Meet Lisa Allen

"My 91-year-old grandmother had a failing heart and Alzheimer's disease, and she got to a point in which she needed constant care and attention. She had three daughters, all of whom wanted to help her, but they were each in their 60s and 70s, and this work is physically and emotionally draining. I'm a nurse and trained for caregiving, so I wanted to do my part to help my family and honor my grandmother during her final days.

"However, I am the primary breadwinner in my home and have to take care of my two sons, too, so I could not afford to take unpaid time off. When I approached my Human Resources department and asked for time off to care for my grandmother and help my family, I was told that I would have to choose between my job or my family. I was forced to choose my job, but it was heartbreaking for me and really difficult for my mother and aunts.

"My grandmother's health continued to decline, and all I could do was offer advice from the sidelines. She finally passed away in July 2013, and I was just grateful that I had the day off the day that she died, so that I could hold her hand and be present with the rest of my family.

"Had I been able to take care of my grandmother in her last days, I would have felt more at peace and not felt like I abandoned my family during their time of need.

"Now, I have a brother suffering from substance abuse and I worry about how to help him if he needs someone to care for him. I work in cardiology with many patients who have heart-illness due to prior substance abuse. I'm just glad that Paid Family Leave was finally expanded this year in California, and that I might be able to use this leave to help my brother during his time of need."

--Lisa Allen, Elk Grove, CA

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