Keeping a military family together can be a daunting task, but when it is matched with the challenging duty of running a children’s home, it can seem nearly impossible. “It was up to me to hold the fort down, and we had two babies at the time,” Imperial resident, Teresa Barriga Salgado, says. “We took on the job and hoped we could be role models.”
On a recent summer day in the Valley, Heather Morales sits at her kitchen table with a gathering of military coins in front of her representing the branches of the armed forces — each coin a symbol of the lives touched by this young wife and mother whose own life has become a lesson in facing and overcoming obstacles.
Luis Jimenez, an immigrant originally from Oaxaca, Mexico, always dreamed of being in the U.S. military. Never being able to achieve this dream, he encouraged his children to fulfill it for him. He promised it would offer them opportunities he could not provide, such as an education. So when his daughter Priscila Estrada turned 18, she did just that.
Lisa Gudino had a classic Imperial Valley childhood growing up in El Centro as the youngest child in a large, boisterous family of eight and definitely had to learn how to stand up for herself. Her family spent a lot of time camping and hiking, and she recalls that there were always neighborhood kids hanging out and playing at her house. These activities, it turns out, were great “basic training” for her future career.
After spending even the briefest amount of time talking to Angelica Garcia, it is easy to see how she has been so instrumental as the Unit Director of the Boys and Girls Club in Brawley for nearly three years now.