Nancy Cuba with a resident of St. Mary’s Health Care Center in Worcester, MA
Nancy Cuba with a resident of St. Mary’s Health Care Center in Worcester, MA

Sharing a language is a commonality often taken for granted. When we share our words with others, we make a human connection. In the United States, native Spanish speakers might have fewer opportunities to share their language. At St. Mary’s Health Care Center in Worcester, MA, Nancy Cuba is making sure they are heard loud and clear.

“Nancy is the glue holding the Memory Care unit together,” said Director of Mission and Pastoral Care Colin McNabb. “But she’s also respected for proactively taking on the role of connecting with and ministering to Spanish-speaking residents.”

There are 10 residents at St. Mary’s who primarily speak Spanish. They come from the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala and Puerto Rico. Fortunately for them, Cuba was born in Puerto Rico before moving to New England as a child. This background helped inspire Cuba, an activities assistant on the Memory Care Unit, to add individual visits with each of these residents once or twice a week. 

“Often, residents see me, open their arms and hug me. They look forward to our Spanish conversations,” said Cuba. “They also like to ask questions about their care because they want to feel comfortable and secure. If I need to explain something to a staff member, or a resident, I’m very happy to help.”

Not only is Cuba a cultural ambassador for the residents she serves but also for her coworkers. Her community might have to order a few Rosetta Stone subscriptions in the near future. 

“It’s been amazing. I spend time with all different kinds of people from different cultures,” said Cuba. “My English-speaking colleagues want to learn Spanish so they can visit with residents no matter what language they are most comfortable speaking.”