When Toni Monique Taloa got the call about her sister, Tonya, she wasn’t sure Tonya would even recognize her. Separated decades ago, Tonya, who was born with hydrocephaly and cerebral palsy, and could barely communicate, had left home and moved from one institution to another. She had even lived on the streets.
Taloa, a UDW member, was worried her sister wouldn’t recognize her. But after she got the call that Tonya had coded and was clinging to life, she rushed to her side. Tonya greeted her with open arms and told her, “I love you.”
Taloa, who was already a home care worker caring for her grandmother, immediately took her sister into her care as well. It was her experience with UDW that made caring for both of them possible, as she told the gathered delegates in Boston.
After joining UDW, Taloa said, “I went from getting funding for 80 hours a month for my grandmother to 283 hours. It was life-changing! Now that I had enough hours, I could work with two other care workers in shifts to give her the round-the-clock care she needed. All that was made possible by UDW and AFSCME. I wasn’t overwhelmed and overworked any more. That made a huge difference when I got the call about my sister.”
Tonya joined her sister on the stage, and in an emotional moment, thanked her sister. Then she said, to a standing ovation, “I just want to let everybody know that you can fight back. And we’re going to win.”