Legacy staff member, Herenia Mairena, shares her journey to IHSD from 1985.

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Hello everyone, my name is Herenia Mairena, and I have the privilege to share how I came to join IHSD and share some of my favorite memories from IHSD’s beginnings.

In leaving my country and everything I’ve ever known behind to come to the United States, I knew it would be very difficult to adapt to a whole new environment. However, I had a dream. My dream was to find a job in something I knew I’d be good at, to be a preschool teacher. Fortunately, my prayers were heard.

“My dream was to find a job in something I knew I’d be good at, to be a preschool teacher. Fortunately, my prayers were heard.”

I met a lady, also from Nicaragua, who told me all about IHSD. She was a home visitor and strongly encouraged me to apply. When I applied to the South San Francisco site, I remember meeting a very sweet and elegant woman who invited me to sit. She had a big smile and made me feel very welcomed. She was IHSD’s founder, Dr. Jean van Keulen. At that moment, I said to myself, “This is what I am looking for! A program that would open the door for me, and I am sure they open the door for families that need help and support.” I was very impressed to see the importance of the role of parents in the program. Families were treated with love and respect. This was very important to me, because I came from a very united family. I decided to continue providing high-quality care to families and help children attain a successful future.

“I was very impressed to see the importance of the role of parents in the program. Families were treated with love and respect.”

Here are some of my favorite memories from IHSD beginnings:

  • We had employee retreats to help us relax for two to three days, which gave us the opportunity to enjoy each other’s company as a family would. We shared experiences and learned from one another.
  • We had in-house classes that were led by Dr. Jean van Keulen. I had the opportunity to participate in three units worth of classes on organization, administration of child care program, and child development training.
  • During the Christmas season, we had trainings full of fun, joy, happiness, good food, and raffles.
  • Lastly, I remember the field trips we used to organize to places around the Bay Area, including Oakland Zoo, Sausalito, Build-a-Bear Factory, Chevy’s Restaurant, and San Jose Discovery Planet. We had good family engagement.

I am so fond of my memories with IHSD. Thank you for the opportunity to share this with you.

– Herenia Mairena, IHSD staff (1985 – present)