Monday, November 26, 2018

All in the Family at Wesley Palms

Employees enjoy working with family members

Francisco Murillo remembers the day in 1977 when he applied for a housekeeping position at Wesley Palms. The then 24-year-old got a ride from his dad to the retirement community high atop Mt. Soledad in Pacific Beach.

“That was the first time my dad told me the story of how he helped build Wesley Palms in the late 1950s and early 1960s,” Francisco said. “He was a pipefitter back then and was hired to use his expertise for Wesley Palms.”

Housekeeper Francisco Murillo has worked at Wesley Palms for more than 40 years. .
Wesley Palms opened in 1962 when Francisco was about nine years old. “Obviously I knew my dad went to work every day but I didn’t know exactly where,” Francisco said. “When he told me the story I was very surprised. I thought … I have a chance to work at a place my dad help built. How about that! Thinking back, I wish I could have visited my dad here when he was building this place.”

Francisco’s sister has photos of their dad at work at Wesley Palms. The iconic façade of main building is pretty much the same on the outside but of course, the new patio homes have replaced the original cottages. “That’s a huge change from the original cottages that my dad built. Back then, Wesley Palms was probably considered a new concept with its large open spaces and cottages. Now, the new patio homes at Wesley Palms are unique.” Francisco is now Wesley’s longest standing employee at more than 40 years.

Francisco isn’t the only employee with family ties at Wesley. Husband and wife, Laura and Juan Vargas have been working together for more than 13 years. Laura is the housekeeping supervisor and Juan is in the maintenance department. Laura began at the community first and then Juan joined her two years later.

“We both started in housekeeping but then after a few years Juan encouraged me to apply for the director’s position,” Laura said. “If I got the job, he knew he would have to transfer to another department since family members can’t supervise each other. He was sad at first that we would not be working closely together anymore but he soon found new energy on the maintenance team. He’s one of that department’s top employees now.”

Husband and wife Juan and Laura Vargas love working together at Wesley Palms.
“We take our first break together every day and then we don’t see each other until we get home,” Juan said. “Sometimes we like to swap stories around the dinner table about how our day has gone or we tell a funny story a resident told us.”

And then there is Muhannad Sofi and his 17-year-old daughter Delan Sofi-Haji. Muhannad has been dining room manager for 21 years and last year Delan joined the team as a receptionist. “I told Delan that Wesley is great place to work and left it up to her if she wanted to apply for a job here,” Muhannad said. 

“I kind of grew up here,” Delan said. ”My dad would tell me stories about how nice the residents are and how much fun he has doing his job so I decided to apply. Now I have my own stories to tell about our incredible residents.”

Wesley Palms’ staff are not the only ones who have family connections. Many residents are second generation. Longtime resident Bob Crabb’s mother lived at Wesley Palms in the 1970s as did resident Holly Steere’s parents and Becky Graber has the privilege of currently living at Wesley Palms with her mother.

“I’m not surprised we have both second generation residents and staff here,” said Executive Director Ben Geske. “Word gets out that Wesley is a great place to work and live. We’re a family here.”


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