Esperanza, the Spanish word for hope, permeates through the lives and cultures of millions of Hispanic Americans. During Hispanic Heritage Month, observed from September 15 to October 15, we celebrate the histories, cultures and contributions of Hispanic Americans through the generations.
LEAD, which stands for Latino Employee Alliance for Diversity, is PPL’s employee-led business resource group whose mission it is to connect, grow and inspire Latinos at work and in the community. During these four weeks, LEAD has celebrated Hispanic culture by bringing stories of inspiration and hope to life through its members.
“Esperanza is so much more than a word,” said Melinda Maldonado Stumpf, manager of Regulatory Programs and president of LEAD. “It’s a feeling of optimism and positivity. Today, and all year, we celebrate hope and spread it throughout the company and our community during Hispanic Heritage month.”
In addition to a volunteer event at the Hispanic Center in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where the company is headquartered, LEAD hosted a signature event with PPL Director Natica von Althann, who shared her story of resilience, hope and success. She reflected on her experience as a Cuban immigrant and the importance of finding strength through your cultural roots.
LEAD members graciously offered stories of their own cultures, highlighting favorite foods and finding common ground in their love of music and family. For many, it is the paths that their parents walked before them where they find the most inspiration and hope for the future.
Jonathan Quezada, financial analyst whose family is from Ecuador, looks to his father as his role model.
“He is the strongest, wisest person I’ve ever known, and his strength is inspiring,” said Quezada. “I am always inspired knowing that he had the courage to leave his home country at the age of 17 to travel to a land where he knew no one nor spoke the language, all in the name of seeking a better future for he and his future family.”
Lissette Santana, senior manager – community relations, became rooted to her culture by spending summers with her Abuelita in the Dominican Republican and credits her mother for her determined spirit.
“My mom immigrated to this country as a young 20-something newlywed,” said Santana. “She didn’t know the language, had to leave all her friends and family behind, and had to start over when her nursing certificate wasn’t valid in the U.S. She went back to school, while raising three kids, and eventually got a job in her chosen field and built a successful life here. She doesn’t let anything stop her.”
Colombia native Diana Yunez, manager – Billing Operations, is also inspired by her mother’s story of resilience.
“She came to the US not knowing the language, leaving her family and friends behind,” said Yunez. “She was looking for a better opportunity for us as a family. She left Medellin, Colombia in her early twenties. My mother worked in a factory for many years, trying to raise a family of three as a single mother with a physical disability. She always told us to treat others with respect, work hard and to love ourselves. My mother encouraged us to get an education in order to fulfill our goals and dreams. She also forced us to speak Spanish at home and never forget where we came from. Knowing both languages would benefit us in the future. Today, I thank my mother for the love, support and constant encouragement that helped me become who I am today.
For more information on Hispanic Heritage Month, visit: https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/