Rene and Bobby Joe Carrasco have been inseparable since they were kids. In a family of 15 siblings, their bond was always the strongest, even after all the siblings moved out and moved on with their lives. Rene started working and making a name for himself in surfing and skating competitions and as an actor, but he always stayed close to home and close to Bobby Joe and their mom, Delia.
Bobby Joe was born with an intellectual disability and has always required some extra care. Delia was his primary caregiver until her health began declining in 2004. Rene did not hesitate to step up as caregiver for both Delia and Bobby Joe.
Rene was still acting, but he put everything on hold to make sure that his mom and brother were well taken care of. He had no idea that a program IHSS existed, and for years he covered his family’s living expenses from his own savings.
It was not easy, but Delia had taught her children how to stretch their dollars and make every cent count. She passed away in 2013, leaving behind a legacy not only through her incredible family but through her community and her acts of service and love.
After she died it was just Rene and Bobby Joe. Rene continued to pull resources together to get through. He would sell items laying around the house that he had no use for, he even sold some of his cars. He looked for the best deals and shopped and cooked smartly to make sure groceries would last. Things were starting to get a bit dire, but he never gave up.
In 2021, over 15 years after he became a caregiver, he finally found IHSS. When he first applied to the program, social workers only gave him 8 hours a week to care for Bobby Joe—not even close to the real number of hours his brother needed.
Thankfully, Rene had jumped at the chance of joining UDW during the IHSS orientation and he called his local office to ask for help. He worked with his union representative to file an appeal and gather all the extra paperwork they needed to win. It took a few months of hard work tracking down all the information from various doctors, but it was worth it.
After nearly two decades of unpaid work and months of underpayment, the appeals process was a success! Rene won protective supervision of Bobby Joe and an increase in monthly hours. He went from 32 hours a month to 226—a vast difference when it comes to ensuring the best care possible for Bobby Joe and a more stable income for Rene.
“It’s my joy to know Bobby Joe is being well taken care of,” Rene said. “I’ve won a lot of karate and skateboard competitions and had the pleasure of being a paid actor but knowing that I can take care of my best friend, that he’s safe and happy, and that I can be paid for it means so much to me.”
Rene was also awarded retroactive pay for the months he had been underpaid, which helped him purchase a new water heater and a new fridge and pay off some of his debt, and it’s given the brothers some peace of mind.
To show their gratitude, Rene and Bobby Joe make their way to the Orange County UDW office once a month to give back as volunteers.
“UDW, especially Manny Reyes who has been like a guardian angel to us, has done so much for us and I can’t thank them enough,” Rene said. “Now I can finally take care of my brother without worrying about paying the bills.”