Sheri has a degree in geriatrics from USC. She comes from a large Mexican-American family, most of whom are in California. She met the “love of her life” when she was 14. They got married and over the course of their nearly 30 year marriage, and nine children together. He husband was from the Philippines, so eight years of their marriage was spent in the Philippines; some of their children were born there. One of her sons is a U.S. Marine, one of her daughters is studying to be a veterinarian; she proudly lists off the achievements of her other children before her face lights up even more as she mentions her first grandson was just born the day before. “I have three beautiful grand daughters, and now my first grandson,” she said.
She looks down, sitting on a concrete parking curb while waiting for dinner at a downtown church. She twirls a shiny ring in her fingers. “It’s a little too big,” she said. “But I’m happy.” She is also ten months pregnant. After dinner she’ll be able to see one of the medical team that comes to First Lutheran Church on Monday nights to offer services to people experiencing homelessness. “Everything’s fine, I’m healthy, the baby’s healthy. It’s too early to tell but everyone is pretty sure it’s a girl.”
Sheri admits she made a mistake getting sucked into the internet a year ago, and thinking she was falling in love with someone she met there. She left her husband and moved in with the internet stranger, only to quickly learn he was no Romeo. He was violent, in fact, and in almost no time he beat her so badly it left her in a coma for seven weeks. She was released from the hospital in April of 2018, but had to learn to walk again, to talk again, “and they said I’d never have kids!” she added.
Her husband would have taken her back, she said, and in fact they never formerly were divorced. Sadly, he was killed in a car accident in the Philippines this fall. “He was my best friend,” Sheri said. He was in the U.S. military; Sheri anticipates she will be able to collect his military benefits.
Meanwhile, she has been on the streets of San Diego since July 2018. She admits it was frightening every day and every night, trying to stay safe and find the necessities. She was too embarrassed to ask her children for help, but they know where she is. She feels guilty about having left her husband and knows her children have emotional issues about it too, which is part of why she doesn’t feel comfortable reaching out to them.
Fortunately she met Michael. Though they are both on the street, they take care of each other. Michael has been in relationships before but has never had an y children, so he is thrilled about their pregnancy, and they plan to get married before the baby is born. “We don’t drink, we don’t do drugs, we’re strong and we’re gonna make it,” she said. In fact, she just recently put landed a job, putting her geriatrics degree to good use. She’ll be working as a memory care coordinator, and hopes soon they will have enough money saved up to get them both indoors. They are on every housing list she could find.
“I’m not going to let the streets take control of me. I got a job because I’m determined. We’re going to get housing because we’re both determined and strong people.”