2018 Nominees Section
Position: Executive Director
Organization: Senior Center in Central Park
What role does your nominee have in senior care and senior care issues?
Why should this person be nominated
Randy has made an impact in the senior community more than anyone could imagine. As an Executive Director of the Huntington beach senior center he has helped countless of seniors in the area. As only few people know, he was in charge of securing funds and programs to build the brand-new state of the art Huntington Beach Senior center. This took more than a decade to come to fruition, but he did it. He spent countless hours using his free time, he made sure that they stay on track and stayed focus. The senior center would be built no matter what, when I asked him how is was going. He always said; "There is another obstacle, but nothing that can't be done. There money problems, but we will raise it". Over the years he has implemented hundreds of programs for seniors and the community at large. social service program, educational, meals on wheels, council on aging HB, transportation, health fairs, training, etc, etc.
As a graduate of the Human Services Program at CSUF, Randy Pesqueira knew that someday he would work with seniors. A child of the sixties, Randy’s mantra has always been, Power to the People, he grew up wanting to change things, to question the status quo. After college, Randy began to volunteer at the fledgling Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center of Orange County located in Garden Grove. The year was 1983 and the AIDS crisis was beginning to hit Orange County. In June of that year, Randy co-led the first Persons With AIDS support group in Orange County. “We had to meet in private homes for a few months, as we couldn’t find an office space that would let us meet,” stated Randy. Those initial meetings and watching friends die within 6 months, helped to form a commitment to their honor. It led to the formation of what would become the AIDS Services Foundation of Orange County. “I helped to write the first grant for AIDS education, and developed my first job.” Randy would spend the next 7 years working to move the AIDS dialogue to the forefront, leading groups of Persons with AIDS, family members and health care workers.
As a way to deal with the insurmountable grief and loss, Randy turned to storytelling and performance work in the early nineties, and started a job with the City of Huntington Beach as a cultural affairs assistant. The goal was to open up the Huntington Beach Art Center, which opened in 1995. 4 years later he was curator of the music festivals held at the City’s Pier Plaza. When an opening came up at the Rodgers Senior Center in Huntington Beach, Randy remembered back to the days of Human Services and knew it was time to work with seniors. “It was a different world back then, the Senior Center basically closed down after 2 pm, with maybe 75 seniors coming in during the day!” He recalls. It was at Rodgers where Randy met the almost 90 year old Inez Smith. Inez started working at the Center in the late seventies, when her husband passed away. She held the history of the Center in her head, and was in charge of the calendar of activities, which she would fill out with a No. 2 pencil. She was the last employee to use a typewriter, and worked into her early nineties. Randy had always revered older people as the “keepers of the flame, mentors, those you could learn lessons of a life from.” In 2002, Randy was named Director of Senior Services, uniting Rodgers Seniors Center with Senior Outreach, and creating a movement that would later assist in the development of the Senior Center in Central Park.
Describing himself as a servant/leader, Randy has always encouraged his staff to utilize the most of their creativity, to always think outside the box. In 2014 as plans for the Center began to solidify, he helped to raise almost 4 million dollars through a unique partnership with Hoag Hospital. This funding was integral to the building of the Senior Center in Central Park, and to ongoing support. Working with the Board of Directors of the Huntington Beach Council on Aging for almost 20 years, Randy spearheaded the Visionaries campaign and opening Gala for the Center. “I am blessed with the best staff on earth, who have led the way to creating one of the most dynamic senior centers in the nation.” Randy proudly states. After two years of building success, (the center has an average daily attendance of over 500) the Senior Center in Central Park continues to assist a new generation in Huntington Beach to age in community, from transportation to brain fitness, from baby boomers to centenarians, the center offers programs and services that make Huntington Beach a great place to age.
Randy’s mentor, Inez Smith, passed away in 2013, just one year shy of 100. “I kept her old typewriter around just to remind me of her wit and sharpness, and I always have a number 2 pencil handy, her spirit will always remain with me.”