Employee of the Month came to the U.S. for love but fell in love with HCDE instead

When you mention the name Gregorio Rosales at the North Post Oak office, you are bound to hear a chorus of compliments about him. The custodian who has been with HCDE for nearly 23 years is more than a familiar name—he’s the heartbeat of the building and the February Employee of the Month.

“He doesn’t wait for me to tell him what to do. He’s already telling me what he’s going to do,” Assistant Director of Facilities Javier Lara said. “I have exceptional workers, but Gregorio is one of my guys that goes above and beyond. He’s friendly, respectful, professional, and good at his job.”

There’s more to what meets the eye when you encounter Rosales, a recently sworn-in U.S. citizen and cancer survivor. It’s his desire to make others happy that endears him to colleagues.

“He’s a joy,” said Research Coordinator Natalia Assis. “He knows about my family. He always asks about my mom whenever I go to Brazil. I actually wait for him to come by. When somebody else shows up, I’m like, ‘What happened? Where is Gregorio? Is he ok?’”

Rosales says that working at HCDE is special because of the people who make up the organization.

“I like working at HCDE because of the environment,” Rosales said. “They are very nice. When you need a favor, they do it. They help you. I spend almost half of my time here, and I like spending time with my colleagues. It’s as if I was in my house, only they don’t make me wash dishes here!”

Gregorio Rosales poses for a photograph, January 27, 2022.

Between jokes, Rosales says he considers HCDE a family who gave him a second shot at life.

“I was diagnosed with stage four cancer,” Rosales said. “They had to operate on my kidney the following week. To do the surgery, I had to make a copay that was very high for me on such short notice. I felt the doors closing in on me. My boss at the time surprised me and decided to collect funds from several colleagues. She went to the hospital herself to make the payment. I felt that my soul had returned to my body. Thank God I had that operation. Without that surgery, I would not have survived more than three months. That’s why I consider HCDE my family.”

Originally from Monterrey, Mexico, and a longtime U.S. resident, Rosales recently became an American citizen.

“I was nervous about learning the questions in English and Spanish,” he said. “It was something I wanted to do for many years, but because of nerves or shame—I don’t speak English well—I put it off. But this year, I worked up the courage. I had the interview, and I passed.”

Gregorio Rosales poses for a photograph, January 27, 2022.

Unlike many immigrants seeking a better life, Rosales says the motivation behind his move was for reasons of the heart. 

“The truth is, I came [to this country] because I was in love,” he said. “I followed a girlfriend. Later, I grew to like the American way of life. I fell in love with this country, so I’ve stayed since I was 18 years old. My girlfriend broke up with me, but I was already here.”

Rosales says he is most proud of the opportunities this country has given him, like the faith his supervisors have put in him.

“For me, it is a pleasure to be able to put a drop in the bucket for all the people who visit HCDE properties,” Rosales said. “I am very happy with my job and with the trust that my bosses have in me. I hope never to let them down.”

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