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Village Shalom Names Employee, Rookie Of 2014


Village Shalom recently honored two staff members for outstanding service to the continuing-care retirement community with the presentation of the 2014 Employee and Rookie of the Year awards. The winners were announced at Village Shalom’s year-end employee holiday celebration.

Celebrating the presentation of Village Shalom’s 2014 employee recognition awards are (from left) Tim McFarland, Director of Facilities; Charles Aguilar, Employee of the Year; Luis Rivera, Rookie of the Year; Karin McCrary, Chief Operating Officer; Matt Lewis, President and CEO.

Introducing the award presentation, President and CEO Matt Lewis said, “We are nearing the end of a very challenging year and I could not be more proud of all of you and for what you do on a daily basis for our residents and their families.” Joe Hiersteiner, Chairman of the Village Shalom Board of Directors, was also on hand to express his pride in being “part of such a wonderful organization and the care that is provided on a daily basis.”

Lewis explained that Village Shalom is able to recognize outstanding employees throughout the year because of the Charles M. Helzberg Employee Recognition Fund, which was established when Village Shalom opened its doors in 2000. “Charles Helzberg is a strong believer in recognizing and rewarding staff for the important work they do at Village Shalom,” noted Lewis, adding that the fund “makes it possible for us to provide a meaningful monetary reward to our Employee and Rookie of the Year.”

He also thanked Helzberg on behalf of Village Shalom’s employees for the newly redesigned Staff Lounge. Because of Helzberg’s “strong believe in all of you, he decided to match the funds that were raised to renovate the Staff Lounge.”

Helzberg also addressed the group, praising Village Shalom’s employees for their dedication. “Village Shalom is what it is today because of all of you and all that you do,” he said.


Charles Aguilar, Facilities Technician, was named Em­ployee of the Year. Residents of the Villas nominated Aguilar for the award. Joining the Village Shalom just over 10 years ago to handle maintenance needs on the Village Shalom main campus, Aguilar was reassigned to the independent-living Villas area about five years ago. His manager recognized that his gift for customer service, great attitude and caring personality would be an ideal fit in meeting the needs of the Villas residents.

“Charles has such a positive outlook on life and an infectious smile,” said Karin McCrary, Chief Operating Officer, in making the presentation. “You can tell that he truly enjoys his work, his co-workers and our residents. He not only takes care of repairs that he is asked to do, but he goes the extra mile to make sure that everything is working properly. Charles puts his heart into everything he does. When his heart was shattered this past June [after the loss of his baby daughter, Stella], Charles continued to give his all to each one of us -- residents and staff alike. What an inspiration!”

Villa resident Mel Mallin, the unofficial “mayor of Village Shalom,” added that “Charles is so prompt and always wears a smile. Charles does a great job with everything all the time. Charles is always there when I need him and is always happy and capable of fixing everything. He is our Number 1 vote from the Villa residents!”

McCrary also noted that Aguilar is a talented musician who plays trumpet with a mariachi band that performs throughout the Kansas City area. He lends his trumpeting skills to Village Shalom’s annual Veterans Day programs.

“Charles, it’s an honor and a privilege to work with you,” added McCrary. “You make us proud every day. And I know there is a beautiful angel looking down on her daddy with great pride!”

As Employee of the Year, Aguilar received a certificate, a statuette and a check for $5,000.


Luis Rivera, Environmental Services Manager, was chosen Rookie of the Year. Luis joined Village Shalom in July 2014. His extensive experience in environmental services and his fluency in multiple languages have enabled him to assume the role of EVS Manager with skill and ease.

Tim McFarland, Director of Facilities, presented the award, reiterating the qualities that other team members have come to admire in Rivera’s few short months at Village Shalom:  “Luis has a good work ethic and great eye for details that need to be taken care of. He spends time with his staff members, making sure that they understand where the bar is to be set and how to do their tasks to get to that point. He responds quickly to work requests, and initiates projects without a work order being needed. He’s a great asset to the team!”

Rivera said he was surprised to receive the award, but acknowledged that he always has the attitude of going above and beyond in his work. “I feel like this is my house, and I have to take care of my house and everybody in it.”

He received a Rookie of the Year certificate, a statuette and a check for $1,000.