By Breeana Greenberg
In celebrating its 25th anniversary, Aegis Living Dana Point took a moment to recognize its staff and community members with a fiesta in late September featuring piñatas, a mariachi band and a taco vendor grilling in the courtyard.
Companywide, all 35 communities held separate parties to celebrate the 25-year anniversary. Aegis Living President Sandra Preyale, the chief operating officer, and a couple of vice presidents visited the Dana Point location to recognize the senior staff members who have worked at the assisted living community.
“We took some time to appreciate what it is we get to do,” General Manager Eric Medor said. “We recognized all of our staff members that have been here over five years, which is an incredible number; over half of our staff have been here over five years.”
At the fiesta, staff members competed in Aegis trivia and a raffle for a chance to win gift cards.
“We love our residents,” Medor said. “We’re treating them like they’re our own mothers, fathers and grandparents. We love it, but it can be a challenging job emotionally sometimes, because we’re dealing with a very vulnerable population that we’re able to make an impact on.”
“To be able to celebrate and take that time to say, ‘Hey, let’s take a load off, we have this great bond amongst us, let’s just have fun,’ and then to see that support from the home office, too, is incredible,” Medor continued.
Care Manager Grace Zuniga has worked at Aegis Dana Point for 22 years. The special anniversary celebration was very special to Zuniga, she said.
“I went back in the years, seeing how many people I had helped, reminding me about all of those years,” Zuniga said. “All of these years that I’ve been here have pushed me to be better in life. Coming here, it’s like coming to my other house; it feels like home.”
The patients have acted like teachers, Zuniga said, reflecting on one patient who was a retired banker and taught her all that she needed to know to buy her first house.
“They became my teachers,” Zuniga said. “A lot of times, I sit with them, and they tell me about their life, and it changes how you see life.”
Adding to Zuniga’s sentiment, Medor noted that his experiences with patients sticks with him outside of work.
“One of the things that I love about working at Aegis is that it puts life into perspective, and it really highlights what’s truly important in life, and that’s your family, your friends, the relationships you have with people,” Medor said. “You bring that home with you.”
Breeana Greenberg is the city reporter for the Dana Point Times. She graduated from Chapman University with a bachelor of arts degree in English. Before joining Picket Fence Media, she worked as a freelance reporter with the Laguna Beach Independent. Breeana can be reached by email at email@example.com