Immigrant Heritage Month Story: MEDA’s Lucy Arellano


My family and I immigrated to the U.S. from Mexico when I was a one-year-old. I am the sixth of seven children, and give thanks every day for the privileges I have been afforded throughout my life. It is this gratitude that motivates me to work to support other Latino families to achieve stability, security and, ultimately, their dreams. My family’s story is very similar to many of those we serve at MEDA, and I know that if my family has been able to succeed in any way, so can every Latino family.

“When I was a child, my family and I lived in the United States illegally for numerous years after overstaying our tourist visas. Even in those scary and uncertain times, we were taught to recognize the luxury of immigration by comfortable air travel, compared to the many families that suffer incredible physical journeys to get here. More important to me is that even in the beginning, when I lived with my family in a one-bedroom apartment, we were all together, another luxury many immigrant families do not enjoy. Despite the challenges of no legal right to work and no English knowledge, leading to low-wage employment, my parents and older siblings pooled resources to ensure that our basic needs were always met. By simultaneously working and going to school, over time we have been fortunate to enjoy much more than just our basic needs being met. Each of us has been able to attain a formal education and career and, above all else, independence and choice in the direction of our lives.

“We are proud to pass this along, as our oldest nephew/grandchild has just graduated college, and the other five are thriving on their way. I attribute this to the fact that even in times when we had little financial resources, my family has always been rich in work ethic, passion for education, integrity, kindness and love. My parents, who have been married 51 years, have always supported and encouraged us to be relentless in the pursuit of our individual goals and dreams (despite their sometimes mixed opinions about them!). The greatest gift we have received is always being told that we can have, do and be anything we want–if we work hard enough for it.

“My family has found creative ways to overcome such systemic obstacles as naturalization, formal education and generational asset building. Beyond that, my family has always placed importance on helping others. We Latinos are a hard-working and proud people, and I work every day in the spirit of helping others, by providing the technical knowledge and resources to navigate and capitalize on these inherent strengths. I see our goal at MEDA as that of working toward obtaining tangible assets by building on and leveraging the internal individual and collective assets that are already here within the people of the Mission.”

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