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Wish List: 'These boys are my world': grandsons need clothes, dresser to put them in
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Wish List: 'These boys are my world': grandsons need clothes, dresser to put them in

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Cathy Hernandez is a Rock Island grandmother caring for two grandchildren, ages 5 and 7. Hernandez works full time for New Choices, Bettendorf, helping people with disabilities with tasks of daily living. The boys need clothes and a dresser to put them in.

Driving down a west Rock Island street after dark, one can immediately spot Cathy Hernandez' house.

It's the one with the bright holiday lights wrapped around an evergreen tree on the lawn, and around three metal pillars in front.

Inside, too, there is a tree Hernandez has found time to decorate in between her more-than-full time job with New Choices Inc., Bettendorf, and caring for her more-than-lively grandsons, José, 7, and Max, 5.

New Choices is a nonprofit human service agency that helps people with mental, developmental and physical disabilities.

Hernandez spends her days — eight to 14 hours, depending — going into people's homes to help them with tasks of daily living, from making meals and feeding to cleaning and doing laundry. It's a job she's had for 17 years, and she loves it.

And for the past 2½ years, she's also had the job of caring for her grandsons, and she loves that, too.

"These boys are my world," she said one recent night, as the two boys with big brown eyes bounced around on her living room sofas, watching cartoons on a large screen television. "I just want them to be safe and healthy and happy." 

A bad situation involving their parents — their mother is Hernandez' daughter — caused them to be removed from their home, and Hernandez stepped up to take custody rather than having them enrolled in the foster care system in which they might be split up, she said.

She bought them toddler beds at the time — beds that look something like large plastic rectangles with space for a mattress — but the boys have grown, and will soon need bigger beds.

Hernandez has a line on twin bunk beds, but the little bedroom they share could also use a dresser to keep their clothes in better order.

The boys also need "winter things" — gloves, hats and boots and everyday clothes, such as trousers.

When Hernandez goes to work, she drops the boys off at Skip-a-Long Child Developmental Services, Rock Island, then picks them up again every evening. In between, she goes to the store, makes meals for herself and the boys, and keeps the house.

Hernandez said her daughter is working on getting her life back together, and she is hopeful that one day, she will be able to care for José and Max herself. 

Hernandez was nominated for Wish List by Tanisha Harris, of Skip-a-Long. "She always gets up and moves forward every day," Harris said.

Wish List in a partnership with United Way of the Quad-Cities that uses reader donations to buy basic items for Quad-Citians with specific needs.

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