Videos

Backbone of Silicon Valley: Anna Isabel Garcia

Anna Isabel Garcia worked as a nurse at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We didn’t know what we were facing,” she said. “The hardest part was watching a lot of patients die.”

Then she got COVID. She felt like she was hit by a bus. “I was really scared,” she said.

Returning to work after she recovered gave her anxiety. Garcia is the main provider for her family and didn’t want to make them sick. But she remained true to her calling.

“Being a nurse, I am responsible for my patients,” she said, “and I wanted to continue caring for them.”
Backbone of Silicon Valley: Anna Isabel Garcia

Backbone of Silicon Valley: Anna Isabel Garcia

Anna Isabel Garcia worked as a nurse at Santa Clara Valley Medical Center through the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We didn’t know what we were facing,” she said. “The hardest part was watching a lot of patients die.”

Then she got COVID. She felt like she was hit by a bus. “I was really scared,” she said.

Returning to work after she recovered gave her anxiety. Garcia is the main provider for her family and didn’t want to make them sick. But she remained true to her calling.

“Being a nurse, I am responsible for my patients,” she said, “and I wanted to continue caring for them.”
Backbone of Silicon Valley: Raymond

Backbone of Silicon Valley: Raymond "RJ" Ramsey

After a divorce tore his life apart, former lawyer Raymond "RJ" Ramsey became homeless. Now he lives at San Jose’s Second Street Studios, but he hasn’t forgotten the experience of living on the streets -- and he put his life at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic to help homeless residents.

Ramsey volunteers with the Unhoused Response Group, which provides homeless people with food, water, clothing, blankets and COVID kits that include masks and hand sanitizer. Ramsey never knows if the people he's helping have COVID.

Despite risking his own life, Ramsey said he feels a calling to help others who are still living in the shadows.

“We look for the people that nobody else finds,” he said. “We’re just formerly homeless people who want to give back.”
Backbone of Silicon Valley: Hilda Hernandez

Backbone of Silicon Valley: Hilda Hernandez

Hilda Hernandez, a fast food worker at a Gilroy McDonald’s for more than 20 years, showed up at work every day fearing she would contract the deadly coronavirus.

When her employer failed to provide face masks and enough sick days, Hernandez felt she had only one choice: strike.

“They don’t care that we are here to help them make money,” she said. “You are a worker (to them) and that is all.”

She says there are many more workers who are treated badly just like her but are afraid to speak out—she’s fighting for them.
Backbone of Silicon Valley: Daryush Khodadadi Mobarakeh

Backbone of Silicon Valley: Daryush Khodadadi Mobarakeh

The early days of the pandemic were filled with questions for Daryush Khodadadi-Mobarakeh, a South Bay gig worker for Uber, Lyft and DoorDash. Will there be a vaccine? How will I protect myself from passengers? These are questions he faced as he risked his life as an essential worker during the pandemic.

Gig companies were slow to protect drivers—failing to provide PPE or hazard pay—which didn’t assuage his fears.

“I've worked with them for many, many years and I know how they work,” he said. "They try to take advantage of their drivers."

As an independent contractor, Khodadadi-Mobarakeh works hard to make his own hours, pick up orders and set his schedule. He wants gig companies to do their part.
Backbone of Silicon Valley: Rena Zagala

Backbone of Silicon Valley: Rena Zagala

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 customers buy groceries and prescriptions each day during the pandemic.
Backbone of Silicon Valley: Yurina Guzman

Backbone of Silicon Valley: Yurina Guzman

With her life in danger following a court case, Yurina Guzman fled Guadalajara, Mexico where she worked as a nurse.

Being a house cleaner was an adjustment; she cried while cleaning the first house. Guzman, who gets paid $15 an hour, finds it hard to get by.

During the pandemic, Guzman put her life at risk as a house cleaner and worried about getting COVID and giving it to her family.

“Staying home during the pandemic wasn’t an option for me,” she said. “I was the only one working because my kids lost their jobs.”

Being undocumented is another hurdle. “The life of an undocumented immigrant is a life of stress and daily challenges,” Guzman said.
Backbone of Silicon Valley forum

Backbone of Silicon Valley forum

San José Spotlight spent the past year documenting the plight of six essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic in a first-of-its-kind documentary series. Meet three of those unsung heroes in a live event.

Moderated by reporters Lloyd Alaban and Lorraine Gabbert. Panel includes filmmaker Jonathan Velasquez of Hella Good Media.
Backbone of Silicon Valley trailer

Backbone of Silicon Valley trailer

Backbone of Silicon Valley is a first-of-its-kind video storytelling project from San José Spotlight. 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.

Other Videos

Election 2022

San Jose Mayoral Candidate Forum 2022

San Jose Mayoral Candidate Forum 2022

San Jose City Council Candidate Forum 2022

San Jose City Council Candidate Forum 2022

County and State Candidate Forum 2022

County and State Candidate Forum 2022

Panel Discussions

Common Ground: Gun Policy in Silicon Valley

Common Ground: Gun Policy in Silicon Valley

Understanding Emergency Rent Relief in Santa Clara County

Understanding Emergency Rent Relief in Santa Clara County

Surviving COVID-19: What’s Next for Downtown San Jose?

Surviving COVID-19: What’s Next for Downtown San Jose?

What are the opportunities post-COVID-19 when business is back to usual? Hear from our distinguished panel on the future of downtown San Jose and its economic recovery.
Opportunity Housing: EXPLAINED

Opportunity Housing: EXPLAINED

First Amendment Under Fire

First Amendment Under Fire

What has San Jose — its people, elected leaders and civic institutions — learned from a season of protest? How does a community balance First Amendment rights with public safety? Presented by San José Spotlight and First Amendment Coalition.
Bridging the Divide: A Reflection on Race and Equity

Bridging the Divide: A Reflection on Race and Equity

In Your Backyard: A forum on lived experiences

In Your Backyard: A forum on lived experiences

During Affordable Housing Month, we partnered with Silicon Valley At Home and Second Street Voices for a live discussion with writers from our In Your Backyard column, which features current and formerly homeless individuals who share their stories about living — and surviving — on the streets of Silicon Valley.

More details: https://sanjosespotlight.com/event/in-your-backyard-a-forum-on-lived-experiences/

San Jose Speaks

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with Superintendent of Schools Mary Ann Dewan

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with Congressman Ro Khanna

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with Congressman Ro Khanna

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with San Jose Police Chief Anthony Mata

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with VTA General Manager Nuria Fernandez

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with VTA General Manager Nuria Fernandez

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with IPA Shivaun Nurre

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with IPA Shivaun Nurre

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren

San Jose Speaks: A conversation with Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren

COVID-19

Santa Clara County's top health leader reflects as COVID-19 restrictions lift

Santa Clara County's top health leader reflects as COVID-19 restrictions lift

The first COVID-19 vaccine in Santa Clara County

The first COVID-19 vaccine in Santa Clara County

This San Jose man, a nurse at a post-acute care facility, is the first to receive Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds on Dec. 17.
San Jose restaurants to close in-person dining due to COVID-19

San Jose restaurants to close in-person dining due to COVID-19

Santa Clara County unveils COVID-19 vaccine plan as hospitalizations hit records

Santa Clara County unveils COVID-19 vaccine plan as hospitalizations hit records

Santa Clara County moves to most restrictive COVID-19 tier

Santa Clara County moves to most restrictive COVID-19 tier

Santa Clara County COVID-19 cases double, indoor dining to halt

Santa Clara County COVID-19 cases double, indoor dining to halt

Santa Clara County sees surge in COVID-19 cases

Santa Clara County sees surge in COVID-19 cases

Santa Clara County extends shelter-at-home order

Santa Clara County extends shelter-at-home order

Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors President Cindy Chavez discusses the decision to extend the county's stay-at-home order amid the COVID-19 pandemic until the end of May.
San José Spotlight reporter Katie Lauer gets a COVID-19 test

San José Spotlight reporter Katie Lauer gets a COVID-19 test

Santa Clara County vaccinating 6,000 people per day

Santa Clara County vaccinating 6,000 people per day

VTA steps up cleaning measures amid coronavirus outbreak

VTA steps up cleaning measures amid coronavirus outbreak

Homelessness

Food trucks rescue Christmas dinner for San Jose homeless

Food trucks rescue Christmas dinner for San Jose homeless

Tombstones honor 196 homeless people who died in Silicon Valley

Tombstones honor 196 homeless people who died in Silicon Valley

Activists protest sweep of San Jose homeless camp

Activists protest sweep of San Jose homeless camp

Breaking News

San Jose mall employees decry new parking fees

San Jose mall employees decry new parking fees

A grandparent reacted to SJUSD's vote to bring police back as security

A grandparent reacted to SJUSD's vote to bring police back as security

San Jose mourns VTA workers killed in mass shooting

San Jose mourns VTA workers killed in mass shooting

San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez discusses VTA mass shooting

San Jose Councilmember Raul Peralez discusses VTA mass shooting

San Jose resident fights restraining order after 'cop watch'

San Jose resident fights restraining order after 'cop watch'

Tenants mount courthouse protest to end evictions in Santa Clara County

Tenants mount courthouse protest to end evictions in Santa Clara County

Trump supporters held a ‘stop the steal’ protest in San Jose

Trump supporters held a ‘stop the steal’ protest in San Jose

San Jose police shoot protester six times

San Jose police shoot protester six times

Nonprofits quit Silicon Valley Organization, demand CEO resigns over racist image

Nonprofits quit Silicon Valley Organization, demand CEO resigns over racist image

Demonstrators stop Highway 101 traffic during George Floyd protest in San Jose

Demonstrators stop Highway 101 traffic during George Floyd protest in San Jose

San Jose police fire rubber rounds, spray tear gas during George Floyd protest

San Jose police fire rubber rounds, spray tear gas during George Floyd protest

Man says he was stuck by San Jose officer during George Floyd protest

Man says he was stuck by San Jose officer during George Floyd protest

Election 2020

Election 2020: David Cohen

Election 2020: David Cohen

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Dev Davis

Election 2020: Dev Davis

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Jake Tonkel

Election 2020: Jake Tonkel

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Otto Lee

Election 2020: Otto Lee

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Kansen Chu

Election 2020: Kansen Chu

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Bob Brunton

Election 2020: Bob Brunton

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Santa Clara County's new voting system

Election 2020: Santa Clara County's new voting system

Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters Shannon Bushey talks to San José Spotlight about the county's new all-mail voting system and vote centers.
Election 2020: Ann Ravel

Election 2020: Ann Ravel

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Dave Cortese

Election 2020: Dave Cortese

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Teresa O'Neill

Election 2020: Teresa O'Neill

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Kevin Park

Election 2020: Kevin Park

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Harbir Bhatia

Election 2020: Harbir Bhatia

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Rally in San Jose to support Prop. 16

Election 2020: Rally in San Jose to support Prop. 16

Activists gathered in downtown San Jose to support Prop. 16 on the Nov. 3 ballot, which would restore affirmative action in California.
Election 2020: Suds Jain

Election 2020: Suds Jain

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Santa Clara County officials pledge safe election

Election 2020: Santa Clara County officials pledge safe election

Election 2020: Anthony Becker

Election 2020: Anthony Becker

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Gary Barve

Election 2020: Gary Barve

Silicon Valley candidates were asked: "What's the most important lesson you learned in 2020 and how has it prepared you for this role?"
Election 2020: Strong turnout, short lines early Tuesday

Election 2020: Strong turnout, short lines early Tuesday

Election 2020: Voter lines growing at Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose

Election 2020: Voter lines growing at Mexican Heritage Plaza in East San Jose

Voting in Santa Clara County

Voting in Santa Clara County

Voters in Santa Clara County, as in the rest of California, will be sent a vote-by-mail ballot this fall. How will this work and what should voters expect?
San Jose Candidate Forum 2020

San Jose Candidate Forum 2020

Santa Clara Candidate Forum 2020

Santa Clara Candidate Forum 2020

San Jose City Council hopeful Huy Tran reacts to Super Tuesday results

San Jose City Council hopeful Huy Tran reacts to Super Tuesday results

San Jose Councilmember Dev Davis on continuing to serve

San Jose Councilmember Dev Davis on continuing to serve

Santa Clara County supervisor candidate Otto Lee reacts to his Super Tuesday lead

Santa Clara County supervisor candidate Otto Lee reacts to his Super Tuesday lead

San José Spotlight

San José Spotlight Meet the Team

San José Spotlight Meet the Team

San José Spotlight is the city’s first nonprofit news organization dedicated to independent political and business reporting. Our mission is to change the face of local journalism by building a community-supported newsroom that ignites civic engagement, educates citizens and strengthens our democracy.
San José Spotlight About Us

San José Spotlight About Us

San José Spotlight is the city's first nonprofit news organization dedicated to independent political and business reporting. Our mission is to change the face of local journalism by building a community-supported newsroom that ignites civic engagement, educates citizens and strengthens our democracy.

Produced by Voler Strategic Advisors.
San José Spotlight Thank You

San José Spotlight Thank You

San José Spotlight co-founder and editor Ramona Giwargis thanks donors and readers for supporting nonprofit journalism in San Jose.

Produced by Voler Strategic Advisors.
San José Spotlight One-Year Anniversary Celebration

San José Spotlight One-Year Anniversary Celebration

San José Spotlight Stories Covered

San José Spotlight Stories Covered

Take a peek at the types of stories covered by San José Spotlight, the city's first nonprofit news organization dedicated to independent political and business reporting.
San José Spotlight Community Forums

San José Spotlight Community Forums

Since our launch in Jan. 2019, San José Spotlight has hosted 12 educational forums, panel discussions and community events to educate readers and ignite civic engagement.
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