Estrellita Velazquez says her children, Angellita, 20; Armando, 24; Dianna, 23; and Elena, 28, have turned out well, despite the family’s struggles with homelessness when they were young.
Now living in Athens, Ga., she gets the crinkled, yellowed page out every now and then, despite the tears it brings to her and husband Raul’s eyes, as a reminder of how far she and her family have come since Dec. 12, 2000, when the story was published.
Velazquez isn’t sure why this last time she so carefully unfolded it that she felt compelled to contact the newspaper — to say thank you for this intimate portrait of a family’s struggle that she claims “saved my life.”
The article, titled “Sunshine and Shadow,” was written by former reporter Benjie Hughes. And one of the photographs, shot by then-staffer Callie Lipkin, featured Velazquez and husband, Raul Galdamez, with piles of their possessions next to the van the family had temporarily been living in.
The story was about their path to homelessness — most of which was the result of Velazquez’s cocaine addiction that led to a bitter custody battle with her own mother over her young children.
The parents won the court case, and Velazquez says she and her mother, Mary, made peace with each other before the elder woman died of ovarian cancer in 2005.