Oregon.
Gustavo Martinez, second from the left.Gustavo’s family was in a crisis. In this situation they found themselves in, they worried constantly about meeting their immediate basic needs like food and shelter and hardly at all about homework, saving for college, or getting involved in the community. Gustavo was quickly headed toward becoming another statistic: According to the Washington County Commission for Children and Families, among Latinos, just over half have a high school diploma (51.5%) and less than eight percent have a four year degree.
However, Gustavo was lucky. “My parents heard about Bienestar’s affordable housing, we applied, and soon we had a home in Forest Grove. I honestly don’t know where my family would be without the help and resources Bienestar has given us.”
Gustavo, in high school at the time, quickly became an active and involved member of his community, volunteering his time at Bienestar to teach ESL classes to adults and mentoring youth in Homework Club. Gustavo opened a matched saving account known as an Individual Development Account (IDA) at Bienestar and became the first to meet his savings goal to help pay for his education.
“Bienestar has opened many doors for me. My goal in life has always been to receive my bachelor’s degree and be able to provide for my family. I am currently attending Portland State University and am employed part-time. This is my second year of college and I don’t plan to stop anytime soon. Volunteering for Bienestar has kept my culture and roots alive—I love working with my community. Bienestar is like a second family to me; without the support of Bienestar I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
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