Before we were the “Silicon Valley”, Santa Clara Valley was the largest fruit production and packing region in the world known as the “Valley of Heart’s Delight”, with 39 canneries and hundreds of farms in operation during the 1960’s. Workers at the canneries and farms were bound by one commonality, non-existent medical care or services.
We began during the “Valley of the Heart’s Delight” and are celebrating fifty years of service to our community in what is now “Silicon Valley.” To mark this monumental occasion, we are conducting interviews with Gardner staff at the various health center sites to showcase the history that brought us together. This is the first in a series of blogs meant to document and illuminate the history of Gardner Health Services and its impact on patients, employees, and the larger Santa Clara Valley community.
In the late 1960s, the production and packing industries peaked in Santa Clara Valley, as did the Cultural Revolution that was electrifying the country. San Jose was not impervious to social change. In 1968, San Jose State University students John Carlos and Tommie Smith challenged the status quo on racial relations at the Olympic games in Mexico; Senator Robert F. Kennedy gave his presidential campaign speech at St. James Park; and the first Chicano Commencement protest was held at San Jose State University, spurred on by playwright Luis Valdez and other Chicano activists.
1968 was also the year that Alviso Family Health Center was founded in the tight knit community of Alviso followed shortly thereafter by the establishment of Gardner Health Center in central San Jose. In the next months we will share how two communities and their clinics came together to form Gardner Health Services.
Celebrate with us as we reflect on the stories shared by CEO Reymundo Espinoza and 72 other employees, all who have been with the organization(s) at least 20 years and one who has been here from day one. We hope to commemorate the grit and determination of bringing medical services to the working class in the region. It is also a time to recognize and acknowledge the enduring impact the community and Gardner have had on Santa Clara County and our country. Gardner has served over one million patients throughout the years. Much has changed and yet generations have remained a part of the Gardner family.
“This in my judgment, the year 1968, is a time to create, not to destroy. This is a time to work — for men to work out with a sense of decency, and not with bitterness. This is a time to begin again…”- Robert F. Kennedy, speaking to a crowd of 10,000 at St. James Park San Jose, CA.
Content curated by Antonio Nunez, Jr.
Photo credit: http://historysanjose.pastperfectonline.com/photo