Backbone of Silicon Valley: Rena Zagala
Rena Zagala is a grocery store and retail employee who worked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Vicente Vera.

    Editor’s Note: Backbone of Silicon Valley is a first-of-its-kind video storytelling project. Our reporters spent a year documenting the plight of six essential workers in Silicon Valley—the unsung heroes who clean your house, pack your groceries and prescriptions, cook your food, work in hospitals and deliver your meals. San José Spotlight teamed up with filmmakers to tell their stories. Check our video page for new mini documentaries posting Mondays and Wednesdays in December.

    The early days of the COVID-19 pandemic were a nightmare for grocery store and retail worker Rena Zagala. She’s been working at Safeway in Los Gatos for almost seven years, and Rite Aid for more than 20 years.

    “This is not a bad dream,” she said. “You come in the next day and things are the same. The shelves are empty, the people are mad.”

    Zagala had to fight off rude customers, some even spitting on workers, and coming into contact with the virus to help residents buy groceries and prescriptions each day during the pandemic.

    Meet Zagala, other workers, our reporters and filmmaker during a live event on Dec. 8. Click here to learn more and register.

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