The Chavez family lives, works together

January 5, 2009

By David Hayes

The Chavez family, Yasmin, Adolfo and Olga (from left), all work at the Providence Marianwood assisted living facility in Issaquah. By Greg Farrar.The Chavez family, Yasmin, Adolfo and Olga (from left), all work at the Providence Marianwood assisted living facility in Issaquah. By Greg Farrar.

Olga and Adolfo Chavez are rarely apart. Where one goes, so, too, does the other. The pattern started the day after she arrived in America from her native Guatemala.

“I remember I came to the United States on May 10, 1986, and I met Adolfo the next day,” Olga, 51, said. “We were married nine months later.”

Adolfo, a 59-year-old native of Mexico, confirmed their attachment at the hip. She left California to visit her sister-in-law here while on vacation. She liked it so much that she stayed.“I came to follow her,” Adolfo said.

They’ve carried that tradition to its current extreme, to include their daughter Yasmin. The three Chavezes are all certified nursing assistants at the Providence Marianwood nursing facility in Issaquah.

A machinist by trade, Adolfo was one of the newer Boeing Co. employees let go during a round of layoffs a few years ago. Through some friends, he learned of a job opening at Providence Marianwood.

“I like to talk to people,” he said, figuring he’d give it a try.

He fit right in. So did his wife soon after and their daughter a year later.

“I wanted to go to school,” Yasmin said. “But I needed a better job first. The test was not that hard, plus my parents said this was a good place to work at.”

The three perform essentially the same tasks, helping nurses with their patients wherever needed. While Olga recently moved to the Alzheimer’s Unit, Adolfo and Yasmin both work the Rehab Unit.

“Some of the patients are just here temporarily to recuperate after surgery,” Yasmin said. “I enjoy talking with them and they’re thankful we can help them.”

The schedule works out well for them all, with Olga and Adolfo on the morning shift and Yasmin, 25, on the swing shift.

“I’m not a morning person,” Yasmin admitted. “My dad is. He’s up at 5 a.m. even on his days off.”

The schedule allows someone to be home with Yasmin’s daughter, Isabella, 4, at all times. During the overlaps in the afternoons when Yasmin comes in and her parents are clocking out, Isabella is at preschool.

This holiday season, however, is especially trying for the Chavez family. It is their first together a year after Adolfo Jr. committed suicide. Already a close-knit family, the tragedy brought the Chavezes even closer in order to help one another get past the heartache.

“It’s been hard,” said Yasmin, who was closest in age to Adolfo, 30. “We just take it one day at a time.”

The Chavezes learned they are also part of a bigger family at Providence Marianwood. In the wake of their personal tragedy, the staff let them know they were there for the Chavezes.

“We are so happy, so thankful for those who work here,” Olga said. “If we’re having a tough day, someone will take us aside, ask us if we’re OK. Everyone is so helpful in all the units with us.”

Just about the only Chavez not following the family tradition is Jeffery, 21, who is blazing his own trail, currently working at an Oil Can Henry’s in Renton.

“Becoming a mechanic is his dream,” Adolfo said.

Although Yasmin herself hasn’t decided whether the nursing field is for her, she said she’s amused when others ask about working with her parents.

“Some say it’s cute, how nice that we work together,” she said.

“Some ask me how I can work with my husband,” Olga added, grinning mischievously.

“Whether we’re home together or at work together, we’re happy,” Adolfo said.

Reach Reporter David Hayes at 392-6434, ext. 237, or dhayes@isspress.com. Comment on this story at www.issaquahpress.com.

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