By Kathy Chouteau
Chevron Richmond’s Somos Employee Network honored Hispanic Heritage with a series of compelling events this year, including a lunchtime Classic Car Show that celebrated the spirit of “La Familia.”
The Somos Employee Network is a group of Latin American and Hispanic employees at Chevron who work together to support each other’s career development and to organize community engagement projects. It is one of 12 employee-run networks at Chevron, across all of its locations worldwide, to both promote and to benefit from diversity and inclusivity in its workforce.
This year, the Somos group developed the theme “Embracing the Strength of our Diversity, Uniting through our Culture.” Activities included holding an information booth at the Washington Elementary School PTA “Kermes” celebration in Point Richmond, and hosting a panel of five Chevron Hispanic leaders involved in the company’s Capital Projects process.
Among other school-based activities, Somos also partnered with Richmond High School to participate in the District College Career Fair, where it shared different career paths within Chevron, including programs like the Regional Occupational Program (ROP) and the Richmond Promise. Representatives also discussed the annual Somos scholarship program which honors students from Richmond that have demonstrated scholastic achievement, community involvement and leadership skills.
The classic car show was a highlight of Somos’ efforts. Employees and their family members came together in appreciation of Hispanic and Latin American culture during the event including tacos, music, info booths, contests, stunning classic cars and Chevron’s best and brightest flexing their deep-set knowledge of the topic at hand.
Khristine Pizarro, Process Engineering Team Lead–D&R at Chevron Richmond, helped organize the event and said the effort was about community.
“This is about creating a sense of belonging and coming together around a shared experience in a way that is inclusive to everyone,” Pizarro said.
She said Chevron Richmond has a strong Hispanic and Latin American community and they wanted people to feel connected to their culture and roots via the day’s event.
Chevron’s Rigo Abrego, reliability operating assistant, echoed Pizarro’s sentiments, noting that the company was cultivating the “La Familia” aspect among the Classic Car Show participants—who were all employees—as well as attendees. He highlighted the event combined their hobby—stemming from generational heritage—with what we do here at the refinery.
Charles Escalante, Battalion Chief for the Chevron Richmond Fire Department and a Somos Employee Network Leadership Team member, showcased his 1968 red Ford Mustang. It was his idea to have the event. Escalante grew up in San Francisco’s Mission District and built his first Mustang at age 16. He recalled fond memories of that time.
“There used to be a lot of low riders and classic cars cruising the area and I loved the feeling of families out having food, music playing in the background—mariachi—and events happening,” he said. “I decided I wanted to do something the same and bring it to Chevron.”
Escalante said employees brought 26 classic cars to the event that day, Camaros, Mustangs and many other eye-pleasing incarnations. Later, three winners of a competition for best overall classic cars were announced and award recipients included: First place: Miguel Garibay for his 1964 Chevy Impala; Second place: Ryan Chambers for his 1972 Chevy Chevelle; and third place: Matthew Woodward for his 1949 Chevy 3600 pickup truck. Escalante said that the cars were judged based on a checklist with specific criteria.
Aside from the classic cars, the event also included booths for Chevron Richmond’s Lubricants and Engine labs, which highlighted the work these two groups do and how it relates to cars. The Chevron Federal Credit Union was also on hand, as was a Toyota vehicle fueled by 50 percent renewable gas.
Food for the event was a taco dish with beans and rice prepared by Mi Jalisco Taquizas, which drew an enthusiastic lunchtime swell. Mariachi San Francisco provided lively music, and also helped out with the “Best Mexican Grito”—or Mexican cry—contest. Four contestants gave it their all over the microphone to roaring applause, with each being invited by organizers to cut in front of the taco line.