Optimist Case Study

GALLERY: Portraits of Everyday Heroes

From Texas Monthly to the New York Times, H-E-B and their employees have been praised for their preparedness and steady presence during the coronavirus pandemic. And we’re curious: who are these everyday heroes, these employees on the frontlines serving others head-on with optimism? From the H-E-B in Wimberley, we are highlighting four essential workers that are making a positive impact within their community.
Katherine | H-E-B Top Store Leader

Katherine had been with H-E-B for fifteen years when COVID-19 hit. Both Katherine and her husband, who is also a Top Store Leader at H-E-B, felt a shared anxiety of having to work in a public environment since they have two young children. While holding a leadership position, Katherine focuses on maintaining a calm demeanor in order to keep her team cool and collected.

“As a leader, you can choose how you’re going to lead through a crisis like this. And at that moment in time, before I went back to work on Monday, I decided that I was going to lead through this crisis and I was going to choose gratitude, joy, and connection. We’re all in this together. We truly are.”

“Our plates are pretty full, but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’m so incredibly proud to work for H-E-B. I truly do think that we, as a company with all the things that we’ve put into place, we’ve really slowed the spread of COVID-19 through Texas. I’m just blessed to be here.”

 
Estelle | Baker Lead

Estelle has worked for H-E-B for three and a half years. She’s always had dreams of working in a bakery and currently holds the Baker Lead position. She’s also immunocompromised, which makes working in a public-facing position during a global pandemic unsettling. Recently, Estelle got engaged to her now-fiancé Miles, who also works at the Wimberley H-E-B. She says it is Miles who helps her stay optimistic.

“I’m autoimmune suppressant. Because of the unknowns at the time the pandemic hit, it was a huge concern for me personally to come to work and to be around people.  It was also really weird to come into my job and see our bakery be shut down and not doing my normal day duties, like making scratch breads, or doing a cake order for a customer. In reality, (I was) turning customers away because our bakery is closed. It was really hard to do that. I just never could wrap my head around what was going on.” 

“I stay optimistic through my family, through Miles, and God. I’m a big believer in my faith, and I know I will get through every day because of Him. He’s blessed me with Miles. Every day I wake up and I’m just like, ‘I can conquer today because I have Miles.’ If I’m going through a panic attack, Miles is right there to calm me. I know it’s going to be okay.”

 

Homer | Service Lead

Hailing from Rio Hondo, Texas, Homer has been with H-E-B for two and a half years and now works as a Service Lead. A first-generation college student at Texas State University, Homer is guided by his motivation to make his family, his team, and his community proud while balancing school and work.

“It is really a challenge working during the pandemic. We’re all faced with a huge responsibility now. We have a larger role than we even realize, and it’s tough to manage. But we, as a team, collectively have pulled through and made an effective effort to make a difference and impact.” 

“It is demanding being full-time at work and full-time with school. I get really emotionally exhausted, but at the same time, I’m positive. I have to go through school and work, and I know that I have people to make proud. It is a struggle not seeing my family, but they know I’m safe. I’ve assured them that I feel safe and feel safe here at work.”

“In Wimberley, we have a small population of Spanish speakers. I see that they always look for me or come to my line whenever I’m at a register. And that really makes me happy that I can make them feel included and comfortable here at H-E-B. I feel like that is also my responsibility to be able to help them.” 

“I love inspiring people and bringing a positive attitude in here to everybody.”

 

Belinda | Overnight Deli, Prepares the H-E-B Meal Simple

Belinda has been with H-E-B for three years and is no stranger to tough times. Life has thrown her many curveballs, such as a cancer diagnosis seven years ago and facing the Wimberley floods in 2015. After beating cancer, Belinda was eager to get back to work at H-E-B to focus on helping her community, something she cares deeply for.

“I was here in the very first few days, whenever the panic really started with the general public. I came in one night, and it looked like somebody had wiped the store shelves clean. I was told that people were coming from out of town to get toilet paper, groceries, and stuff like that.”

“I thought, ‘What can I do to help the people of this community feel safer in coming into the grocery store?’ When I clock in, I think, ‘What is the first thing I need to do?’ I’ll start wiping down shelves and every surface that I can think of that people touch whenever they’re here. Just making sure everything is cleaned.”

It’s a lot to deal with for one person, but with the things that I’ve overcome in my life, I know that I can do this. I just take a deep breath and go, ‘Okay, this is what we need to do.’ It makes me feel happy and really good that I can get out there and do something to help provide a safe place for people to come shop whenever they need.”

Photos by Marshall Tidrick. 

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