Nidia Campos of PestCal Exterminators places the work gear of her brother, Sergio Ayala, in a display case at the company’s office in North Hollywood.
Ayala died of COVID-19 in January.
Every morning, Sergio Ayala combed his daughters’ hair into twin braids, dropped them off at school and headed to work. He loved his job as a field supervisor at his brother-in-law’s pest control company. But he wanted to own a business and was studying to become a barber. He hoped to start a college savings fund for his three girls and toddler son.
In January, that dream was cut short. His family believes he contracted the coronavirus while practicing his barbering skills in people’s homes.
Ayala died from COVID-19 at age 37. His partner, Lizeth Sanchez, worries she won’t be able to fill his shoes. “I think, oh, God, what if I can’t afford to give them the education their dad wanted for them?” Sanchez said. “What if I can only afford education for one of them? It scares me.”
Kevin and Nidia Campos, owners of Pestcal Exterminators, hold the boots of Sergio Ayala, brother of Nidia Campos and a longtime employee of the North Hollywood company. Ayala died of COVID-19 on Jan. 3. In California, younger Latinos are dying of COVID-19 at much higher rates than their white and Asian counterparts.
Michelle Rojas-Soto is Social Justice Director at the Eagle Rock Neighborhood Council and Managing Director at Encompass, a racial equity nonprofit. Her children attend LAUSD and Glendale USD schools.