Reina Mejia Hernandez gestured on the bowls of apples and butternut squash, beans in a jar and pile of crisp purple onions on the desk in her sunny San Francisco kitchen.
“It’s all items,” she stated.
The bounty got here from the meals financial institution at her son’s center faculty. Her hardworking household has needed to depend on the generosity of strangers since March, when the pandemic shut down the luxurious Palace Lodge on Market Road the place Mejia had made ends meet for 16 years, washing dishes. Her daughter Clarisa Mejia, 23, was a janitor earlier than she was laid off.
However like 1000’s of households throughout the Bay Space, Mejia has misplaced her job and, as of Dec. 1, her household’s medical insurance. Hers is the story of many households harmed through the pandemic and exhibits how the crumbling financial system has left them with few options — significantly when they’re sick.
At 42, Mejia has gotten good at fixing issues. When her month-to-month unemployment earnings fell to $1,800 from $4,200 in August as a result of federal Cares Act checks dried up, she made up a number of the distinction by cooking and promoting Guatemalan tamales — made with hen in spicy pink recado sauce — and candy corn atole, a heat beverage, to development employees all through town. She whipped up 150 to 200 meals a day in her small kitchen, netting sufficient revenue to pay half the $3,000 month-to-month hire on her two-bedroom condominium within the Excelsior district.
One other problem Mejia has confronted squarely for 14 years issues her son, Obed Mejia, born with Down syndrome and listening to loss. He’s a boy who likes to snort and infrequently has his nostril in a cellphone, monitoring his favourite cartoons, “Tom and Jerry” and “Scooby Doo.”
Mejia has seen him by 5 operations on his ears. Obed now qualifies for cochlear implants — however as of this month there was no medical insurance to pay for it. That’s when Mejia and 9,400 lodge staff in San Francisco and San Mateo — and their spouses, youngsters and different dependents — noticed their medical insurance vanish, stated Ted Waechter, spokesman for the labor union that represents the lodge employees, Unite Right here Native 2.
“I’m anxious. So anxious,” Mejia stated. Not simply due to the implants, she stated. “Since you simply don’t know what’s going to occur tomorrow. It’s so arduous for me to consider that.”
Beforehand, lodge staff had paid right into a fund to subsidize their medical insurance.
The fund was managed by a bunch of eight trustees: half from the union and half from Marriott, which operates the Palace Lodge.
When Marriott shut down the Palace Lodge final spring and the employees had been furloughed, the trustees dipped into the fund to increase medical insurance by November.
That’s when the reserves ran too low to increase the insurance coverage any extra, Waechter stated.
At first, Mejia thought it was fortunate that a big, multinational company operated the Palace Lodge.
“Marriott has a lot cash! Thousands and thousands and hundreds of thousands,” she stated. “I’d like Marriott to do one thing for us. That they cowl us till we return.”
The Chronicle contacted Marriott to ask whether or not it was planning medical insurance aid for employees who had misplaced protection. Lucy Slosser, a Marriott spokeswoman, didn’t handle the insurance coverage aid query.
“I can share that lodge enterprise ranges have been profoundly impacted by the pandemic, and proceed to find out operational and staffing changes,” she stated in a press release.
The Palace Lodge proprietor’s Kyo-ya Lodges & Resorts — didn’t reply to a request for remark.
Mejia sighed. “They don’t take into consideration us employees,” she stated. Now she worries that even when the Palace Lodge reopens in 2021, there received’t be sufficient work for all the previous staff.
Seated on a settee draped with a pink sheet the opposite day, Mejia spoke from behind a masks concerning the despair she’s felt because the lodge shut down. Early on, she stated, she fell into the behavior of falling asleep in the midst of the day.
“I made a decision that wasn’t good for Obed,” she stated, glancing over at her son, who watched cartoons on the kitchen desk and typically set down the cellphone to play quietly with the beans within the jar.
“Typically I take him to the park, and we kick a ball round,” Mejia stated. Or they watch TV collectively in the lounge. There, two guitars adorn the partitions, beside a festive banner that claims “Feliz Cumpleaños” in pink, blue, inexperienced and gold left over from somebody’s birthday. Household photographs and stuffed animals dot the cabinets across the vivid condominium.
Mejia stated Obed, too, has turn into depressed. She observed his hair falling out.
Perhaps it’s the vacations, she stated. “I see a silence. Silence in every single place. Normally we get collectively, exit shopping for presents. However we don’t have sufficient to try this now.”
However she is a problem-solver. So to unravel this one, Mejia packed up the household, and he or she, Obed and Clarisa flew to Ohio simply after Thanksgiving to go to her two sisters by the vacations.
A reporter referred to as her the opposite day to listen to how issues had been going.
Obed and Clarisa had been doing properly, Mejia stated. However she was in mattress, affected by recurring gallstones.
This was an issue that even she couldn’t resolve, she feared. Not with out medical insurance.
“We live in a really totally different time,” Mejia stated. “We have now little or no to maintain us going. Issues are very totally different.”