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I Belong: Meet Ronnie

Meet Ronnie | District Leader

I am Mexican American and come from a large mixed Hispanic family. As a child, my grandmother, the family's matriarch, always made sure that we knew our roots and tried her best to ensure that we embraced our culture. I remember being taught values deeply rooted in the Hispanic culture: family, respect, hard work, and traditions.

Una Familia unida es todo! (A united Family is everything) No matter how close or distant, family ties were always tight. From birthdays to holidays or just hanging out on a Sunday afternoon, it was important for the family to be united and spend time together. We were taught to be there for each other through good and bad times and to treat each other with love, compassion, and respect, no matter what. When I was about 16 years old, I came out to my grandmother, and my biggest fear was how my family would react, as Hispanic culture can sometimes be very “machismo,” and my family was no exception. My fear wasn’t necessarily about coming about; it was about losing my family. I remember my grandmother’s response word for word, “Aye, Mijo, you know I love you no matter what, and no one will have a problem with you being gay, and if they do, pues yo Los pongo en su Lugar” (If they do I’ll put them in their place); jokingly followed by, “BTW yo simpre lo sabia" (I always knew). We soon told the entire family; fortunately, the response was the same. No matter what, Familia unida es todo!

Respeto (Respect) After family, the other value we learned is respect. I remember my grandmother always telling us, “No matter what siempre respecta a Los demas especialmente tus mayores” (always respect others, especially the elderly).

Simpre Trabaja con ganas y duro (Work Hard and Apply Effort) From a very young age, we were taught to work hard and apply maximum effort in everything we do. I remember spending most of my summers with my siblings and cousins, going to help my grandmother clean houses. This value applied to everything, even school, and we were taught that “el que Trabaja con ganas y Duro simple brillar mas and can achieve anything” (“Those that work hard and apply effort shine the brightest). Aside from family, this is one of the most important values that have stuck with me. Learning to work hard and applying effort from a very young age has helped me achieve much success in my life, both personally and professionally.

Honrar las Tradiciones (Honor Traditions) Lastly, it is extremely important to honor traditions, whether it be holidays, recipes, or family gatherings. Food recipes are one of the traditions I most hold dear. Aside from being delicious, it is about honoring my grandmother and ancestors. Hispanic culture is known for rich culinary traditions passed down through the generations, and my family is no exception. There is something very magical about spending time in the kitchen and preparing those recipes for my family and all enjoying the food while we bond over the nostalgia of it all. I always joke with my family about opening my own restaurant or food truck one day and naming it Mama Rosie’s! If you ever need a good recipe for some killer tamales, pozole, or enchiladas, feel free to reach out!

You probably noticed that as I “quote” my grandmother’s teachings, they are Spanglish. My grandmother frequently spoke in Spanish to preserve the language, something the entire family does to this day. Reflecting on being Hispanic and its importance to me ultimately boils down to Honoring: Family, Respect, Hard work, and Traditions.

For the last 15 years, I've been honored to work for PetSmart, a company that has evolved and has brought belonging to life through our values and how we respect, honor, and celebrate diversity. Being a gay, Mexican American man, I have never felt more at home than I do at PetSmart. Our Value of being #UnitedTogether, #PlayToWin, and #PassionForPets & People directly aligns with the Hispanic values and makes me believe that I truly belong here… #YoSoyPetSmart.

The Belonging Program’s “I Belong” Series harnesses the power of empathy through storytelling. This series is intended to give associates a greater sense of understanding, a bridge to gain new perspective, and a way to build connection to each other.


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