Elaine Orosco and Eloisa Anguiano | Credit: Courtesy

Tucked away at a counter behind a clear, plastic barrier, Elaine Orosco dedicated each day to assisting citizens who were homeless or had drug and alcohol addictions. She retired at the end of March after 24 years with County Public Health. But when she applied for the position at the health care center, Orosco didn’t know that as this one door opened for her, she would be opening hundreds of doors for other members of the community.

Orosco filed financial statements and ran payments for patients as Public Health’s cashier, but as lead for the agency’s bus token program, Orosco and her transportation passes got people to their medical appointments, a vital necessity for the county’s homeless community. Just because a person was down on their luck, Orosco said, it didn’t determine the basic rights they deserved, such as receiving quality health care.

The county clinic has been her greatest classroom in life, she stressed. “It opened up my whole world to the struggles and the triumphs of people who ended up homeless.” No matter a person’s situation or circumstance, she learned, they always had a reason and there was always a solution. For 24 years, Orosco was a large part of that solution.

Credit: Courtesy

Orosco said the job just fell into her lap when she was applying to be a patient account representative. The clinic office was flooded with applicants, and her hopes of getting the position dwindled. But the hiring manager noticed her years in banking and offered Orosco the cashier position that had just opened up that day.

Her clients were immediately drawn to Orosco, who has an open ear and a kind heart. Homeless individuals would take a seat across from her, and they would be heard by the nonjudgmental cashier. As they discussed their personal struggles and their past, Orosco would be brainstorming the ways that she could help them with the contacts she’d made through Public Health.

Orosco recalled helping her friend “Rick,” a man who had lost contact with his wife and son due to his alcohol addiction but had a goal of being reunited once he got clean. After moving to Santa Barbara, thousands of miles away from his family on the East Coast, he went through a rehabilitation program with the Orosco’s assistance and began giving back to his community after attending prayer groups at Veronica Springs Church. Motivated by Orosco, Rick called his estranged wife after years of no communication. His wife could actually recognize the man she married, finally off the bottle and off of the streets, Orosco remembered.

Reuniting a family from opposite sides of the country seems to be no large feat to Orosco. She believed each individual deserved every ounce of effort she had to offer. If a person in need came to you asking for help, you do what you could to help their mind, body, and spirit heal, Orosco said. “It works if you work it,” she stressed.

Colleagues Danisha Lovings and Eloisa Anguiano admire Orosco’s ability to do whatever it took to help a person in need. Anguiano, who became the clinic’s cashier following Orosco’s retirement, said no one could replace her. She only hoped she would put forth the same amount of generosity and kindness as Orosco had done for 24 years.

Following retirement, Orosco said she planned to spend time with her five grandchildren and map out a cross-coast road trip over the next coming years. She is also determined to continue helping each member of the community she might meet in every capacity she can offer.

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