Jacquelyn is a teacher, a Native American cultural educator, a chef, an artist, a proud mother and a grandmother. She has been coming to Wellspring for twenty years.
“I know a lot of the sisters that came through the past,” she said. “They’ve been a lot of help to me and my family so I just try to return what they give to us.”
She is Miwok and from the Wilton Rancheria northwest of Elk Grove. Her family was relocated to Sacramento when she was four as part of the Indian Relocation Act.
They were forced to adapt to city life away from the comforts of their culture and faith.
“My grandparents and my mom, they tried to keep it positive,” she said. “But, culture-wise, we had to keep our language [Penutian] inside the house.”
She said that at Wellspring: “You don’t get judged for who you are or how much you got. Everyone is equal when you walk through that door.”
Her family preached anti-racism. Jacquelyn mused: “We are all creator’s children. My Grandma used to say, ‘Nobody is different, everybody is the same. It doesn’t matter what your skin color is. Once you take the skin away, we are all the same.”
What does being a mother mean to you?
“My kids are the reason for waking up each morning, for my heart beating and for me to take a breath each day,” she said.
She lost her one year old daughter in a house fire 26 years ago. To cope with her grief, she attended counseling and worked her way through college to become a teacher. She started sculpting and painting. Her work is on display in the community – she helped paint a mural on 24th and S on the side of Rack’s Clothing Store and created a tile with a picture of her daughter on it that is placed among other tiles around a fountain at the Capitol.
Her youngest daughter has Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
“Anna was diagnosed when she was four months old,” she said. “We almost lost her three times. But, she’s here now thank god.”
“That was the first time that we were homeless,” Jacquelyn said. “Not only did he [her former husband] beat me up, but it was a month to the day when we found out that she had leukemia. He said that he couldn’t handle having a child that was going to die. A lot of people wrote her off. I couldn’t get on Welfare because they wrote me off. The worker actually told me, ‘You can give up the baby because she is going to die or you can give up your other children.’ I told them, ‘We will live in a box behind your house before I give up any of my kids. We basically stayed at the hospital. We slept at the hospital and ate at the hospital. Anna was in the Tiki Ward – the ward where they put them when they get really sick and no one can be around them. I have a picture of my kids playing under the bed – all four of them playing with Legos and boxes and stuff. My oldest daughters were on the bed doing their homework. I have those pictures and it just reminds me that we stuck together.”
“The kids have been really good at adjusting – a lot of the adjustment came out of a lot of the work that they do here [Wellspring].” she said. “They have the cooking classes and when we were homeless this past year, they taught us how to shop economically.”
The cooking class is hosted by Sacramento Natural Food Co-op.
“I always try to look at the positive side,” she said. “No matter what, I don’t try to let things get me down … we just try to make the best of what we have.”
What do you hope for all of your kids?
“Mostly just for them to be happy,” Jacquelyn said. “Our motto for every year is to strive for excellence. I’m that crazy mom who you see in the car on the first day of school and I’m saying, ‘What are we going to do? Strive for excellence! We are going to concentrate on education and not on other things.’ I don’t want them to worry about anything.