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Douglas Spegal, Program Director at Fresh Start in Philadelphia shares his thoughts about National Hispanic Heritage Month and what this recognition means to him. Thank you, Douglas for your personal reflection and beautiful story about your wife’s family.

“When reading this communication (sent to employees on 9/15), I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride for my wife Claudia. Claudia’s parents are both from the country of Chile. With her mother soon to follow, her father came to this country in the late 1960’s, amongst political strife in South America as well as in the country of Chile. One year later, Claudia was born. Claudia’s father went to college in California and worked his way up from being an immigrant, new to this country, and knowing virtually nobody; to becoming an American citizen and a successful engineer for an international company for almost 40 years. While now in his 70s and retired, he still acts as an international consultant and is well respected in his community. Claudia’s mother was equally as amazing as she raised 2 children in a new country where she spoke NO ENGLISH.

Claudia grew up first in California, and later New Jersey, and went to Stockton University where she met her future husband…me. Although we would not get together for almost 20 years after we met, we have now been married for 6 years and together for 10. Claudia is a successful executive director for a major casino company that operates all over the country. I couldn’t be more proud of her accomplishments which have not been easy for her, as a Hispanic woman in a predominantly male-leadership ran industry. She has opened my eyes to many things about the Chilean culture and has taught me many more things about how to be happy and live a meaningful life. Many of these attributes and ways of thinking have spilled over to the everyday decisions and relationships that are part of my Merakey career. Thank you, Claudia and Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month!”