Alameda Health System (AHS) nurse Maria Mendoza-Sanchez’s life was upended when she was deported to Mexico in 2017 – but she did not lose her job at AHS. That’s because her colleagues donated enough PTO to Mendoza-Sanchez to accommodate her absence. At the same time, AHS leadership and the late Senator Dianne Feinstein stepped in to do all they could to get her back. Mendoza-Sanchez was among the many people who attended Feinstein’s memorial service at San Francisco City Hall last week, where she spoke with reporters about the Senator’s impact on her life.

“She understood me as a mother, as a human being. She knew what it was to be breaking a family apart,” Mendoza-Sanchez told KQED.

Eighteen months later, Mendoza-Sanchez was able to return to Oakland, her family, and her job at Highland Hospital, where she continues to work today. She has this message for AHS staff:

“I really thank you from the bottom of my heart for standing up for me when I needed you the most,” she said. “I don’t think I will have enough time in my life to thank everyone who helped me to be able to be back with my children. It was way beyond what I was asking and expecting, and I’m so grateful.”