Brio Living Services Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month
Every year, from September 15 to October 15, the United States celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month (also referred to as Latinx Heritage Month). While most month-long celebrations don’t cross over into another calendar month, Hispanic Heritage Month’s dates were chosen with care. September 15 is a significant date in many Latin American cultures, as it is independence day for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Mexico’s independence day is the following day, September 16, and Chile’s independence day is September 18. Near the close of the celebration is Indigenous People’s Day, which this year takes place on October 9.
Marina Calvachi, Brio Living Services Marketing and Digital Assistant, says she enjoys Hispanic Heritage Month because it gives her the chance to learn about other Hispanic and Latinx cultures, as well as her own Ecuadorian culture. “I started celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month a lot more when I was the social media chair for the Latinx student association at Wayne State,” Marina says. “It was really great to learn about so many different Latinx cultures, because we have so many different countries in Latin America. It’s just a great opportunity to learn about other nationalities. “For example, last year I got to learn more about my Puerto Rican and Mexican friends, because we all have very different cultures. Even though we’re all Latinx, we’re all very different from one another. It’s always an opportunity for me to learn more about other people, not just my own culture.”
Marina encourages others to seize the opportunity to learn about cultures that are different from their own. “I just encourage people to learn more about countries that aren’t necessarily neighboring the United States. I know a lot of us just know about Mexican culture, and Mexico is very big so there’s a large population. My family comes from a teeny tiny little country, but we have such big personalities. We have so much to share with others, whether that is just how we treat each other with southern hospitality, or our great food, or our parties that we throw, welcoming people. I just encourage people to learn more even about the smaller countries that they might overlook.”
Marina enjoys celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by reading books by Latinx authors, as a way to learn about and celebrate her culture. Marina was born in the United States, but some of her favorite memories are from visiting her extended family in Ecuador. “It’s just so peaceful to be able to connect back with my roots,” she says. “Some of my most favorite memories are of traveling there, experiencing the culture, and meeting some of my family members who I had never met before.”
“The thing I value the most about my culture is that we’re so family oriented,” says Marina. “That also encompasses our grandparents, how we honor them, how we have them stay with us, and how much we pay attention to them. That’s something that’s always stuck with me. That’s also part of the reason why I work at Brio Living Services, because I had such a great relationship with my grandmother, my abuelita, and it will forever impact me with how close knit we always are.”
Berenice Folkert, Property Manager for three of Brio’s affordable living communities, says that Hispanic Heritage Month is especially meaningful to her. “As a Hispanic, Latina woman, it’s significant to me because it’s an acknowledgement by the United States of the contributions we’ve made here.” She explains that her family came from Mexico to the US as migrant workers and then settled in the States for good. Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the things “my people, my heritage, my ancestors have been able to give to the United States,” Berenice says.
To celebrate Mexican Independence Day at the start of Hispanic Heritage Month, Berenice says she made fresh tostadas and called her parents to reminisce about the celebrations in Mexico. In fact, Berenice says that, although she was born in the US, her favorite memories of celebrating her culture are from the years she spent as a child in Mexico. She remembers “going to la plaza downtown, looking up as a child, and seeing all the decorations in independence colors of white, red, and green. And, of course, the mariachis, the music, singing the national anthem. Even if I didn’t know it, I was trying. That was the best every year! I will never forget it, it was just beautiful.”
Berenice says, “As a Hispanic individual, I like the fact that there’s an acknowledgement [of Hispanic Heritage Month] within Brio and even within the affordable living communities, because I have individuals in my communities who are Latinas, Hispanics. There are a couple of people from Chile at Bailey’s Grove, some from Cuba in Walker Meadow, some from Paraguay, and of course I am of Mexican descent. So it’s just wonderful because I can speak Spanish to them.” She adds, “The fact that Brio allows us to speak Spanish together is so important. Other employers don’t permit that. Just to be able to acknowledge and celebrate it and have people talk about it, I like that. Thank you to Brio for that.”