Herbert Menjivar: Celebrating Community in Two Hometowns

By Robert Hood

Herbert Menjivar and his colleague Ameer Mumin operate trash and recycling receptacles at the Mission Bay campus. Photo by Susan Merrell

To Herbert Menjivar, his community is the center of his life, both here and in his native country of El Salvador.

Menjivar is currently a senior custodian working with a team of four charged with cleaning the housing complex at Mission Bay. During his 13-year career at UCSF, he has worked at Parnassus, Aldea and other UCSF campuses.

“We clean the housing units when the tenants leave,” he said. “We get them ready for new tenants. We also clean the common area. It has lots of parties and gatherings so we spend a lot of time shampooing carpets and waxing the floors.”

Herbert Menjivar

Photo by Susan Merrell

Girod St. Martin, an assistant facilities superintendent, said working with Herbert is a pleasure. “He is always willing to go above and beyond what is asked of him. So much so that I have to tell him to slow down, stop, or take a break. He cares about his work and it shows.”

Leslie Santos, director of Housing Services at UCSF, said Menjivar is an employee you wish you could clone. “He approaches every project with a ‘can do’ attitude, is eager to learn new things, and genuinely cares about the quality of work,” she said. “I love that when I see him he always has a smile to offer.”

As popular as Menjivar is on campus, he’s even more popular in his hometown of Armenia, El Salvador. Herbert and his family still have a home in the city, where he has worked with friends and neighbors to establish the Centro Cultural Armeniense. The cultural center has 95 students studying music, English, dancing and computer maintenance.

“We host art exhibits, a homework club for local kids, and a limited medical center,” Herbert said. He works with friends and family to raise money to fund activities at the cultural center. They also fund a local soccer team for kids.

Each November, Herbert travels to Armenia for three weeks to celebrate with family and friends at the cultural center. “It’s very important to me to give back to my community.”

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