Nicanora Montenegro

Nicanora MontenegroNicanora Meliha P. Montenegro
District 1 Chair

I am Nicanora Meliha P. Montenegro, a Filipino who migrated to the United States of America. I am now a U.S. citizen. My family roots come from the island of Negros Oriental, in the Philippines. I belong to a large family of 14 children; I am the eldest. Growing up my parents molded our characters to be loving, kind, respectful, and helpful. They instilled the values of education, responsibility, honesty, and integrity, but most of all the value of sharing. Sibling rivalries were not allowed. We developed love and concern for each other, a value that exists to this day amongst all 14 of us! We are constantly helping each other out, and we often have family reunions so that these values will be transmitted to future generations.

After working for many years outside the home, I am now a care provider for my sister. My sister has intellectual disabilities: she is 44-years-old but functions at the level of a 4-year-old. Because of IHSS my sister receives the quality care she deserves from a person they trust. Being a home care worker is full-time work. Providers must be paid fairly so we can take care of their clients. That is why the IHSS program is vital to our communities. It allows people to stay in their homes at a far lower cost for the government and also provides employment for the caregivers. This in turn contributes to boosting the local economy.

I’ve been a member of UDW since 2004, and became active in 2006 after I was asked to attend a Board of Supervisors meeting. I was surprised, curious, and excited to learn more about the union—since then I have participated in many different ways. Visiting other members in their homes had the greatest impact on me, because it opened my eyes to the situations and conditions caregivers must often work with. These home visits helped me understand more about the challenges of being a provider, and inspired me to serve as a voice for other members who may be too shy to speak out or cannot leave their client in order to participate. Since I became active, I’ve attended several rallies in Sacramento and Los Angeles. I’ve also attended meetings and conventions with the union, and I’m a member of the San Diego bargaining team. I served as a member of the San Diego Chapter Board and became elected as the Secretary-Treasurer. Later I became a member of the Statewide Board. I have most recently been elected as Recording Secretary for San Diego County. I know that our union is only as strong as its members! I understand the constraints that we face as caregivers, but we must remain informed and involved. Whatever time, capabilities, and resources that we have (no matter how small!) must be contributed to union actions because it is through the union that we fight for our rights.

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