Employee Spotlight: Juan Portillo Fuentes

 Butterfield Floor Technician and Friend to All

“To know him is to love him” would accurately describe how Butterfield residents and staff feel about Juan Portillo Fuentes. A dedicated BTV team member since 2016, Juan’s role as the Village floor technician would be a mostly behind-the-scenes job for the more typical employee – but because of his obvious warmth and kindness, residents truly love engaging with Juan as he makes his way around campus each day. Some even go so far as to bake him special treats, watching for him as he comes by or takes a break.

Originally from El Salvador, Juan moved to St. Paul, Minn. in 2001. He never got completely used to the extreme difference in climate between his tropical birthplace and the frigid upper Midwest winter. After a fortuitous visit to Arkansas, Juan decided to make Springdale his permanent home. “I really liked the natural surroundings of Northwest Arkansas,” said Juan. “I loved seeing the farms nearby and the beautiful green of the hills. And, I wanted to leave the cold!”

Trained as an electrician in El Salvador, Juan’s work experience was initially built on doing a lot of small technical jobs. Once he relocated to Arkansas, he quickly found an opportunity that had him working an overnight shift. As he would make the dark drive home at 2 a.m., he would always closely observe the lights of the Butterfield campus along Joyce Boulevard. “I told myself I was going to work at that beautiful place someday. I didn’t know who lived there, but I knew I was going to find a way to be part of it,” said Juan. Less than a month later, right around Christmastime, the heavens smiled and his dream came true – he was hired practically on the spot for the role he has now filled for over eight years.

Juan takes enormous pride in his work and has learned all about the functions and maintenance of the specialized, often temperamental machines he uses to keep the Butterfield floors shiny and spotless. While his commitment to doing the best possible job is always on his mind, his heart is with the residents he feels led to serve.

“I enjoy it here so much,” he said. “I respect people’s experience and like to hear their stories. I love that our residents are retired, but they still want to learn new things.” Juan makes it his personal mission to take care of people in the best way he knows, by being friendly and putting others first. For him, caring so much about the residents can be hard when he eventually loses someone he considers a beloved friend – but it is always worth the emotional investment.

Juan is a true family man who can’t help but smile when talking about his wife and children. Married to his “queen” Brenda for 18 years, he says he’s “never lost one day with her” because they’ve stuck together faithfully through both the good times and the tough times. His 18-year-old son, David, is bilingual, very bright and an excellent cook. Daughter and “little princess” Gabriela is 14 and loves music so much – she is now teaching herself to play the piano keyboard by watching YouTube videos. He also loves his tiny sidekick, Capitán, a black chihuahua-mix pup with lots of personality. “I don’t try to be a perfect husband or father. There’s only ever been one perfect person – Jesus Christ. I just try to do my best, be firm when I need to and show what is the right way,” said Juan. “They will see my love.”