I (Anthony Crosby) believe that everyone is gifted in some unique way. There may be some who are skilled at the arts, and others may excel at public speaking. Heck, you may know somebody who bakes the best darn chocolate chips cookies you’ve ever had in your life! Whatever it may be, it’s this collection of talents that genuinely make a community so great. And a couple of traits that can bless a town, exceptionally, is the gift of kindness and authenticity. And I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that our guest today embodies these traits. This person has positively encouraged many people in our area with her sincere sense of love for other and life, which may be why she’s been one of AAT‘s most requested/suggested interviews up to this point! I hope you walk away from her words as uplifted as I did!
The person I’ve been building up so much is none other than Kerry Aguirre. Kerry is the executive director of The Terrace at Ruby View: Senior and Active Lifestyle Center. Kerry has been involved with and served our community for many years, but I’ll stop bragging about her now; I’ll let her speak for herself! “I moved to Nevada from Texas in 1976. My dad was an engineer at NASA during the Apollo 13 missions, and my parents actually met working for NASA. Growing up, I was expected to go to college and excel, but I thought that opportunity would always be there because just outside of Houston there were no less than fifteen-twenty colleges (at that time) to attend. So I did go to school for a year and…I was just not a good student; we’ll put it that way! So, rather than go and waste my parents’ money, I decided I would just take a year off. That really bothered them( Kerry’s parents), but they were cool about the fact that I didn’t want just want to take their money and go party the whole time at college. I worked for awhile as a chairside assistant for a dentist, but I decided what I really wanted to do was go travel. I decided on either Alaska or Las Vegas. My mom asked me to please not go to Alaska because it was just so far away and unknown. So, at twenty, I ended up working at a dentist in Las Vegas. I did not like living in Las Vegas; it was just too fast. I wanted to go back to my roots but was too stubborn to go home. But I did move to a very remote part of Nevada in a community of fewer than three hundred people. My life turned around in that little community. I was there for thirteen years and ended up working for a lithium mine. When my kids were heading into about the sixth grade, they would have had to take a bus to Tonopah NV, to go to school, which would have been an hour bus ride each way. I really didn’t want that for them, so I knew it was time to move on. Well, Elko at that time, 1986/87, was really booming because of the mining, so we moved here, and I was excited to be back in civilization again! There was a post office here!”
“The first thing I did when we got here was make a b-line towards the college. I wanted my education. So, over the next twenty years, I took my mere six credits and got my bachelor’s in business and then my master’s in business through the University of Nevada Reno, all from the Great Basin College campus; I never had to leave. Through the years of going to school, because I knew I wanted to stay home with the kids, I opened a bookkeeping and income tax service in my home. I was very successful with that. Year after year I started getting really busy; it grew exponentially. So, I ended up downtown in the Henderson bank building doing that. I was so busy I knew I needed part-time/seasonal staff to keep going; however, that type of staff is hard to come by in Elko because other jobs, like mine jobs, are so lucrative. I decided to see how else I could use my education, and I ended up going to Cashman equipment to work in their accounting department. It was around this time when I met Bob (Kerry’s Husband).” Due to some conflicts of interest at Cashman, Kerry made the choice to depart and shortly after, began working at United Way. “It was with United Way where my non-profit passion started. I like to make a difference with people. I love helping others discover what their passions are and how to make it work because if it works for them it works for me and it works for everybody! I was with United Way for about five or six years before going to work for the hospital as their marketing director; I worked for the hospital for a combination of about seven years. I loved my work there. However, through some changes in company leadership, I found that maybe I wasn’t the greatest fit for one of the CEO’s working there. So, I started doing some side work for PACE Coalition before a friend of mine from Alaska called me and told me I needed to apply for a job up there. I was sure Bob, as a third generation Elko guy, would never go for that; however, as soon as I said Alaska, he said let’s go! We lived up there for just under three year. I worked at the hospital just north of Anchorage. It was good for my marriage. It was good for my career; it’s always good to get out of your comfort zone. But I really missed my family and Bob really missed his. We started praying about it and after we did, the HR director for the hospital here in Elko asked if I would come back. It was a God thing; it’s always been a God thing with my career. After working back at the hospital for awhile, the position here ( The Senior and Active Lifestyle Center) opened up. And I had to think because the job at the hospital was great, but it’s a high power job. It’s a lot of work; you almost have to be married to your work. So I applied for the senior center, about five years ago, I got it and I love it. It’s been a wonderful learning experience for me…how to live well and age well.”
What a journey you’ve been on, Kerry! Growing up as a NASA kid, it seems like you’ve been to the moon and back! Thank you for sharing your past with us. Is there anything giving you a jump for joy as you look forward towards the future? “You know, I like to work, but it’s not so much the work. I like to feel like I’m making a difference. But I don’t want that to be at the expense of my family. That’s why I’m thinking about what retirement looks like or where the balance is. I just pray and ask the Lord where He wants me. If I ask Him about that, He’ll bless me and give me the tools I need to succeed. That’s how I ended up where I am now. So, as far as the future goes, I’m really just curious about what that’s going to look like.”
That’s a fantastic attitude to have, Kerry. Would you say that this positive attitude translates over to how you feel about Elko? What would you say if someone asked you to describe your thoughts on our area? “Well, I would say loyal. I think a lot of people come here and say they’re only going to be here for a couple of years and then I’m out. But the people who really sort of settle in, even if it’s within that short period of time, are the ones who start to love it. They start to love the fact that the people here are truly genuine. They really care about each other. It’s a great place for kids. And, if you’re honest, devoted to doing a good job, and put in a good day’s work then you’ll find success. It may not look as easy as it does in a bigger city, but that’s good because it may lead someone to step their own game up to differentiate themselves because there is a lot of accountability here. I think there are good values here and it’s a very giving community. And that’s pretty hard to leave; I would miss that if I were ever away from it again.”
Alright Kerry, as we wrap up this feature, do you have any final words of encouragement that you want to leave us with this time? “I would like to encourage people to relax where they are. Don’t struggle so hard to think that you might not have an opportunity or that if you live for an X amount of time then somehow you might be outside of a good thing. Bloom where you’re planted. If you’re here and you can embrace the community for what it is, not worry about what it isn’t, then you won’t be wasting time missing out on all of the amazing things that are here today. This (Elko) is a very beautiful and supportive place to live. I know when I left, I missed it when I didn’t think I would. I’m very happy here.”
Thank you so much for your time, Kerry! And thank you for being such a positive ray of sunshine in our town; it makes a difference!
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Stay see you around, Elko!