Gaby Martinez had been working for the Stanislaus Public Library for years, and she loved her job in the youth services division. She got to connect with students and parents, promote early literacy and even work with the maximum security wing of a juvenile detention center to give books to incarcerated young adults.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic brought life to a grinding halt last spring, the library shut down. Martinez, a single mother of three who also lives with her elderly mother, suddenly lost her part-time job and her family's only source of income.
She filed for unemployment, but due to departmental backlogs and difficulties, could only access benefits in June, months after she lost her job. Martinez, who lives in Turlock, worried about paying bills and having to dip into her savings.
"There were times where I had late fees and I had to question, 'What am I going to pay? What am I not going to pay?'" Martinez said.
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