Meet some of Boston Children’s AAPI heroes

Celebrating some of the people who make a vital contribution to patient care at Boston Children’s. (Image: Adobe Stock; Illustration, David Chrisom, Boston Children’s)

People come to Boston Children’s Hospital to receive care from some of the best clinicians in the world. Yet, the safe and nurturing environment that welcomes patients and families is the work of a great team.

The Environmental Services team, for example, works tirelessly to ensure that every area of ​​the hospital remains clean and welcoming. The Food Services team provides food to patients, families and staff with a wide range of dietary needs.

These dedicated teams include many Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. Here we celebrate some of the people who make essential contributions to patient care.

Wilfredo (Willy) Hernandez, Food Services

Willie Hernandez in a white chef jacket smiling outdoors with flowers in the background.
A chef at Boston Children’s Waltham, Willy grew up with good food and people who loved to make it.

Please describe your work at Boston Children’s.

I help lead eight kitchen staff at the Waltham facility – I’ve had the honor of leading this team over the years. Our day begins with the preparation of breakfast for the main cafeteria, as well as the preparation of individualized trays for inpatients, ensuring that the dietary needs of each child are met. Then we start cooking the soups, cold cuts and main dishes for our lunch service.

Whether a patient has a food allergy, special diet, or other dietary need, I take great care when preparing meals to ensure that everyone who eats here can enjoy a delicious meal that is safe for them.

Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and how it influences the person you are today?

I was born in Manila, the capital of the Philippines. I grew up around good food with people who love to make it. Cooking with many generations of family members has always brought joy to our home. I graduated from college in the Philippines with a Bachelor of Arts in Food Technology.

I would say Filipino cuisine is a mix of Spanish and Asian styles. We love spices and seasoned fresh foods, and that influences some of the dishes I create today.

What part of your culture are you most proud of?

I am very proud of my Filipino heritage. We are a resilient, hardworking and caring community of people who genuinely care about each other. I always send money home to support my family and often they use that money to help younger family members go to college and find a better way of life.

Dinh Nguyen, Environmental Services

Boston Children's Dihn Ngyuen stands smiling during a family trip The White House in the background.
Dinh’s upbringing makes him energetic and hardworking. He channels much of that energy to help keep patients safe.

Please describe your work at Boston Children’s.

The work I do helps protect our patients from bacteria and other germs. My duties include tending to the lobby of Boston Children’s main campus: cleaning pathways, dusting vents, cleaning stainless steel surfaces, sweeping and mopping the floor, and most importantly, disinfecting. I also work in outpatient and inpatient clinical areas.

Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and how it influences the person you are today?

I am Vietnamese. I would say it makes me energetic, sentimental and hardworking.

What part of your culture are you most proud of?

I am very proud of our football team. The players remind me how seriously Vietnam takes teamwork and how hard people work to get where they need to be.

Jing Wiita, Food Service

Jing Witta in one of the purple stands at the Boston Children's Food Court.
Jing enjoys connecting with Guilt-Free Grill customers and knowing that she provides them with healthy meals.

Please describe your work at Boston Children’s.

I cook and serve our patients, families, visitors and employees at the Guilt-Free Grill on the main campus of the Boston Children’s Food Court. I want everyone who comes to my station – patients, families, employees – to enjoy the healthy meals we prepare and serve. At Guilt-Free Grill, our very popular chicken tenders are air fried, and vegetables are cooked and prepared with oils instead of butter to keep them allergen free.

I enjoy building relationships with our customers. It makes me happy to serve them and know that I am preparing a meal that they will sit down and enjoy!

Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and how it influences the person you are today?

I am from Shenyang, China. Shenyang is the capital and largest city of China’s Liaoning Province. I came to the United States in 2002 with my daughter, who was 17 at the time. After we arrived, I wanted to stay. I enjoyed the freedom and wanted my daughter to experience it more. I also wanted to travel and learn more about the United States. We both became US citizens in 2009. My daughter was able to finish high school and go to college and now works in a bank.

What part of your culture and background are you most proud of?

I really appreciate the art, dance and music of my culture. When I was growing up, my father made furniture in a factory and later became an inspector in the same factory. My mother took care of the children in the factory’s nursery and cooked for our family. No one else was allowed in the kitchen. I started cooking after my marriage and learned how much I loved seeing people be happy when they ate and enjoyed their food.

Wilson Wong, Environmental Services

Wilson Wong of the Boston Children's Environmental Services team stands smiling against a white wall.
Growing up in a multicultural community made it easy for Wilson to get along with others and to be self-confident.

Please describe your work at Boston Children’s.

I work the night shift in environmental services at Boston Children’s in Waltham. Whatever I do – clean, disinfect or buff and wax floors – I do it with patients and their families in mind. When I leave at the start of the morning shift, I know I have made these areas ready and safe for patients and staff to use throughout the day. My job provides a clean, germ-free environment, just like Boston Children’s should be.

Can you tell us a bit about your upbringing and how it influences the person you are today?

I was born in Canada and grew up in a multicultural community in Montreal, Quebec. Growing up in Montreal, hockey was an everyday culture and religion for me. I had friends from various backgrounds, including French, Italian, Greek, Jewish and Polish.

What part of your culture are you most proud of?

I am proud to have grown up in a multicultural community. We all got along well. I guess that’s what makes it so easy for me to work with others and understand the differences. Although I haven’t followed many traditional Chinese customs, I’m proud that my past has enabled me to cope and adapt to a new environment and have confidence in myself.

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