Paterson NJ woman does manicures to raise money for polio treatment

PATERSON – Mariluz Paulino was a toddler taking her first steps when polio made her unable to walk.

Her family were too poor to afford a wheelchair, so when she was little she used her arms to drag herself across the floor of her home in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, her daughter said.

But her disability did not prevent her from studying.

“Her brother would carry her on his back to school,” said her 26-year-old daughter, Perla Guzman.

That was over five decades ago. In the meantime, Paulino learned to walk with leggings and crutches, became his college’s valedictorian with a computer engineering degree, got married, gave birth to three children, immigrated to the United States. United and eventually found herself unable to walk again after she fell on the ice outside her Paterson home and broke her knee and broke her femur.

Now Paulino needs a wheelchair to get around and does manicures and pedicures in one of the bedrooms in the 4th Quarter apartment she shares with her eldest daughter, Guzman. Paulino said she sees around 20 clients a week and set aside some of the money she earns to buy new braces and boots and to pay for the treatment she needs to walk again.

“My life has been very difficult, but not impossible,” said Paulino, taking a break to give his longtime client Florinda Pena de Passaic a pedicure. “I have my God in my heart. My God gives me a lot of strength.

The story continues under the gallery.

Paulino said her orthopedist told her it would cost around $ 20,000 to get everything she needed to resume walking. She has no health insurance and received treatment through charity care when she fell on ice in 2009.

But charity care won’t pay for what she needs to walk again, her daughter said. So far, Paulino said, she has set aside around $ 2,000.

“My goal is to save money for my braces,” she said. ” I want to walk. I need to lose pounds. I need some exercise. I need to feel better. Walking, walking is better for me.

Back in the Dominican Republic, Paulino started giving his friends manicures and pedicures as a hobby, she said. The skills came in handy when she went to college. She made her way to school doing people’s nails, her daughter said.

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Paulino had two IT jobs in the Dominican Republic when her husband decided the family would come to the United States in 2003. But Paulino’s visa status did not allow him to work in IT, said her daughter. So she resumed manicures and pedicures.

After Paulino suffered her fall in 2009, her husband struggled with his immigration status and was returned to the Dominican Republic in 2011, the girl said. The couple eventually divorced as Paulino struggled to cope with three children.

“We got our food from the pantries,” Guzman said.

But Paulino made sure his kids stayed focused on their studies. In the apartment where she now does people’s nails is a framed certificate identifying Paulino as Eastside High School Parent of the Year for 2012-13.

Mariluz Paulino, 57, of Paterson, who uses a wheelchair due to medical issues with polio, treats her client, Florida Pena from Passaic, with a pedicure in her Paterson apartment on 9/27/21.

Guzman now works as a lab assistant at a Morris County hospital, earning enough money to cover the bills for the house she shares with her mother. In addition to the money for nails, Guzman and Paulino also created a GoFundMe page:

Last summer, Guzman took his mother on vacation to Wildwood Crest. They were able to secure a special wheelchair that allowed Paulino to go to a swimming pool and a beach for the first time in his life, his daughter said.

Guzman proudly showed strangers video recordings of his mother splashing water with her hands with the joy of a child.

Paulino said she hopes to save enough money to be able to walk again and take a walk in a park.

“I’m happier when I have my braces on,” she said.

Joe Malinconico is editor of Paterson Press.

Email: [email protected]

About Antoine L. Cassell

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