For the past 20 years, the Southeastern Utah District Health Department has been home to Mae Aguayo. Her friendly smile and upbeat spirit has been shared with co-workers and clients alike.
Although she admits to loving her job, it is time for Aguayo to move on and begin a new chapter in her life. May 15 will mark her final day as a health department employee, then it’s time for retirement to begin.
Looking back on her career, Aguayo thought back on the many changes she witnessed in the health industry and reflected upon the families that touched her life that she met through the health department.
“I began working here as a clerk and just moved into roles as I was needed,” she stated. “But my favorite job was working with special needs kids. They have all touched my heart in their own special way.”
Aguayo played a crucial role in securing regular health care clinics for low-income, special needs children in the local area. Doctors, medical staff and specialists visit the area three times each year offering services to qualifying families. The program was made possible by grants and various funding secured by Aguayo.
“I love helping at the clinics,” she admitted. “I am proud to say I never missed one.”
In recent years, she has been a case manager for the Medicaid program. Whether it’s answering questions about insurance coverage or educating Medicaid recipients about prevention and treatment, Aguayo has helped countless community members throughout her career.
Even outside of work, she has made a difference in the community. Aguayo and her husband Joe served as house parents for nearly 13 years for the Children’s Justice Center. She is known for her cooking and hospitality throughout the area. Many public events have been catered with her homemade entrees.
Aguayo served one year on the Price City Council, but stepped down in order to adopt a child. She has received Woman of the Year honors and a humanitarian award from the health department. Recently, she received the statewide Molina Healthcare Community Champions Award for her role in helping local residents.
“People take care of people here in our community,” she said. “We help each other. If we think positive, then positive will happen.”
Although Aguayo plans on moving to New Mexico following her retirement, she would like to perform one final service project for the local area before she goes.
“I want grass on that field at Pinnacle Canyon Academy,” she laughed. “We are so close to having everything lined up, but we could still use donations.” These may be made directly through the school.
Supplies, volunteers and various other donations have already been made, but Aguayo would like to see the project through before her departure.
“People have been so nice already, I hate to ask for more, but these kids need a place to play,” she said. “This is my final project I want to push before I leave.”
By securing grants, conducting fundraisers and public support, Aguayo has found ways to help countless community members during her career at the health department. She admits none of this would have been possible without the help of others.
“I just want to say thanks to everyone who has never told me no,” she concluded. “I have had support from so many people throughout years. This support has made everything possible.”