Hispanic Heritage Month: A Passion to Serve the Community

Lillibeth Ramirez with group of volunteers

September 24, 2019 - Diversity & Inclusion

Lilibeth Ramirez still recalls the cultural shock and difficulty of learning a new language  when she moved from her native Puerto Rico to the mainland United States at a young age.

Today, Lilibeth, a TD Bank Human Resources Team Manager in New Jersey, cites that experience as a reason she now is an active volunteer in the Latino community.

“I always tell people that we had our struggles. We had our challenges,” Lilibeth said.  “If I can make it, you can make it, too.”

Priority to give back and help build people up

“Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate who we are, highlighting our accomplishments and rich history, she said.

Lilibeth joined TD Bank four years ago, drawn to  the company’s unique culture and  commitment to diversity. She serves as co-leader of the bank’s Latinos in Leadership Business Resource Group, which provides mentoring and growth opportunities for Hispanic employees.  It's a natural fit for Lilibeth, who earned a business administration degree from La Salle University in Philadelphia.

“It is so important that we serve our community,” she says. “No matter how I progress in my own career, I will always make it a priority to give back and help build up the people around me.”

Lilibeth RamirezLilibeth Ramirez


Before joining TD, Lilibeth worked for APM, or Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in the Philadelphia region. She continues to volunteer for the organization during their annual Sugar Cane Festival, helping new citizens register to vote and providing resources to help clients find jobs, housing and other aid.

She is also engaged with multiple organizations supporting youth mentoring and the advancement of Latino professionals, such as the Association of Latino Professionals for America and the Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

“We have to do something to make something happen. I strive to be a change agent,” she says. “My goal is to see a community that is self-reliant, empowered and connected.”

Puerto Rican culture places high value on family

Connectivity comes easily for the Latino community, which places great value on family, Lilibeth said. It's on full display when Lilibeth returns to Puerto Rico, where she still has aunts, uncles and cousins.

While visiting, she savors some of her favorite dishes, such as piragua, a shaved ice dessert; bacalaitos, or codfish fritters;  sorullitos, and corn fritters.

Puerto Rican culture shines during the holidays, Lilibeth says. She celebrates Christmas with her family by Parrandas Navideñas, the territory’s version of caroling and drinking coquito, or Puerto Rican eggnog,

Christmas dinner is typically roast pork, arroz con gandules, or rice with pigeon peas, pasteles, and arroz con dulce, a traditional Puerto Rican dessert made with rice, coconut milk and spices.

Los Tres Reyes Magos, or Three Kings Day, follows in January when on the eve of the holiday  children put shoeboxes of hay under their beds for the kings’ camels to eat, in exchange for presents. This is a traditional holiday in Puerto Rico that Lilibeth remembers from her childhood.

“It is an amazing culture with amazing people," Lilibeth said. "They are so warm, loving and genuinely supportive of each other. Family is everything.”

Resilience and staying together is important

Resilience is also a characteristic of the Latino community, as she pointed to Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island in September 2017, and the recent political turmoil that led to the resignation of Puerto Rico’s governor.

“We are survivors. No matter what happens, we stay together,” Lilibeth said.

“Being a Latina living in a diverse country as the U.S. gives me a sense of pride, passion and a place where I can share my cultural values with others," she said. "It really pushes me to work harder, stay authentic, be the best version of myself and make my family proud. I am my own trademark.”


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