A Little Christmas Magic That Kept Spreading

Red pickup christmas tree ornament

[Image from CanStockPhoto]

One of my local relatives just told the following story about her favorite Christmas memory. With her permission, we’re sharing the Christmas joy with you all, too.

Our first Mobile Home Park that we bought in September…20 years ago…(it was a rough n’ tumble Park that we totally remodeled…it even had a prostitute and resident heroin and meth drug dealers that we were busy evicting the first couple of months…My husband jokingly referred to it as a “full service” RV Park  ), had 50 families living there…mainly people in the timber industry, seniors and folks on disability. 13 of those families were Hispanics …each with 2 parents/2 children and one RV with 4 young men. 52 Hispanics total…the men were all employed by a local large subcontractor that planted trees for the big timber companies and helped clear brush with a local helicopter logging company. It was brutal, back-breaking work…six days a week.

When these folks moved in, they all presented their drivers licenses, Social Security cards (it was illegal for me to even ask for them…but they showed me), and proof of employment. This subcontractor based out of Arcata arranged to pay all 13 families rent on the first of every month.

Everything was rolling along, when on December 22nd, the oldest of the Hispanic girls, Yurali, came up to my office. “Mrs. Sherry”, she said, “What are you cooking? What is that smell? (My RV Park manager was a woman and had just baked a cake). I am so very hungry! Mrs. Sherry, my people are starving!”

“What do you mean your people are starving?” I asked. “Show me”.

So we walked down to the end of the Park where all 13 RV’s were parked in a row. I saw doors open and Yurali called out to them. I saw all these sad faces. With Yurali translating for me the heartbreaking story came out. All 52 of our Hispanic folks were undocumented. They had been laid off by this Arcata company and were too scared to file for unemployment for fear of being deported. I was seething as I examined their pay stubs…all had been working tons of overtime for straight time at $10 per hour and income taxes were withheld on each of their checks.

After I examined each RV and their refrigerators…they had a sum total of two sacks of potatoes, two packages of cheap hot dogs, and a couple of sweet potatoes left. They would not go back to work until January 15th and not get paid again until February 1st.

I marched back up to my little RV Park connex building office and called the Arcata subcontractor (who is now out of business). The owners were vacationing in Hawaii. I soon received a call back from the owners…apparently their secretary conveyed my heated message to them about their employees starving to death. The owners yelled at me…’You will get your rent…just mind your own F***ing business!’

I called my husband. He was working out of town on an industrial construction job. “Just do what you gotta do” he said. “Make me proud!”.

I called my Mom and Dad and they immediately agreed to help. So on December 23rd, my Mom and I went to K Mart and bought each of the Hispanic kids Three Christmas presents, got each family three bags of groceries and a Winco gift certificate. That evening we wrapped the kids Christmas presents.

My sweet Dad said he had a surprise for me. So the next day, December 24th, my Mom and I delivered the Christmas presents, and the groceries to the Hispanic families. My Dad followed us down there wearing a Santa hat and in the back of his red pickup, he had bought a small Christmas tree, and brought decorations and lights for the tree.

The families were expecting us and we were greeted with hugs and tears all around. My Dad set up the tree, decorated it, and we plugged in the lights. One little Hispanic boy, pulled at my coat, “Mrs. Sherry” he said, “Would it be OK if we celebrated baby Jesus’s birthday, today….a day early on the 24th?” “Yes” I nodded holding back from totally sobbing.

My Dad looked at me and I’ll never forget his words: “You know Sherry, these people aren’t that much different from my family. Your Grandparents came here from the Azores with nothing. They were hard working people, too. These Hispanic folks are Catholics and you can see family is everything to them.”

We hired a guy named Santiago to be an advocate for our Hispanic families. Santiago managed to get the documentation for us to come once a week with our truck and landscape trailer and get a load of food for our Hispanic tenants during the month of January. (In exchange our RV Park gave a 10 percent tithe offering to the food bank).

Later that following May, I was able to write a grant for our RV Park which included getting a teacher to teach English as 2nd language classes, so the Hispanic wives could learn enough English to all get jobs. (So they were much better off next winter). Santiago also connected the families to a local attorney to start the long tedious process of applying for citizenship.

These Hispanic tenants were the best tenants we every had and they constantly had our backs in any situation.

We later sold that Park and moved on at the same time my folks were fatally killed in an auto accident just a mile from their Ferndale dairy.

Fast forward 18 years later…two years ago last May…and my husband and I were on our way home from Utah. We stopped in Sparks, Nevada on the way home and were walking around a shopping center there for a quick dinner in their food court.

“Mrs. Sherry! Mrs. Sherry! It’s me Yurali!”

There was the young Hispanic woman from our first RV Park. We hugged and she had a good looking young man with her. “Mrs. Sherry we just got married! My husband is a Marine! I got my papers…I am finally a citizen and I just graduated from college. Can I please use you for a reference?”

“Yes, of course!” I said through tears of joy. We’ve both come full circle!

Merry Christmas to all!

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25 comments

  • Thank you Kym for sharing that story.

  • Thanks Kym for sharing a story of what Christmas is really about…. the love we show to one another.

  • Work hard ,jump the hoops,learn English language and become a US citizen with out asking for goverment handouts…. bravo! Kudos to the park owner for helping out those who are trying there hardest to succeed. To those who leech off others hard work, don’t pay taxes, and refuse to make there community/country better? ….. shame on you. We are all in this together. Are you?

  • What a beautiful story on so many levels!
    We are all human and we all love our children. Lets remember these hard working families and appreciatethem.
    Thank you to the author for your sweet acts💛💛💛💛💛

  • When we don't help someone loses

    I was in WINCO and this older guy was behind a lady and her three kids. One in diapers. The clerk told the lady the total cost and the lady said she didn’t have that much. I saw nothing in her order that looked excessive. I sometimes wonder how a person can shop and not keep a tab on about how much they were spending. So the lady started picking through her order selecting things the clerk could deduct. The guy behind her told the clerk to put the money shortage on his bill. The clerk told the lady the shopper behind her was paying for the groceries. The lady gave the guy a look as if to say, “who are you?” Then I think I saw a tear in her eye. She bagged up her food and said thank you to the guy. I was impressed and I wished I could give someone in need a helping hand. I am still looking. It may take some time, but I feel it will happen even if I have to wait for a couple of months. We are not the 1% who have all the money, but we do have numbers. We may not be able to give $1000 dollars, but twenty bucks to help out is feasible for most of us. Giving is a great feeling. I hope many more will find your story motivating to just randomly take an opportunity to help a person out. It might just catch on. Kudos to the old guy. I wonder what his story is about. Maybe in his past he needed a little help and someone stepped up and helped the guy get past a rough time.

    • With a little help from each other!!

      In today’s LA Times. Beautiful!!!!

      “After a 19-year-old cashier helped a customer in need, his Texas community returned the generosity.

      John Lopez Jr. was working at Walmart in Princeton on Dec. 17 when a woman realized she was unable to pay her $110 grocery bill. Another shopper behind her took note as Lopez offered to buy the woman’s groceries.

      “When she had trouble paying her bill he stepped in and told her if she’d wait he would pay her total,” Laci Simms, the shopper who witnessed the interaction, wrote on Facebook. “Ya’ll, it was $110 dollars!”

      Simms encouraged other shoppers to seek out John, who is “always singing, up beat, courteous, joyful and efficient,” and added: “He just renewed my faith in humanity and the generation we are raising!”

      When she shared the story, along with Lopez’s photo, it swiftly went viral. Her Facebook post has since been liked more than 4,000 times and shared more than 3,000 times.”

    • Yep….the ripple effect.

  • I love this part……..“Just do what you gotta do” he said. “Make me proud!” And also the whole story. Thanks, Kym

  • All the people mentioned in this story = Those are the type of folks I want as my relatives, the trailer park owners and the Hispanics.
    One World, One Love.

  • Yes! This is the way the World Works.

    The World goes Round because we make it spin.
    A very inspiring story. Thank you.

  • The world needs more caring people like that. Thank you for sharing a truly heart warming story!

  • A very Merry Christmas to you and yours Kym and thanks for a news site head and shoulders above anything else in Humboldt. I start everyday with you and your crew.

  • Thanks Kym….. I needed this wonderful story.

  • S & R are truly wonderful, caring people. Thanks for sharing this, Kym.

  • These are dear friends of mine and they are the kindest people I know. We are so lucky to have them in our community. Thank You Sherry and Randy…Merry Christmas!!!

  • Dave Kirby, I totally agree

  • Beautiful
    Thankyou

  • Concerned resident

    Thank you for such a heartfelt story. This made my day. I really needed this pick me up. Merry Christmas.

  • That is the epitome of beautifully working together to fix a wrong. Beautiful!
    Names.org says this:
    Y is for young, the years never show!

    U is for useful, always to others.

    R is for righteous, you know when you’re right.

    A is for adorable, how precious

    L is for lofty, your ambitions are high!

    I is for intense, your zest of living.

  • I planted trees back in the seventies, when I was 16,17, and 18 years old, and I remember the “local subcontractors” you mention well. They brought illegals up here by the truckload, paid their rent, usually at out-of-the-way places like Orick and Trinidad, where they would rent empty tourist cabins for cheap, because it was winter, then charge them twice what they were paying, while also deducting the cost of their food, clothing, work tools, and anything else they could think of, so that by the time they got their checks, there was nothing left.

    They also got over on them because, while we all were paid piecework, they were paid a flat hourly rate, which was far less than what you could make being paid by the tree. They had no incentive to do a good job, got no training, and thus didn’t usually meet the requirements of the contract, meaning we got to go up there a year or two later, when the brush was twice as thick, and replant the whole unit.

    If I remember right, it’s been a few years, they were the Bruner brothers, or something like that, and they were the bottom of the barrel. I’m glad to see someone did something for their workers.

    This was long before any reconquista movement, however, and those people were, as you say, solid family people looking to be part of America. I’ve got less sympathy for the ones coming here now with the idea of making this part of Mexico.

  • My grandparents also came here from the Azores with nothing, and thanks to kindnesses like these were able to build a life, eventually buying a home and retire comfortably. Kindness is always the answer!

  • Sherry, you and your folks were always very kind. It was sweet to hear this story. I still have recipie cards, in your moms writing, for alcatra, etc. Have a blessed christmas. You are truly an angel.

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