Happy Hispanic Heritage Month!
When the calendar flips to Hispanic Heritage Month, it evokes a potpourri of memories, feelings, and reflections for many, including me. And this year, I wanted to share a slice of my journey and how it intertwines with a mission close to my heart (quite literally!) – promoting heart health awareness, especially among Hispanic women.
Let’s take a walk down the cobblestone streets of Oxnard, CA, the place I fondly call my childhood home. Moving to Oxnard was akin to diving into a rich tapestry of cultures, an experience that forever shaped my world perspective. A seamless blend of Mexican, Filipino, African American, and white American cultures, among others, added colors, flavors, and rhythms to my life.
The Mexican culture, in particular, held a special place in my heart. How could it not? With the tantalizing aroma of tacos from our local taqueria, the captivating beats of mariachi bands at friends’ quinceañeras, and the heartfelt “pláticas” (chats) that stretched late into the night, it was an education beyond textbooks. The warmth and inclusivity of the phrase “Mi casa es tu casa” (My home is your home) was something I lived rather than just heard.
It wasn’t just the festivities and food that left an indelible mark. It was the stories whispered across dinner tables, tales of brave journeys, dreams nurtured with hard work, and an unwavering commitment to family and community. My father, with his unique mentorship approach, became an integral part of many young lives in our community. The relationships he built were deep, reminiscent of the strong bonds of “la familia” that are a cornerstone of Mexican culture.
Now, weaving these personal experiences into my professional life as the CEO of WomenHeart, I’m confronted with an alarming reality. Heart disease is a silent predator, and it looms large, especially over Hispanic women. While my upbringing in Oxnard was filled with cultural treasures, it also offered insights into the unique challenges faced by the Hispanic community. Socioeconomic factors, lifestyle choices, and sometimes a lack of awareness combine to put many Hispanic women at a heightened risk.
At WomenHeart, our mission transcends boundaries and cultures. However, this month, our focus sharpens on our Hispanic sisters. The echoes of “paso a paso” (step by step) remind us that the journey to heart health is a continuous one, taken one step at a time. And with “todo el corazón” (with all the heart), we’re committed to ensuring every woman has the knowledge and tools to protect her heart.
This commitment isn’t just about disseminating information. It’s about genuine conversations, understanding unique cultural nuances, and fostering a community that supports each other. Our recent Live Q&A with WomenHeart Champion, Lynette Bloise, is a testament to our dedication. Such initiatives open doors to discussions, addressing concerns specific to Hispanic women and heart health.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, I find myself filled with gratitude. Gratitude for the experiences that shaped me, the cultures that enriched me, and the mission that drives me. My cherished “Tias and Tios” (aunts and uncles), with their wisdom and love, have instilled values that I carry with me every day. Their teachings serve as a compass, guiding our collective mission at WomenHeart. As we move forward, phrases like “Juntos, hacemos la diferencia” (Together, we make a difference) become our mantra.
While this month is a tribute to the vibrant Hispanic culture, it’s also a reminder. A reminder of the challenges we face, the battles many fight, and the victories we can achieve together. Heart health is a universal concern, and with unity, awareness, and action, we can make strides toward a healthier future for all.
Con cariño y gratitud (With affection and gratitude),