Kelley Cote, Director, Lassen County Department of Child Support Services
I am the firstborn of 5 (yes 5 girls). They are Stacy, Jennifer, Dena and Kristin. I was born in Chester, CA, where my dad was a Deputy Sheriff and my mom stayed home. When I was 5 we moved to Susanville because my dad could make more money working at California Correction Center (CCC).
It’s funny when I think back about my childhood—my sisters and I had a great childhood. My dad was an amazing dad. My sisters and I wouldn’t be the strong-willed, successful women that we are today without him. He taught us that all we have is each other; no one in the world will make your life the way you want it, but you must work hard no matter what you do. He’s been gone now for ten years and it feels like it was just yesterday. My mom is great—I can hear her now—you must love people…all of them.
I come from a huge Mexican family and some of my best memories are when we all would get together. One of the best memories that I have is during one of these get-togethers. I remember my grandpa sitting in a chair in a circle with my great uncles, and each of them had their guitars. They would be playing and singing, and each of them would have one of those huge gallon wine jugs by their feet (Ernest and Julio Gallo) … I know! My mom and aunts would be singing with them. To this day, the song Cielito Lindo makes me laugh and cry at the same time.
I am married to a wonderful man named Jim. He owns a local business in Susanville. We have been together for almost twenty years. I have one son—my baby, his name is Scott (I call him Scotty) and he is 27 years old. He works in construction and drives me crazy. Being a mom to an adult child is so weird sometimes. Sometimes I think, how did I get here? Anyway, I have two fur babies. Jebbie, our dog and Gus, the cat. They are spoiled rotten. How rotten you might ask? I crockpot their dinners.
If I could do any profession in the world, I would be a chef. Part of that memory that I shared was missing a part—the food. My grandma was the one who cooked at these functions. Since I was the oldest, I got to stand on a stool and help make tortillas. As I started cooking, the feelings from that memory have been what I always try to recreate for my guests. A little family secret—I am the only one out of my aunts, sisters, and cousins who learned our family recipes and still cook them. My dream is to have my own restaurant on the beach in the Baja. You never know… it could happen.
How I got into Child Support
I started in 1998 as a Legal Secretary for the District Attorney. I worked four hours a day for the D.A. and the other four hours for child support. I only took the job because it made more money than the last job that I had. I had a new baby and needed health insurance. So, I said why not. Well… I have been with the county for almost twenty years now and I have only worked for child support. I have worked through the ranks of every position and I have been the Director for a little over two years. I love this program. There is so much to do and my focus is, how do I leave this wonderful program better than when I first began. That’s the journey, right…