But she awoke within hours and immediately called out for them.
“It was like a miracle,” Martina, 20, said during a recent joint video interview.
Her mother’s speedy recovery was a major relief. But that fall, as stresses increased at home, the Rivera sisters, who were both seniors, were thinking of dropping out of high school.
Adela, 18, had been interning with Alianza, a nonprofit organization that supports low-income families in Manhattan and the Bronx. It is a division of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, one of the 10 organizations supported by The Fund.
When Alianza staff learned that the Rivera sisters were going to drop out, they urged them to stay in school.
The sisters hung on and moved from their home into a shelter with their mother in April. They managed to graduate with honors, and Alianza continued to show support. In June, Catholic Charities Community Services, part of Catholic Charities, used $485 from The Fund to buy the sisters gift cards, a table and a speaker as they settled into their new living situation.
Adela and Olga now work as home health aides. Adela had planned to enroll in the fall at a community college in Manhattan to study accounting and was granted financial aid, but she decided to postpone. “Life was like a mess,” she said. The stress of living in the shelter during the pandemic while working a full-time job made it difficult for her to focus on college.
Yet life is taking a turn for the better. In November, Adela, Martina and Olga moved into a transitional housing apartment, where they can stay for a year or two as they plan their next steps. The sisters may wait until next fall to start college, once they feel more financially secure.