The sign of a career well served is retiring from a department you helped to create.
Dolores Gomez, the division director for the Colusa County Office of Education’s Children’s Services is retiring after 38 years of service.
Gomez’ last day of work is today, Feb. 18, the day before her 58th birthday.
Children’s Services includes Head Start, State Preschool, Alternative Payment programs, and Resource and Referral, which helps local families with their childcare needs.
In 1983, Gomez, who was just 20 years old, started as the family advocate at the Williams Children’s Center, assisting parents with Head Start enrollments.
“I loved working with the families,” Gomez said. “I love children, but families were my passion.”
Two years later, when Colusa County Office of Education received funding to expand programs, Gomez was on the ground floor of forming the Children’s Resource and Referral Program with Julie Struckmeyer and Patricia Kalfsbeek.
“We were a team of three in 1985,” Gomez said. “Now we are 85.”
Gomez worked her way up the ladder within the department, which later became Children’s Services as additional programs were added.
“I took advantage whenever something came up,” she said. “I even went back to school and got my degree in child development.”
Married with children of her own, Gomez took classes at Yuba College, Butte College, and Chico State University.
Gomez, and her husband, Abel Gomez, a longtime member of the Board of Trustees for Pierce Joint Unified School District, raised five children, and are parents of an adopted son, who is still at home.
As a working mother, Gomez said the most satisfaction she has received during her long career, is helping families with their child care needs – and helping childcare providers succeed in their businesses.
Gomez played a large role in helping local providers receive instruction in business, CPR and First Aid, Preventative Health, Trauma Informed care, and more.
“We currently have 48 providers in Colusa County,” she said. “They are small business owners and they generate so much for our county. Without them, our families can’t work. They provide some quality care. About 80 percent are Spanish speaking only, and, still, they are very successful.”
Gomez said she is very proud of Colusa County’s quality and well-trained child care providers, who fit the needs of working families in the area.
“They work weekends, they open early and stay open late,” she said. “They work very, very hard. That is my biggest satisfaction, having helped them get to where they are. And I am going to miss that.”
Gomez has worked for three superintendents of school, the most recent of which is Mike West, and a number of assistant superintendents.
Gomez her immediate plans after retirement is just to stay home.
Gomes, who lives in Arbuckle, does have some plans for travel, and will go to the Fallen Officer Memorial in Washington DC, in May, in honor of her niece, Natalie Corona, a Davis Police Officer, who was killed in the line of duty on Jan. 10, 2019.
She also plans to help her daughter-in-law, who was recently licensed in child care in Arbuckle.
“I want to stay busy,” Gomez said. ♣