In 1974, Ernie Gonzalez started his career at Villa Manor Care Center in Lakewood, Colorado.
When he first stepped over the building’s threshold, Gonzalez couldn’t imagine the 45 years of memories he would make at the facility and the thousands of lives he would touch, from residents to associates.
Villa Manor threw a party in Gonzalez’ honor on May 23, 2019, with about 120 people in attendance, including residents, associates and his family members. Associates presented him with a cake, and Kevin O’Neal, maintenance director, played the piano.
Cathy Murray, chief operating officer for parent company Life Care Centers of America, as well as Derek Schmidt, vice president of Life Care’s Mountain States Division, each attended. Beecher Hunter, Life Care president, sent a special video highlighting what made Gonzalez a special employee and thanking him for his many years of dedicated service.
“He is the best housekeeping supervisor I have seen in 25 years,” said Sara Dent, executive director. “Everyone loves him. He takes pride in everything he does and really puts the needs of others in front of his own.”
Associates signed a picture frame for Gonzalez.
“The party was beautiful,” he said.
When Gonzalez was asked what has kept him at Villa Manor so long, he shared, “The people I work with. Everybody has been so nice to me. I’ve never had a problem with anybody. I’m very happy every morning that I go in to work.”
Gonzalez has made it a habit to stop and talk to every person he meets. He has gone out of his way to set up drinks, coffee and water before meetings. He has helped grill hamburgers and hot dogs for fundraisers and donated some of his vacation days to an associate in need. He has served as a good leader for his department, leading his team to achieve no deficiencies on many state surveys. Once, he even got a tag for making the floors too shiny. He earned a President’s Award from Life Care in 1992.
“Your co-workers talk of your kindness, integrity, honesty, love, compassion and genuineness – all qualities that are imperative in health care,” said Hunter. “You may never know how much difference you make in someone’s life. Thank you, Ernie, for 45 incredible years of service. May God bless you and all your loved ones in the years ahead.”
Gonzalez plans to work for several more years before retiring.