“Just keep going, never give up.” – Jesus Mendoza
If ever there was a story about overcoming obstacles, this is one. Born in Mexico in 1987, Jesus Mendoza came into the world with his feet crossed and tucked up close to his tiny body. He had his first operation at just three weeks old and endured many more, until at age four his heart stopped on the operating table. Doctors shocked him back to life and Jesus’ family put an end to the dangerous procedures.
In 1997, the family moved north to California and Jesus got around in his new home with difficulty but rare complaints; for Jesus, walking involves an awkward and painful-looking gait. “Sometimes people stare and it feels so rude,” he says, “but my grandmother taught me to just ignore it.” Jesus is amazingly and admirably polite, a trait he contributes to his grandmother’s loving care.
Then, after arriving in the U.S., Jesus’ stepfather left his mother and Jesus found that he needed to work to support his family but feared there was nothing he could do. He reached out to the North Bay Regional Center, which put him in touch with disABILITY Services at California Human Development (CHD). By this time, Jesus was mostly using a wheelchair and he anticipated that would be his story for life. But, as you might guess, Jesus did not let his story end there. With help from his counselors and job coaches at CHD, he worked hard at learning the skills he needed to get a job and even found the physical strength and courage to put the wheelchair aside!
Jesus now works on a janitorial crew cleaning offices at CHD. He has a winning smile that comes easily to his face, keeps up with co-workers and brings a paycheck home to this family. When asked about his rough road in life, Jesus says simply “just keep going, never give up.”