For Mariane Veillette, perseverance was simply a way of life from a very early age. She and her family lived in a one-bedroom bamboo hut in the Philippines, where they slept on the floor. Living in a region known for unpredictable and often severe weather, that bamboo hut was destroyed over and over again in heavy rain. But the family persevered to rebuild their home each and every time.
Veillette also learned responsibility at an early age, helping to provide for her family by becoming a nanny as a young girl. To do that, she had to move to China, living in a barracks environment with other young nannies, and enduring extremely strict rules and conditions. From there, she moved to Dubai to work as a nanny, this time living with only bare necessities and facing discrimination toward women.
But the harsh conditions in Dubai also afforded her the opportunity to come to America when the family she worked for made the journey – a move that would give her the opportunity she needed to take charge and build her own future.
After meeting and marrying her husband, Veillette eventually landed in Georgia, discovering the Pilgrim’s facility in Ellijay three years ago and recognizing the potential for growth that she could experience there. She started out as a harvester and worked hard to move up the ladder to Quality Assurance Technician.
Her experience as a nanny came into play and proved invaluable in the plant environment. It gave her the personality and insight she needed to work with and manage all kinds of people.
“You have to smile because you’re taking care of people,” she said. “You don’t want to seem unhappy, because they adopt those feelings, too.”
Her strength was tested once again when she learned that her daughter Sophia, now age 3, has Down syndrome. But true to form, Veillette accepted her fate, embraced it, and could not be more grateful for her daughter and the people and experiences that Sophia has brought into her life. Veillette now works tirelessly for Down syndrome advocacy, offering support to other children and families of Down syndrome.
And through it all, Veillette also continues to financially support her parents and teenage son – all of whom still live in the Philippines – waiting for the day when they can join her in the U.S.
Until that day comes, Veillette cares about the people she works with every day as if they were her family.
“What I feel at Pilgrim’s is they are like family to me … it’s my second home,” she said. “I love this job. I love these people.”