Vivian, along with her siblings and parents, came to New York City as a child. For her family, NYC offered the opportunities of better schools. Her native country, the Dominican Republic (DR), is located in the Caribbean sharing the Antilles Island with the sovereign nation of Haiti. The DR has the third-largest gold mine in the world and its economy is tied to the mining industry, as well as tourism, construction, and manufacturing.
As a child, Vivian fondly recalls, “we used to go to the beach every single Sunday as a family. My mother would prepare a meal (usually spaghetti and meatballs) and we would all eat it at the beach – playing volleyball and just enjoying quality family time.”
She goes on to say, “this was almost a ritual for us, our own time to reconnect. We continue this during the summer months in New York (now as adults).”
One of her favorite foods is sancocho, known in many countries but in the DR it’s made with meats and roots, resembling a beef stew. Vivian says it’s delicious and often it’s made for large group gatherings.
She also describes the highlight of the Christmas season as the 24th when so many families in her culture gather and enjoy food, music, and presents. Together they go visit neighbors playing instruments called parrada. As they go to more homes, the group gets larger and larger as each family visited often joins the celebration. Arroz con leche is often served and enjoyed during this celebration and Vivian describes it as a really fun time.
Vivian Turner is the Outpatient Therapy and Rehabilitation Clinic Front Office Supervisor and she has been with FHW since September 2018.
Nina was born in Venezuela, located in South America. Her mother’s family is from Italy and her father’s family is from Spain. Following WWII, both families separately immigrated to South America in search of a new home. Ultimately her parents met in school. Nina’s grandfather never lost his Italian accent and would speak Italian as much as possible, even to his grandkids. The grandkids would then reply in Spanish.
“That’s just how we communicated,” Nina says.
Spanish in South America is truly a blend of languages – Spanish and native languages. Nina moved to Vancouver, Canada as a young adult and that’s where she learned English. Eventually, she moved to Miami and in 2017, she moved to Mesa County. Her husband is from the Fruita area and when they were ready to start a family, they opted to put roots down near family.
Growing up, Nina says her family celebrated with a mix of cultures but New Year’s was always a giant celebration and party followed by eating lentils for prosperity on New Year’s Day. She describes having a little baby Jesus figurine that gets set out in December. The figurine is covered.
“Then on the morning of December 25, we uncover baby Jesus. A symbolic way of being born,” she said.
Nina and her family enjoy arepas, a deep-friend South American food. Nina describes it as a corn-based dough filled with meat, similar to sopapilla or stuffed fry bread (which are flour-based).
Nina Byers is an Administrative Assistant, working with FHW leadership and she has been with our organization since February 2019.