Catalina Berry, Director of Community Health and Outreach at Ascension DePaul Services

One would think being the only Hispanic family in a rural town in central Virginia would make it hard to identify with my Mexican roots. However, I was fortunate enough to be raised speaking both Spanish and English, and my parents always made sure I spent my summers in Mexico to be with my family and experience the beautiful Mexican culture. We would drive from central Virginia to central Mexico because there was no way we could afford to fly. In fact, recently, when I heard people sharing the stories of financial hardships, I reflected on my upbringing. Even though we were on food stamps, my sister and I were on CHIP, and we struggled financially, my parents never let it get in the way of finding a way for my sister and I to have a wonderful childhood. I am forever grateful for my parents and everything they did. They taught me to work hard and no matter what the circumstances are, you find a way to make it work.

That same upbringing gave me the desire to always give back and always find a way to give back. I remember when I was too young to donate blood at 12 years of age, so I chose to bake brownies and sit at the table to serve those that could. I wanted to donate something so I made my first hair donation at 10 years old and since then I have donated over 60 inches of hair. This desire to give back continued throughout the different careers I have had. From working for a nonprofit Latino youth leadership program to Community Affairs and cause marketing in radio- there had to be an element of serving my community. After working in radio for 7 years I knew I needed something more fulfilling which is when I completely shifted gears and went to work for Ascension Seton in Austin. The first day in orientation we read the mission and those words affirmed that I had made the right decision. When the opportunity to transition to Ascension DePaul Services opened, not only was I looking forward to work under an inspirational, strong woman like Veronica; I also knew that I could further live out the mission in this role. The mission is why I am here- to commit myself to serve all persons regardless of background. Since starting in January with Ascension DePaul Services, I have seen and heard so many stories of the different trials people have experienced and this humbles me. I have also seen and heard so many wonderful people that donate their time, treasures and talents and this gives me hope. The more we can serve everyone around us, the more we can help others find a way to make it work and the more we can create more wonderful childhoods for generations to come.

We look forward to sharing the personal stories of our Ascension DePaul Services team members as we begin to revitalize our blog and website!