Se­nior waits, hopes for cit­i­zen­ship, knee surgery

Sea­son

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Gis­sela San­taCruz gsan­tacruz@aho­rasi.com

Never give up on your dream.

The phrase has mo­ti­vated many and has sus­tained María González Bolaños.

For most of her life, Bolaños dreamt of leav­ing Cuba to find a bet­ter life in the United States. But with the birth of each of her nine chil­dren, it was a dream that seemed to dis­si­pate more for the sin­gle mom and cook. But true to the motto, she never gave up.

At the age of 60, Bolaños had the courage to leave Cuba. She landed in Mi­ami and as an ex­ile quickly be­came a le­gal res­i­dent.

Bolaños, now 71, is part of the Austin Amer­i­canS­tates­man’s Sea­son for Car­ing cam­paign, which helps 12 fea­tured fam­i­lies and hun­dreds of oth­ers through lo­cal non­profit agen­cies. Bolaños was nom­i­nated by Fam­ily El­der­care.

“Oh, the trea­sures I left be­hind,” she said, re­fer­ring to her nine chil­dren, 16 grand­chil­dren and 12 great grand­chil­dren.

Since her ar­rival to this coun­try more than a decade ago, Bolaños has over­come much ad­ver­sity, in­clud­ing liv­ing in shel­ters for sev­eral years. She fi­nally found af­ford­able hous­ing in Austin.

Her trou­bles were not over. She has two de­gen­er­ated knees and re­cently had surgery on one knee. Be­fore she could have the pro­ce­dure on the other knee, she learned she no longer had med­i­cal or liv­ing as­sis­tance ben­e­fits. An over­sight in her cit­i­zen process took the ben­e­fits away.

Since March, Bolaños has re­lied ex­clu­sively on a $62 monthly in­come check, food from Meals on Wheels and More and sub­si­dized hous­ing.

Now, work­ing with im­mi­gra­tion at­tor­ney Cristina Zam­brano, Bolaños is on the path to be­com­ing a cit­i­zen, but it could take a while.

Un­til then, Bolaños is un­able to walk and is mostly bedrid­den. A glim­mer of hope came this week. An of­fice of or­tho­pe­dic sur­geons is con­sid­er­ing do­ing the surgery. They are re­view­ing her med­i­cal records and

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