Erin Cueto has a passion for her community and seeing her hometown thrive. She was born and raised in Westchester, and after receiving a degree in Molecular and Cell Biology from UC Berkeley, earning a Doctor of Pharmacy from the University of Colorado and traveling the world, she returned home to follow in her mother’s footsteps.
As owner of Westchester Pharmacy, a business her family has owned since 1984, Erin is proud of being able to serve the people of Westchester/Playa. She says owning a business where she can create positive change is inspiring. Erin brings that same positivity to her community as President of the Westchester Rotary Club and enjoys volunteering for projects that benefit the neighborhood.
While she has worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to share information, be a resource for PPE and keep people safe–she estimates she and her team have given more than 5,000 vaccines–she’s looking forward to being able to hop on a plane again to visit someplace new and exciting. In the spring, she’ll head to Puerto Rico for a humanitarian trip with Rotary. When Erin’s not bettering her community or the world, she enjoys spending time with her family, husband Mario and children Camela, 3 and Santiago, 2.
We recently sat down with her and asked her to share her thoughts, so here is “5 Questions With…Erin!”
If you’re looking for the perfect evening out, where are you going?
Honestly, it would be somewhere we could take the kids. As much as my husband and I enjoy each other, we enjoy being all together as a family even more. I love places that offer space for kids to be kids like the Proud Bird. Their playground is awesome. They have offerings where the parents can try different drinks and foods and the kids can play. The ideal place would be someplace that offers quality stuff for adults, and also offers a place for kids to be themselves.
What’s something the neighborhood needs more of and something it needs less of?
Something we definitely need more of is open common spaces that are open to the public. We need more places that we can gather, meet and hang out that are also family-friendly. Westchester just screams for that. The few places that we have get packed! Café Solar for example, if you visit during the middle of the day, it’s crowded! It’s hard to say anything negative, but maybe less businesses that come from outside that don’t serve the community and that don’t offer anything to the local community, but come in and reap the benefits without giving back. There are very few I see like that, but sometimes when I see a spot available [for lease], I’m a little disappointed about the type of places that eventually open up. I’m like, ‘That could have gone to something a little bit more local!’
What is your favorite neighborhood tip or trick?
I probably would say to get involved with one of the online parent groups. They have all the information and resources! It just takes me asking a question on a mom’s Facebook group, and I quickly have five recommendations, and people offering to help! For everyone who moves into the area, I tell them to get involved with something, whether it’s an online group, a neighborhood club or Neighborhood Watch. My favorite local group, is of course, Rotary.
What’s one local spot you couldn’t live without?
The YMCA! The Westchester YMCA has served me and my family at all stages of life. As an infant it’s where I learned to swim at 6-months-old. As a child it was where I did summer camps and Adventure Guides. As a teenager and adult, I worked out and trained at the facility, and now I’ll be teaching my own kids to swim there! I’m hoping they get involved with the Youth in Government Program when they’re older. I’m so proud of our YMCA and how it’s the center point for Westchester families.
What do you tell people that are new to the area about Westchester?
We met a new couple with a 1-year-old that recently moved in down the street. We invited the family over on Saturday to BBQ with us, and they wanted to know the low-down on everything Westchester! We told them that during the first week in our house our neighbors took our trash out for us because they weren’t sure that we knew when collection day was! Now we take long walks, not because we walk long distances, but because we bump into familiar faces and stop to chat and catch up. We shared that there’s a strong local culture here of being open and neighborly. If you come from an area where you’ve never met your neighbors, it can be intimidating; but when you embrace it, you gain this whole network of support and a proud sense of belonging.
Published February 2022. Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner.