IEHP team member lends voice to ‘Homegrown Heroes Project’

Health Care and Community News

For Immediate Release 

Source: IEHP


Contact: Inland Empire Health Plan 

Kristina Hernandez, Media & Public Relations Strategist

909-552-0509 | kristina.hernandez@iehp.org

As a child, Ben Jauregui remembers watching a young neighbor with a visible disability get on a yellow bus but never saw the boy at school.


“I always wondered where they were taking him, why he wasn’t at my school, and why I didn’t see other kids like him there. It just didn’t seem right,” said Jauregui, a manager of integrated transitional care at Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP).


Thus began Jauregui’s lifelong journey of speaking out for a marginalized disabled community – an inspiring story which has now been captured on video as part of upcoming Homegrown Heroes oral history project by the Civil Rights Institute of Inland Southern California (CRIISC).


Twenty-five local voices and their stories will form the basis of both a series of short films and an exhibition opening in Fall 2024. Jauregui was selected for the project from a list of potential storytellers with diversified backgrounds and causes, including civil rights work in the areas of race, national origin, gender, gender identity and sexual orientation, and disability.


“We want to tell stories of inland area civil rights activists,” said CRIISC’s Executive Director Sabrina Gonzales. “The goal is to uplift communities who have been traditionally unheard and under-represented. When you see people who are like you, from your community in these leadership roles, maybe you can see yourself doing the same kind of work.”


Jauregui’s story will highlight his experience, advice for other civil rights activists, and what legacy he wants to leave behind. Already, his resume is filled with significant career highlights, from more than 25 years of experience in managed care and nonprofit management to his work with the Inland Coalition on Aging as a founding board chair. He was previously appointed by California Governors Schwarzenegger and Brown to serve on the California State Independent Living Council. In 2009, was awarded the Civil Rights Hero Award by the California Civil Rights Department at its annual conference.


Last September, Jauregui and the Inland Coalition on Aging formally introduced the Inland Empire’s Master Plan for Aging, a document created to address better quality of life options – such as housing, transportation and health services – for older adults, people with disabilities and caregivers.


Jauregui said he’s just getting started.


“Being raised low income, I saw the barriers people faced, and it just seemed wrong that there would be roadblocks that prevent people from participating in life,” he said. “I made that my life’s purpose: to remove obstacles so that people with disabilities specifically can participate in society.”


Based in Riverside, the Civil Rights Institute Inland Southern California is home to a 1,500-square-foot exhibition space, media center with full audio and video recording and production abilities, and a community meeting space.


Funding for the space and its exhibitions come from grants and private donations. The nonprofit is currently raising funds for the Homegrown Heroes project, which is projected to cost a total of $188,128 for the oral histories and their archiving, short films on each civil rights leader interviewed for the project, and the exhibition in the fall. The project is underwritten in part by Creative Corps Inland SoCal administered by Inland Empire Community Foundation and California Humanities. To learn more about the CRIISC, go to www.inlandcivilrights.org

About IEHP

With a mission to heal and inspire the human spirit, Inland Empire Health Plan (IEHP) is one of the top 10 largest Medicaid health plans, the largest not-for-profit Medicare-Medicaid public health plan in the country, and for the third year in a row, certified as A Great Place To Work®. In its 27th year, IEHP supports more than 1.4 million Riverside and San Bernardino County residents enrolled in Medicaid or IEHP DualChoice (those with both Medi-Cal and Medicare). Today, IEHP has a growing network of nearly 6,800 providers and more than 3,000 team members who are fully committed to the vision: We will not rest until our communities enjoy optimal care and vibrant health. To learn more, go to iehp.org.