JRMC Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
By Caitlin Davis
Oct 5, 2012, 12:19
photo by Caitin Davis Guest speaker, Rosa Hopkins, owner of Right at Home, holds up a picture of her mother and grandmother, whom she calls her inspiration. Hopkins spoke during the hospital’s “Hispanic Heritage Month” celebration.
The aroma of authentic Mexican food filled the downstairs of John Randolph Medical Center on Friday, Sept. 28, as community guests and hospital employees gathered to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, which stretches from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15.
Dia Nichols, CEO of JRMC, said he was proud the hospital celebrated such events.
“I just want to say how proud I am that our hospital puts on events like this to really show our support for culture and diversity,” Nichols said. “And the differences we all have that bring us together.”
Michelle Cortes, with Right at Home in Hopewell, read a poem, first in English, then in Spanish to illustrate the journey of many people of Hispanic heritage to the United States.
Rosa Hopkins, Operations Manager and owner of Right at Home, which offers in home care and assistance, was the guest speaker for the event. Hopkins, who held back tears as she began, identified with the poem, which described leaving one homeland for another, said she left Puerto Rico 20 years ago to come to the United States.
Hopkins, who said she was not raised in the “big city” in Puerto Rico, said she had developed a strong ethic from the lessons of her father, who taught her to work hard for everything she wanted.
Hopkins said one of the things she is still working hard at is learning the English language.
“Through all the years of working, I remember I never left my home without a medical Spanish/English Dictionary in my pocket,” Hopkins said.
Hopkins went through many obstacles and bumps in the road to opening her own business, which now has two offices in Hopewell and Williamsburg. Each time she was knocked down, she picked herself up and kept pushing forward.
“If you work hard and prepare yourself, you can make it really big in life,” Hopkins said.
Since the afternoon was a celebration of the Hispanic culture, Hopkins said she wanted to make sure those there knew that cultural heritage should not make a difference in goals or opportunities.
“It doesn’t matter where you’re from,” Hopkins said. “We all have to realize we are all different and respect each other for who we are.”
Hopkins then held up a picture of her mother and grandmother. With tears in her eyes, she said those women were her inspiration in life, driving her to start her company.
“When we were taking care of my grandmother, there was no such a resource,” Hopkins said. “We also took care of my husband’s grandparents and there were so many things we didn’t know. My mission is to let people know what’s available to them.”
Hopkins said she wanted audience members, those of who immigrated from other countries and those born and raised in the United States, to remember their own culture.
“We need to ask questions about our ancestors,” Hopkins said. “We need to ask questions and learn from them. Remember who you are and where you came from.”
Guests dined on Latin American cuisine as Hopkins reflecting on her time in America and how her adopted home has changed since she arrived in 1992.
“Right when I came here, people were saying, ‘A Puerto Rican is not going to tell me what to do,’” Hopkins said. “Because I spoke differently, they didn’t think I was smart enough.”
Hopkins said the culture is more welcoming now and organizations are starting to discuss diversity. She said events like the celebration at JRMC were an important part of celebrating other cultures.
“It’s wonderful,” Hopkins said. “I think this is good, this is special...every hospital should do that.”
Nichols said the celebration on Friday showed what makes JRMC a special place to be and work.
“I think when you really look around the community we serve the demographic is constantly changing,” Nichols said. “It mirrors our employee base. We have such a diverse array of employees that bring a diverse way of thinking and a diverse way of approaching day to day issues.”
Patria Mercedes, a pharmacy technician at JRMC, said the celebration was “very unique and very beautiful.”
Mercedes came to the U.S. from the Dominican Republic when she was 16-years-old. She said she has seen an improvement of the acceptance of her culture and said she is pleased that the hospital takes time to recognize that differences of its employees.
“It is important for me,” Mercedes said. “It is a way of acknowledging Spanish people and it makes me very proud. That they acknowledge we are from a different country and keep us in mind.”
Captain Gregory Taylor, with the Hopewell Police Department, said the celebration was a wonderful way to bring the community together to celebrate culture and diversity. He also said the speech from Hopkins was “very inspiring.”
“The more knowledge we have about different cultures and beliefs gives us a better view and different aspect on how to get along,” Taylor said.