It Takes a Village: A Conversation with OCF President Richard Westin

(Jeff Heyman, Photographer)
Longtime Orinda resident and 2012 Citizen of the Year, Richard Westin, treasures travel, photography and volunteer work. He has spent years coaching youth sports and is currently the Orinda Community Foundation President.

As president of the Orinda Community Foundation, what do you see as the most vital community events the foundation sponsors?
    Yearly, we publicize funds are available for local nonprofits seeking money for particular causes or events within our community. We never know what the requests will be. Some years the requests exceed $100,000.
    Events and programs we support are Fourth of July Parade, Lamorinda Idol, Concerts in the Park, Live At the Orinda!, Seniors Around Town and the Garden Club. We also support the Moraga Adobe, the oldest building in Contra Costa County. We’re providing the Adobe with funds to buy the property.

As an Orinda resident for 50 years, what are some of the biggest changes you have seen in the city?
    The City hasn’t changed much. Some people think it’s wonderful, some think we need an update. I will leave those decisions for the planning commission, city council and the voters to decide.
    Agemark, a company which provides senior living facilities, which you co-founded in 1987, is opening a memory care facility in Orinda. How is that project coming along?
    It’s going to be a beautiful building. My guess is it will be a 2025 opening. That will be our 31st location. It’s called “CountryHouse at Wilder.”
    I used to be a lawyer but left the profession because it didn’t provide enough emotional pull for me. Taking care of seniors and their families for me is a game changer. We get to provide fun and passionate care for seniors who desperately need our love and services every day. What a joy!

Travel and photography are two of your hobbies. Where is your favorite place to go and what kind of photos do you take there?
    My favorite place in the world for scenery is Patagonia. My favorite style of photo is unposed head shots of people going about living their lives. Adding one more category: Most wonderful place on earth … New Zealand.
    You’ve coached kids’ teams in lacrosse, baseball, basketball, softball and tennis. You’re 81 and still coaching, including your 14th year as tennis coach at Miramonte High School. What do you love about coaching youth sports?
    I have always loved children and sports, so being a coach is the natural confluence of these two passions.

What do you think makes Orinda special?
    The picturesque environment, schools and wonderful neighbors. We have that rare combination of being the closest Contra Costa community to San Francisco, while being the most (semi) rural. It is this wonderful combination that makes Orinda so appealing.

What drives your deep and continuous service to the community?
    I was fortunate to be named Orinda’s 2012 Citizen of the Year. That was, for me, really a wonderful moment in my life. Volunteering for various committees or commissions this past half-century are a central part of who I am.

What advice can you give Orinda citizens who are looking for ways to increase their involvement with the community?
    Show up. [There are] lots of events the Orinda Community Foundation helps sponsor.
    My advice is, be a part of the life in this community and you will not only enrich your own life, but enrich the lives of all of us, because as the saying goes: it takes a village to create that special feeling we call “home”… Orinda.

Andrea Madison can be reached at

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