Fifteen years ago, I spoke very little English, my husband had abandoned me and my 2-year-old son, and I was being evicted from my apartment. For several months, we were even living out of my car.
Having recently moved to the U.S. from Chile, all I had was my son and the job I’d recently started at a Walmart Supercenter in Boynton Beach, Florida. And that job ended up providing the support system I needed to rebuild my life. When Eunice, an associate in deli, heard I was being evicted, she opened her home to my son, Sebastian, and me. She took us in and would never accept a dime for it. When I had to work, Eunice and other associates arranged their personal schedules to help take care of Sebastian.
There were many nights I cried myself to sleep because I didn't know how things were going to turn out. But, the love and support I received from my coworkers at Walmart lit a fire under me. I committed to learning everything I could – moving from deli, to seafood, to fresh, to the meat department. My store manager even agreed to give me a chance to try working in receiving. Any part of the business I wanted to learn, my team at Walmart accommodated.
At the end of 2004, I applied for the company’s assistant manager program and was accepted. That was the miracle that turned my life around. I’ll never forget buying a new car and, a few years later, my own home. So many times, I just stood there smiling. As I did so, I thought about Eunice and the other Walmart associates who stepped forward when I was in desperate need. I could not have done it without them.
I’ve since served in a variety of managerial roles at Walmart stores in Florida. My career has helped me provide the kind of life I always wanted for Sebastian. But it also led me to meet a wonderful man, get married and grow my family from two to five.
Earlier this year, I helped open the new Walmart Neighborhood Market in Palm Beach, which I now manage, and it has been an absolute blessing. More than 60% of the customers in my store speak Spanish, so there’s a natural connection between us. I’m able to lead and create opportunities for the associates around me, just as Walmart did for me.
Editor’s Note: For more of Pamela’s story, here’s a recent article published in the Sun-Sentinel’s Spanish newspaper, El Sentinel.