Guest Story: Sweet Dulce

Not many of us can actually say that we have met a sweet miracle child.  Dulce Moreno-Mendez is a beautiful nine-year-old girl who lives in the rural town of Dorris in Siskiyou County, California, just miles from the Oregon border.  Since October 2015, Kiwanis Family House has welcomed Dulce and her mom, Cynthia, seven times.  Some of you may know that Dulce means “sweet” in Spanish.

Five months into her 2009 pregnancy, Cynthia learned that her daughter faced serious developmental difficulties which threatened her daughter’s survival.  Despite counsel from her doctors to “expect the worst” outcome, Cynthia gave no consideration to terminating her pregnancy.  At best, Dulce was expected to live no more than one year.

We have seen hydrocephalus children at Kiwanis Family House before.  In babies, there is often a rapid increase in head size.  Other symptoms may include vomiting, sleepiness, seizures, and downward pointing of the eyes.  All have been realities for Dulce and Cynthia.  At three months of age, Cynthia and her daughter flew to Oakland for the first time so that specialists could relieve the pressure on her brain.  Once when Dulce was very small, she developed a bad cold.  She had a bad reaction to treatment and her heart rate dropped dangerously.

During their first visit to Sacramento, doctors at UC Davis Medical Center implanted a shunt.  Dulce subsequently developed an infection at the site.  During this initial two-month hospitalization, Cynthia lodged at Ronald McDonald House.  Over the past three years, mother and daughter have seen specialists to address dental, neurological, urological, and nutritional concerns.  In Sacramento, she has been treated by medical professionals at both UC Davis and Shriner’s Hospital.

Cynthia brings Dulce to Sacramento a couple of times a year now for treatment and consultation.  A case worker from Siskiyou County Children’s Services recommended that Cynthia check out Kiwanis Family House and she has stayed with us on all of her recent trips.  About Dulce, Cynthia says that she is usually very happy and prefers to lay down as it eases her breathing and swallowing. 

It takes Cynthia five hours to drive between Dorris and Sacramento.  Traveling down and back is a physical ordeal and fuel costs add up.  Hotel accommodations are simply too expensive.  “Kiwanis is such a huge help to me and to us,” Cynthia states.  “Taking care of her is my daily work.”

As we are talking, Dulce is comfortably lying in bed in her room at Kiwanis Family House.  The fact that she is smiling belies the medical conclusion that her condition is terminal.   “But it is really all up to her,” Cynthia proudly claims.

We are only able to help families like Dulce’s because of the generosity of our donors. Won’t you join me in donating on the Big Day of Giving so that we can continue to help more than 1,800 families a year who need a place to call home when crisis strikes?