CHA Employees Highlight the Importance of Hispanic Heritage Month


“Supporting local vendors and businesses, advocating for language justice in all spaces, and donating to housing rights organizations are just a few of the ways that we can use our power to contribute to the longevity of all marginalized people.”

Alexandra Zuluaga, Operations Department

Gisell De la Cruz | Planning and Development

This month, I celebrate my roots and the opportunity to embrace it. It reminds me of the importance to pass on the values and heritage I inherited to my son. Being aware of our culture will help us be the best version of ourselves. 

Rashida Golden Jolly | Legal

Hispanic/Latinx Heritage month is both an opportunity to learn more about my heritage and to teach the world about how diverse we are as an ethnicity. I’m proud to share a connection with a culture that embraces joy, community, and solidarity.

Manoucheca Lord | Resident Services

It is important to celebrate the independence of so many Hispanic countries after being colonized for so long because Freedom is a human right. Hispanic Heritage Month means that we honor our ancestors who fought for their freedom. Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month means we take the time to respect and appreciate the influence it has on everyone’s individual culture. The Hispanic culture helped to shape our culture and identity. No one culture should be more celebrated than the other. We are all equally responsible to learn, take part and support the Hispanic culture. I think that doing so would enable us as a society to better coexist with one another.

Allyah Landestoy | Planning and Development

Hispanic Heritage Month honors the perseverance of the Hispanic community, equipping us with the stage to showcase and appreciate our cultures, our accomplishments, and our existence. Learning of the strength possessed by those before me and the paths they paved for my independence and validation encourages me to continue taking up space, where as a Hispanic woman, I once was excluded from. This month is a time to indulge in all my community has to offer, from rich foods to rich histories, and I encourage everyone to celebrate!

Alexandra Zuluaga | Operations

As a first generation Colombian-American, Latinx Heritage Month for me is an opportunity to celebrate and uplift the contributions of our community. But it doesn’t stop there – celebrating Latinx people and all BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, and People of Color] is a commitment we should make all year. Supporting local vendors and businesses, advocating for language justice in all spaces, and donating to housing rights organizations are just a few of the ways that we can use our power to contribute to the longevity of all marginalized people.
This Latinx heritage month, I am appreciative of all immigrants that not only left behind everything they knew but contribute daily to this country in immeasurable ways. 

Julie Lelio | Leased Housing

Hispanic heritage month is important to me because by recognizing the contributions and influences of Hispanic-Americans to the history, culture, and achievements of the United States, we celebrate the melting pot that is our country. We all need to be celebrated and recognized for the progression of this country for what it is and why we need to make it better for the generations to come. Happy Hispanic Heritage month to my Hispanic brothers and sisters. 

Luis Vasquez | Executive

I am proud of my roots and the progress we have made to integrate our culture and to unite with others from the neighborhood level to the global scale. Growing up, simply seeing someone who looked like me doing special things, propped doors open that I didn’t know could ever open, helping to turn dreams into realistic paths, because nothing is impossible. Representation is everything to me and I am thankful to those who have paved the way for us to continue pushing for a better, loving, more inclusive tomorrow.

Dayanara Negron | Operations

Hispanic Heritage is in my identity and is apart of who I am. That heritage brings me closer to my roots and makes me proud of being Afro-Latina and partaking and adding to the beautiful rainbow of the Latinx community!

Sonia Rivera | Human Resources

Hispanic Heritage includes such a wide variety of different people, that at my age I am still learning! I was born in Ohio to wonderful parents who had made their way from the island of Puerto Rico to make a new home, and I, along with my other 4 brothers and sisters, were ever so blessed. We always spoke Spanish in the house, but my parents encouraged us to speak English to them so they could learn also. We learned about where we came from and that we were an ethnic, cultural race, not a color race. We are a rich blend of the indigenous Taino people, African slaves and the Spaniards from Europe. And the food? If you have never eaten it, you MUST try it! A lot of people think it’s automatically spicy (hot), but although we do use a lot of spices, our food is not necessarily hot. Rice, beans, chicken, pork, root vegetables and salted cod are a few of our everyday dishes. 

I learned that Hispanics/Latinos also make the same foods Puerto Ricans make but call them different names. We call cake, “Bizcocho” for example, where other Latinos call it “Pastel” or “Torta”. Beans are Habichuelas, other Latinos call them “Frijoles” or “Judias”. Bananas are “Guineos”, others call them “Banana” or “Campur” – who knew? And what a great way to bring in the holidays than to celebrate with a glass of Coquito; a rich blend of rum, milks and spices! Ask around, some of the best made is from original homemade recipes. Hispanic Heritage month is not only for us to show the world who we are as Latinos, but also to show other Latinos who we are as Puerto Ricans too. 

Paula Martin | Planning and Development

We are a very old culture, in which we work and communicate a lot as a group. Setting the table for lunch and dinner and sharing our day is very important to us. We have shared our culture with all South America from Mexico all the way down to Argentina and Chile. I am very proud of my roots, and we are a culture that works very hard, but also have a 20 minute siesta during the day that makes us be in a good mood and not be tired while working.

We understand that everyone’s situation is different. This is why our laws are flexible and the point is to help people with our bureaucracy. Our history is incredible, from the Celts, to Greeks, Roman and Moors, which makes our country and culture very diverse and rich, including food, architecture, socially, and more.