A Pioneering Perspective: Alex Candalla

Alex Candalla has served as executive director of The Terraces of Los Gatos in Los Gatos, Calif., since 1999. Candalla has been recognized nationally for mentoring a new generation of senior living professionals.

Q: The foster youth job program you’ve established at The Terraces of Los Gatos may well be the only one of its kind in the senior living arena. Why was it so important to you?
I had read and heard about the challenges young people meet when they age out of the foster care system. Welfare systems seem to focus on youth safety and staying in school, but a first job is a rite of passage.  We care about mentoring our employees and nurturing their careers in the health care field, and this is a great way to serve and connect with our community.”

Q: By partnering with a local nonprofit, TeenForce, you’re essentially giving these kids more than just a job, but a chance for a new life. Tell us about that.
What we are trying to do is to provide them a positive work experience and the self-esteem and relationships that are established through working here. We want to reach out to these teenagers and provide them with valuable experiences they can use in later years.

Q: What changes have you observed in the teens you’ve hired at the community thus far?
They are developing etiquette and skills for this work environment. Their confidence and demeanor have improved. I really am delighted. There isn’t another program out there like this.