#Merilove: Merivis couples we’re lovin’ on this Valentine’s Day

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This Valentine’s Day we celebrate some of our veteran couples in love who are part of the Merivis Family.  We’ve now had several couples come through our training, some together and some at separate times and since we enjoy learning about their stories we thought you might too!  Join us in spreading a little #Merilove!  We’d love to hear your stories too! Tweet at us (@MerivisVets) or email at  info{at}merivis.org.


Kate Perez & Hector Perez, Jr.

Call them the OG Merivis couple. After 4 years of friendship, running into each other at Dell, and frequenting the same community events they “caught up over drinks” which looking back turned into their first date. Years later they both were heavily involved in the Austin community – Hector with Big Brothers Big Sisters and Kate with various arts organizations around town. One life changing day on the road from Dallas to Austin a conversation came up about how Salesforce and Salesforce Military was partnering with nonprofits and there wasn’t anyone supporting Texas veterans in that way. Hector looked at Kate and said “I want to do this” with an expression that indicated it was happening one way or another. Kate jumped in and with a fantastic board of directors, Merivis was created. Since then the organization has grown up, and Kate and Hector have moved from Austin to Dallas, then to Seattle, bringing Merivis with them and setting up Seattle as a second host city. When they’re not working (Kate at Merivis and Hector as CRM lead at AWS) they’re usually traveling, new countries or getting out to the great outdoors and national parks, hosting friends for dinner or taking in the Seattle nightlife. Hector is a marathoner and Kate cheers him on from the sidelines. They make a great team, both share a passion for helping others grow and reach their potential, and are grateful for the success of Merivis and all the amazing graduates that have become family since 2016.


Jennifer Cala & Anthony Cala

Jennifer and Anthony are attending our current Admin cohorts in Austin, TX and working toward obtaining their admin certifications.  They met in San Francisco when Anthony was 20, and Jennifer was 18. Anthony joined the active-duty Army a few months later, and they lived together in Hawaii for 10 years. They have been married 17 years and have 2 boys, Elijah 17, and Antonio 13. Also, other additions to the family include two small yorkies named Frisco and Nico. Plus, Judie the poodle, Anthony’s service dog.

 Anthony served 10 years in the Army and 6 years in the National Guard. Anthony and Jennifer, volunteer in their free time with the Building Homes for Heroes after receiving a

mortgage-free home. They also love to travel together and watch movies as a family. Anthony volunteers to spread the word on how to treat people with service dogs and help Veterans and Military Spouses find employment. They both found Merivis through the 2019 Dreamforce Opening Keynote and Anthony convinced Jennifer to sign up, and together they have been helping each other study and learn Salesforce. Teamwork makes the dream work.


Nyria Velasquez & Manuel Gallardo

Manny and Nyria met at a job where she was bartending and he stopped in with some friends.  According to Manny, near the end of the night, a waitress came over and gave him a note from the bartender (Nyria).  According to Nyria, she says she never did that while she worked there. Either way, they ended up hanging out and exchanging numbers and met later for coffee at the local IHOP and talked until the wee hours of the morning.  Manny says his favorite qualities about his wife are that she is strong in her conviction, super dedicated to whatever cause she is working on and primarily running. Nyria, didn’t experience life with Manny while he was in the Navy but, he says there are qualities that come out when they are dealing with scenarios and difficulties in life such as their son being diagnosed with Leukemia.  Manny says he couldn’t be happier than having her next to him to walk through life’s journey. Some people have stepped up while others have stepped off but, he is the happiest with her!


Leticia Pardo-Islas & Seiji Islas

Leticia and Seija

Leticia and Seiji met through mutual friends in high school and dated for a short while.  They tell of going on dates to UT Campus and picking up shakes or enjoying a movie together until Leticia helped Seiji join the USMC in September of 1996.  She had been researching branches herself to help pay for college and she later joined in April of 1998. By that time they were no longer dating, not even on speaking terms, but later they talked and realized they were just a few miles away from each other in California and reunited.  

Leticia says her favorite quality about Seiji is that he is knowledgeable in many things so he does his best to keep her mind flowing with lots of information.  Seiji says his favorite quality about Leticia is her faith she maintains that no matter what happens things will work out the way that they should. In Seiji’s eyes, Leticia is strong and capable of handling anything that comes their way.

Leticia and Seiji have helped each other through their service years, in transitioning out and in working through the aftermath of the impact war can have on a person and a family.  They overcame and stuck together through the years growing their family and enjoy having married over the years in 2020.


Natasha Perez & Clayton Mitchem

Natasha and Clayton met through social media many years after he had left military service.   He was on Facebook for just a few months at the time when she messaged him with a friend request.  Clayton, wanting to keep his network to only “real” friends responded to Nathasha asking “Do I know you?” Natasha replied “No, but we share mutual friends,” and not wanting to waste the opportunity he said something corny like “It isn’t every day a beautiful woman friend requests me so I will add you.”  They met in person for the first time after 4 months and became engaged just 6 short months later.

Clayton says Natasha doesn’t think she is funny, but she can always make him laugh.  They share a similar sense of humor and world views and are still finding commonalities, often saying things like “me too” and “simpatico” because they are so compatible.  Clayton says that he finds that with some qualities he feels that he lacks, she “has enough for the both of them and therefore completes him.”

Natasha says Clayton’s best quality is his patience.  He came into the relationship knowing she had a son and she has always admired his patience with both of them.  She says, he always seems to find the positive light when a situation has her trending towards negative thoughts.   

Clayton and Natasha enjoy spontaneous moments, unplanned road trips, cooking together with “crazy ingredients” and enjoying the tiny moments like sharing a good scare, a snack or just holding hands.


Kathllen Dorta & Patrick Istefanidis

Kathllen and Patrick are one of our newest couples, they are attending our current admin cohort together and supporting each other through the program seeking Salesforce Admin Certification.  They met five years ago while Kathllen was here in the United States studying English and he was preparing for a new career in the United States Air Force. After dating for about a year, they decided to get married in 2015 and they have been building a life together ever since.  They have supported each other through the ups and downs of military life, through each achievement, struggle, citizenship, education and now transitioning toward their new life together outside of the military. Kathllen and Patrick found Merivis while exploring options for new opportunities and exciting career paths in San Antonio.  We look forward to seeing where their journey takes them from here.


Marie-Eve Germain-Tardieu & Yann Germain-Tardieu

Marie-Eve and Yann met August 2010 at a restaurant with a dance floor, for Yann it was love at first sight and they ended up dancing that entire night but didn’t exchange numbers (we were both shy). Yann realized his mistake right after Marie left and ended up running to his car and following her for a few blocks before she stopped. She ended up giving three different numbers (a sign that she liked him just as much as he did). They ended up unsure of the relationship since Yann was soon deployed to Afghanistan, but were able to maintain the relationship for that year, so they knew it was forever by the time Yann returned from his deployment.  Marie’s favorite quality about Yann is that he would do anything to make her happy. Yann’s favorite quality about Marie is her pastry skills. Believe it or not, Yann used to be pretty fat growing up and is still a fat boy at heart:) 

 The Army was definitely hard on their relationship, especially the first year when Yann was gone, and again when Yann was moved from Fort Drum, NY to Fort Hood, TX. Marie ended up getting a working visa and moving to Texas three months after Yann’s move.  They later got married, Marie also joined the Army and that brought a whole new level of stress as a dual-military couple (Yann has to involve his Brigade commander when Marie received her first orders to Korea in order to get them changed to Fort Hood for example). They made it through and ended up leaving the service 8 months apart, so by the time Marie’s contract ended, Yann had already found a position at Dell Technologies thanks to the Merivis Foundation.  

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