Reyno Peralta, ‘caretaker in the truest sense of the word,’ wins 2017 Amy J. Blue Award

Reyno Peralta, the lead custodian at Florence Moore Hall, is one of this year’s winners of the Amy J. Blue Award, which honors staff members who are exceptionally dedicated, supportive of colleagues and passionate about their work.

If Reyno Peralta walks into a lounge in Florence Moore Hall and finds a student fast asleep, laptop, books and papers piled nearby, he knows that student needs to rest – not to be startled awake by the sound of a vacuum cleaner.

“Sometimes students fall asleep in the lounge because they’re studying for midterms or finals,” said Peralta, the lead custodian in the residence hall, which is home to more than 500 undergraduate students. “I remind my coworkers that we can vacuum later. We don’t bother them. We just clean around them.”

Rey Peralta (Image credit: L.A. Cicero)

Peralta, whom everyone knows as “Rey,” has worked at Stanford for nearly three decades. He began working as a custodian in Florence Moore Hall, a sprawling complex located along Mayfield Avenue, in May 1989.

Peralta, who works for Student Housing Operations, a division of Residential & Dining Enterprises, was promoted to lead custodian in 1997.

“FloMo,” as the residence hall is known, has seven separate houses – some filled with first-year students, some filled with students from all four classes – during the school year. During the summer, FloMo houses high school students from around the world.

The custodians are responsible for cleaning the common areas – hallways, lounges, restrooms – and reporting problems such as broken showerheads, leaks and other house maintenance issues.

“If there is something wrong, my coworkers call me to let me know,” Peralta said. “If I can’t solve it, I tell my manager about it.”

Peralta said the best part of his job is the students.

“I love the students,” he said. “I’m old, but hanging out with the students every Monday through Friday is the best. It keeps me young.”

Peralta said he is proud to wear his Stanford uniform: khaki slacks and a maroon polo shirt with the red-and-white embroidered logo of Residential & Dining Enterprises.

“I’m proud of this logo right here,” he said, pointing to the red-and-white square, which is divided into four quadrants representing housing, dining, hospitality and students. “I take pride in what I’m doing.”

Peralta is one of the winners of this year’s Amy J. Blue Award, which honors staff members who are exceptionally dedicated, supportive of colleagues and passionate about their work.

The other two winners are Elizabeth “Becky” Fischbach, exhibition designer and manager for Stanford University Libraries, and Laura Hubbard, associate director for the Center for African Studies, which coordinates an interdisciplinary program in African Studies for undergraduate and graduate students.

President Marc Tessier-Lavigne will present the awards at a May 24 ceremony for the winners and their families, friends and colleagues. The ceremony, which begins at 3:30 p.m., will be held in Lagunita Courtyard, located on Santa Teresa Street across from Roble Field. Refreshments will be served.

A childhood in the Philippines

Peralta, who grew up on a rice farm in the Philippines with nine siblings, was the youngest of the three boys in the family. They lived in Pangasinan Province, located about four hours north of Manila, a place where the typhoon season lasted from June to October.

Their days started early – 4 to 5 a.m. – in the rice field, followed by school, then more work in the field. It was year-round work; every three months the family planted a new crop. In high school, he played basketball.

“Basketball in the Philippines is huge,” Peralta said. “It’s our sport.”

Peralta passed along his love of the sport to his two sons. Peralta’s 24-year-old son coaches junior varsity basketball at a San Jose high school during the school year and coaches his 15-year-old brother’s AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) team during the summer.

Peralta arrived in California in 1985 after finishing high school, joining his stepmother and father, who was working at Ricker Dining Hall at Stanford. Soon after arriving, Peralta landed temporary summer jobs in housing and dining on campus. He began working full-time in May 1988 as a custodian at Governor’s Corner on the west side of campus.

Peralta and his wife, Jinky, who works in payer authorizations and patient financial clearance at Stanford Health, also have a 27-year-old daughter, who works in human resources at a Silicon Valley company.

Respected by peers, students and management

Jeffrey Murphy, the housing building manager who oversees FloMo and eight other student residences, said Peralta comes to work every day with a smile on his face and a genuine desire to make things better.

“Rey has a rare combination of qualities that make him extraordinary in his role,” Murphy said. “He has a keen emotional intelligence, recognizing that he is not just maintaining buildings, but is helping to create a welcoming home for over 500 students. When you combine that with his extensive knowledge of FloMo and his devotion to excellence, you have someone on the team who raises our standards every day.”

He said Peralta goes out of his way to make students feel welcome and at home.

“Rey is real,” Murphy said. “His caring for our students and his teammates is evident in the small and large things he does every day.”

Recently, Murphy heard Peralta quietly ask a student how he was feeling because he knew the student had been sick the week before.

“In another instance, Rey quickly fabricated a tool that would retrieve a set of keys from within a piano so a very anxious student could go to her room and study during finals,” Murphy said.

“Rey sees students as individuals, not as an undifferentiated group of people. He has the kind of role that could go unnoticed until something goes wrong, but he has made the role into something more. Rey is a caretaker in the truest sense of the word. He takes remarkable care of FloMo, his team members and our students. Stanford is so lucky to have him and I am particularly blessed to have him on my team.”