News

eNewsletters

In the News

As life returns to normal in some displaced by CZU Lightning Fire others still struggling – KSBW, June 2022
Susan True is the CEO of the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County which works closely with disaster case managers to provide funding. “Those funds are available for fire survivors through our disaster care management managers. So, organizations: Catholic Charities, Mountain Community Resources and Davenport resource center can help fire survivors to apply for funds to help with their rebuilding,” True said.

County budget cuts to essential senior services: How you can help – Lookout Santa Cruz, June 2022
But for those who rely on Mountain Community Resources in Felton for a hot shower a few times each week, losing access to that facility results in a reduction of services for that community. This is true for the over $2.2 million dollars of services that have been lost as a result of this recommendation. 

Puentes Comunitarios protesta por posible recorte de $800,000 en el presupuesto 2022-2023– KION, June 2022
Una nueva propuesta reduciría 800 mil dólares al presupuesto de la organización Puentes Comunitarios en el Condado de Santa Cruz y podría afectar a cientos de familias latinas en plena crisis de inflación. Los líderes de Puentes Comunitarios protestaron hoy en Watsonville y advierten que si se realiza este recorte, varios servicios que ofrecen a la comunidad dejarán de existir. 

Santa Cruz County proposing cut to Community Bridges funding – KION, June 2022
“It’s gonna have a devastating impact on the family resource centers locally. We usually serve about 6 thousand people a year. We’re going to only be able to serve about 3 thousand a year,” Raymon Cancino, a spokesperson for Community Bridges said. “We’re going to have cuts across the board. Seventy-six percent of all our clients are people of color. They’re people from the south county, and the reality is, is that losing that funding is going to negatively affect them.”

Local service providers condemn CORE investment recommendations – Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 2022
“It was disheartening to review the CORE funding recommendations. While I do see the importance of all the programs that are currently being recommended for funding, it is evident that the panel who reviewed the applications does not fully grasp the significance or importance of our family resource centers,” said Family Resource Collective Program Director Mayra Melendrez while speaking at the podium. Melendrez stressed the importance of family resource services which she said serves more than 6,000 participants each year and provides lockers, showers, laundry, food and mailing services to houseless participants. “It feels like we’re going to need to turn our backs on (participants) due to lack of funding and investments from the county.

Elderly services search for new home – Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2022
In that regard, Cancino and Berkowitz did have some positive news to share: Meals on Wheels secured a space to provide in-person senior dining services at the Mid-County Senior Center, after the center’s board approved a recent proposal. Community Bridges currently operates two additional dining sites in north and south county, but Berkowitz says this midtown location will prove to be a critical resource.

Guest Commentary | Community is essential in mental wellness – Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2022
We’ve grown our Spanish programs 300%, hired four bilingual/bicultural staff members, and partnered with trusted organizations in Pajaro Valley including Salud Para La Gente and Community Bridges to ensure that we can support Santa Cruz County’s Spanish speaking community. We offer no-cost bilingual (English and Spanish) education and support to those affected by mental illness and their care providers.

Meals on Wheels facing eviction – The Pajaronian, May 2022
Meals on Wheels (MOW) is looking for a new home after being served an eviction notice by Live Oak School District, which has been leasing its location to the organization for more than four decades. The district has told the organization that the aging space poses several safety concerns, and that it is looking to convert the spot at 1777 Capitola Road into teacher housing. MOW says it knew about those plans, so the news did not come as a shock. Still, the six-month deadline is posing a challenge for MOW, which runs its kitchen, dining site and administrative offices out of the site, says Jayme Ackemann, a spokesperson for Community Bridges, which runs the meal delivery program. “We understood there were long-term plans for this site, and we were working towards our own long-term location,” she said. “But we believed we had more time to do that.” MOW makes and distributes more than 180,000 meals annually to Santa Cruz County seniors. 

After 45 years Santa Cruz Meals on Wheels in need of new kitchen location – KSBW, May 2022
It also means, the nonprofit organization will lose the commercial size kitchen it uses to prepare meals, said, Carol Childers, Assistant Program Manager for Meals on Wheels. “The meals have been coming out of the kitchen next door for 45 years and those hot meals go to all of our meal sites throughout the county,” Childers said. “The building is literally going to fall apart.”

New Challenges As Santa Cruz County’s Age Demographics Shift – Good Times, March 2022
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, by 2030… older Americans will make up 21% of the population, compared to 15% today… How can communities better meet the needs of their older populations?… Elderday Adult Day Health Care… will add an additional 3,600 square feet of space and allow the program to expand its services. “We’re just really excited because this means that we’re going to serve lots of seniors with medically complex needs, have daily access to nurses, to therapists, social workers, to help support their health as well as their well-being,” says Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino.

South County residents describe their priorities for supervisor candidates – Santa Cruz Local, March 2022
Rent assistance was the most frequently mentioned priority in surveys and interviews with District 4 residents. Benito Perez, 66, is a registered District 4 voter and also works in the berry fields… He wants the supervisorial candidates to address the high cost of rent. He does not have an income in the winter since farm work is seasonal. “Lower the rents. The salaries that we make are little and the rent is so high,” Perez said. “The cost of food is rising and the gas is going up. What’s going to happen now?”

Caring for those who can’t yet leave COVID behind – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2022
So many remain in desperate need of assistance, legal aid, and landlord tenant mediation. We’ve transitioned from the triage of the COVID-19 Relief Fund to our ongoing Greatest Needs Fund, which is supporting nonprofit partners including Community Bridges, Community Action Board, Families in Transition, Conflict Resolution Center, and Senior Citizens Legal Services whose offices are clamoring with families looking for help.

La moratoria para desalojos en el condado de Santa Cruz vence el 31 de Marzo – NoticiasYa, March 2022
La moratoria para desalojos en el condado de Santa Cruz vence el 31 de Marzo. La organización Puentes de la Comunidad todavía esta ayudando a los inquilinos que cumplan con los requisitos para evitar que sean desalojados de sus casas. (831) 316-1822

‘Best day of the year’: Caroline’s gives $500K to local nonprofits – The Pajaronian, March 2022
Caroline’s Nonprofit Thrift Shop donated $500,000 to local community-serving organizations on Sunday in a ceremony at Martinelli’s Company Store on Harvest Drive… Hospice of Santa Cruz, Jacob’s Heart Children’s Cancer Support Services and Coastal Kids Home Care were all awarded $35,000, while other nonprofits such as Community Bridges ($25,000), Monarch Services ($30,000) and Pajaro Valley Shelter Services ($20,000) were also handed funds.

Demand for homeless services climbs in Watsonville – Santa Cruz Local, February 2022
Mayra Melendrez knows the pressures on Watsonville families well. She is the program director for Community Bridges’ Family Resource Collective, which includes Watsonville-based La Manzana Community Resources… Like other service providers in Watsonville, La Manzana saw an increase in demand last year, especially on the rental assistance front. Melendrez estimated a 15% increase in demand for services from 2020 to 2021… When Melendrez first started working at the Watsonville location about six years ago, there were roughly 300 Monterey County clients. Now there are about 500, she said. “I would say it’s a combination of need and word of mouth,” Melendrez said of the trend.

Lift Line on the Apple App Store – Apple, February 2022
Lift Line allows you to manage your transportation on the go. We provide thousands of door-to-door rides a year to seniors and people with disabilities; allowing Santa Cruz County residents to maintain their independence. Our fleet of vehicles furnish comfortable trips for eligible riders, and our professional drivers offer door-to-door assistance from origin to destination. Escorts, personal care attendants, and a limited number of travelling companions are welcome. All Lift Line rides are free of cost to qualifying residents of Santa Cruz County.

Emergency Rental Assistance Program Webinar – Patch, February 2022
Attention Landlords! You’re invited to an upcoming Emergency Rental Assistance Program Webinar. Hear from knowledgeable presenters about the California Emergency Rental Assistance Program, legal considerations and free housing mediation services. Thursday, Feb. 17, noon-1 p.m. Presenters: Tonje Wold-Switzer from Community Bridges, Tanya Ridino from Senior Citizens’ Legal Services, and Lejla Bratovic from the Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz County.

News Archive

Giving Tuesday donations can help more than 2,000 nonprofits in Santa Cruz County – KSBW, November 2021
It is the season of giving and Giving Tuesday was a perfect day to get in the holiday spirit. The day encourages people to give back, by donating to charities or nonprofits… Giving Tuesday serves as a reminder to think about our neighbors and start the season with gratitude and giving. “For us, it’s a big fundraising opportunity. We raise a significant amount of funds to help us direct children and seniors and those living in our community. So, for us, it’s a big deal,” said Raymon Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges.

Nonprofit offers financial support to Big Basin Water customers – Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 2021
Residents that have been financially impacted by recent Big Basin Water Co. outages may be eligible for two Community Bridges financial relief programs… Community Bridges can supply eligible households of two people or more a $500 Visa gift card, or an individual household with a $250 gift card. If Big Basin customers don’t live in a property included in a red zone on the CZU damage map, they may also be eligible for Community Bridges COVID-19 funding. “There are people who are struggling with such a basic necessity as access to clean, safe, reliable water,” said Ackemann.

Our Community Must Remain Vigilant – Press Banner, November 2021
On Oct. 29, during MCR’s Mountain Affair fundraiser in Ben Lomond, I had the privilege of presenting the Mary Hammer Green Hart Award to volunteer Suzie Schwilk, who was honored for her support of MCR’s food pantry program. Suzie’s efforts certainly personify the life’s work of Mary Hammer, who helped to establish the Valley Women’s Club and has worked tirelessly to support the San Lorenzo Valley. We congratulate Suzie and thank her for her dedication to our mountain residents.

Meeting Wednesday on proposed Live Oak medical complex – Santa Cruz Local, November 2021
“The facility will be served by Santa Cruz Metro’s Paracruz and Lift Line which is operated by Community Bridges,” wrote John Swift, a consultant for the developer, in an email. “These services provide affordable door-to-door transportation options for the physically impaired and elderly.”

Mobile Covid-19 Testing Comes to Felton – San Lorenzo Valley Press-Banner, September 2021
A new partnership between Community Bridges and Santa Cruz County Public Health will provide additional opportunities for free Covid-19 testing in the San Lorenzo Valley. Community Bridges, a countywide nonprofit, will be hosting a traveling testing bus at its Mountain Community Resources location in Felton for residents who desire a test. “I’m thrilled that we are able to open this Covid testing site in Felton under a partnership with Mountain Community Resources,” he said. “With the Delta variant of the virus causing an increase in infections, there has been a disproportionate impact in the San Lorenzo Valley, where vaccination rates are among the lowest in the county. The beauty of this project is that the testing site is mobile and could eventually move around to meet the community’s needs.”

Mobile COVID-19 testing bus to launch in San Lorenzo Valley – KION, September 2021
Mountain Community Resources is offering a mobile testing bus that can administer 84 tests a day. The hours for the center are from Friday to Tuesday and last from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. “Rapid, local testing and vaccination resources will help keep kids in school, valley businesses open, and help to restore a sense of normalcy as the community continues to recover. We look forward to continuing our long history of meeting the needs of the valley,” said Community Bridges’ CEO Raymon Cancino. This mobile testing bus will be located behind the Mountain Community Resource Center in Felton at 6134 Highway 9.

Santa Cruz County caregivers talk vaccination rates, policies – Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 2021
Community Bridges, which offers health and human services in the county, announced this week it will begin requiring all employees to provide proof of vaccination with the exception of those granted a medical or religious exemption. CEO Ray Cancino said 87% of staff members were vaccinated as of Wednesday. “Part of stopping the spread of COVID-19 requires that we all act in community with one another and we sacrifice for the good of our community,”  Cancino said in a statement. “There are young children and immune-compromised individuals in our community who need our help to protect them from this virus.”

Red Tape and ‘Shadow Debt’ are Pushing Renters to the Edge – Good Times, July 2021
Minority households are also the most in need of rental assistance: in Santa Cruz County, the Latinx population accounted for over half of the Covid-19 cases, and statewide the Latinx population accounts for 40% of Covid-19 rent relief applicants. “When clients hear about this, they go out and they try to find it, and then they get burned out, and so people get frustrated,” says Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino.

Name Dropping | Steven Salyer to head Watsonville Community Hospital – Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 2021
Community Bridges will receive $48,122 to plan, develop, and implement the Edible Garden Project benefiting low-income children on the central coast of California, according to the office of Rep. Jimmy Panetta. “I am pleased to announce that the U.S. Department of Agriculture has made vital investments to increase access to healthy, nutritious food for students and communities on the Central Coast,” said Panetta said in a prepared release.

Local seniors might be facing food insecurity – KION, July 2021
“We hear a lot of people that, if it wasn’t for this meal, there would be nothing in my fridge. And so it’s just really something that, you know, is behind closed doors,” Raymon Cancino, Chief Executive Officer at Community Bridges. It’s becoming increasingly harder and harder for people to make ends meet, and many older adults across the Central Coast are struggling. And the cost of living continues to go up. “We know that seniors are on fixed incomes. They can’t afford to continue to also pay their rent and their medical Medicare B, Plan B things, and that they’re really struggling to just stay afloat,” Cancino.

Things To Do in Santa Cruz: July 7-13 – Good Times, July 2021
Join the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History (MAH) in a community conversation centered around the value of acknowledging community truth, struggle, and resilience through murals with local artists. Together with MAH Outreach Coordinator, Helen Aldana, artist Guillermo Aranda, Ray Cancino of Community Bridges, and Mireya Contreras Gomez gather to share and talk about land acknowledgment, representation, collaboration, and the censorship of art in public spaces.

Santa Cruz County urges renters, landlords to apply for rent relief – Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 2021
Following the state legislature’s extension of statewide eviction protections until Sept. 30, the County of Santa Cruz encourages tenants and landlords who have unpaid rent to begin the CA COVID-19 Rent Relief application process at HousingIsKey.com, according to a release from the county… Residents who need help with the application process may also contact the Rent Relief program’s local partner organizations: Mid- and North County: Community Bridges (Live Oak): 831-476-7284; Community Bridges (Beach Flats): 831-423-5747, ext. 13.

County seeks landlords before pandemic housing expires – Santa Cruz Local, July 2021
For more than 250 Santa Cruz County residents living in shelters and motel rooms through pandemic related programs, a race has begun to find permanent housing before temporary housing money expires in the coming months … Separate from Rehousing Wave, landlords and tenants can apply for a state rent relief program at housing.ca.gov or 833-430-2122. Tenants must meet income limits and have financial hardship related to the pandemic. For assistance with the application, call Community Bridges’ housing support line at 831-219-8607 or visit Community Bridges’ website.

Name dropping | Two Santa Cruz County student inventors honored – Santa Cruz Sentinel, July 2021
Meals on Wheels California appointed Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino to the Board that oversees statewide advocacy efforts in affiliation with Meals on Wheels America.

Community Bridges trades pints for vaccines at Watsonville pop-up clinic – Good Times, June 2021
Cancino said that incentives do work—they already had people signed up for the clinic prior to the day off. He added that if they had enough people interested in “Poke for a Pint,” they might hold similar events in the future. The Slough Brewing Collective on Hangar Way in Watsonville, and Greater Purpose Brewing Company in Santa Cruz have already expressed interest in teaming up. “We want to do whatever we can to get this county vaccinated, so things can keep improving,” Cancino said.

Pop-up bike lane demo coming to Portola – TPG Online Daily, June 2021
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused financial hardships for many in our County, but there is assistance available! California’s Housing is Key program has made more than $16 million available in rent relief to Santa Cruz County residents. Both landlords and tenants are eligible to apply, and the application can be found here. If you need help applying for the program, call our County’s hotline at 454-2332. Several community organizations can help you apply, including Communities Organized for Power in Action (COPA), Community Bridges, the United Way, Families in Transition, and the Community Action Board. Fill out this form to let these organizations know that you need help with the process.

Grants from Kaiser Permanente Santa Cruz urge COVID19 vaccination – Patch, June 2021
“We appreciate Kaiser Permanente’s leadership and role in ensuring equity and access are at the forefront in Santa Cruz County,” said Raymon Cancino, Chief Executive Officer of Community Bridges. “The funding will help us support the vaccination helpline as well as outreach and communications to target those most hesitant to access the vaccine.”

Hundreds of advocates urge Gov. Newsom to expand SB91 – Good Times, June 2021
“These actions are critical to preventing our families from venturing into the overwhelming homelessness crisis,” said Raymon Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges and an organizer with COPA. Cancino reminded everyone in attendance that the state budget is due on June 15—less than a week from the publishing of this article—and so action is needed as soon as possible.

Lunch program kicks off Monday – Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 2021
Kids up to age 18 can pick up a free lunch from noon to 1pm daily at sites in Santa Cruz and Watsonville through mid-August. Santa Cruz sites are open through Aug. 6 and most Watsonville sites open through Aug. 13. For a list of sites, dates and times please visit communitybridges.org/lmcr.

Mountain Community Resources Expands Services– Santa Cruz Mountain Bulletin, June 2021
The destruction and displacement from the CZU Lightning Complex fire, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic, left the residents of the San Lorenzo Valley and Scotts Valley with limited options for services to get back on their feet.  With many community members needing support, Mountain Community Resources expanded services and created new programs to assist the most vulnerable populations in their community. Read the full article here.

SC County housing advocates seek state eviction moratorium extension – Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 2021
In Santa Cruz County, the state operates its SB 91 program. In turn, the state is contracting with area organizations such as Community Bridges, Community Action Board, Families in Transition and the Conflict Resolution Center of Santa Cruz County to assist applicants with such things as difficulty accessing online applications or language barriers.

Creativity shines in Watsonville on murals throughout city – Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2021
A mural under renovation by Watsonville artist Yermo Aranda draws the attention of a passerby on the wall of the home of Women Infants and Children (WIC) program on West Lake Avenue in Watsonville… Watsonville is filled with murals and other works of public art that burst with color as well as messages of strength, courage and resilience.

New mask guidelines, wildfire warnings and happy birthday NPR – KAZU, April 2021
Homebound seniors in Santa Cruz County can let officials know whether they’d like to get vaccinated in their home in a new survey. Responses will help Public Health plan for homebound vaccination efforts. Residents can fill out the survey online or call/text Community Bridges’ helpline at 831-219-8607. Leave your name, phone number, age and zip code, and someone should get back to you within 48 hours.

Emergency sheltering for homeless could get a much-needed extension thanks to new federal funding – Lookout Santa Cruz, April 2021
About $100,000 for Meals on Wheels, an allotment directed by supervisors Tuesday amid worries that not enough attention was being paid to the southern portion of the county. The program had originally requested more than $570,000 to cover food costs associated with continuing the expansion of a 5-day breakfast pack for seniors sheltering in place, but program representatives said Tuesday that any amount of funding would help… Lisa Berkowitz, the program director of Meals on Wheels for the nonprofit Community Bridges, said that by May 2020 her organization had seen an 86% increase in the average daily number of seniors it was serving.

Santa Cruz County: Vaccine interest survey for the homebound – Patch, April 2021
If you are a homebound resident of Santa Cruz County and have not yet received a COVID-19 vaccination, Santa Cruz County Public Health would like to hear from you. If you need assistance filling out the survey, call or text Community Bridges’ Bridges to Access Vaccination Helpline at (831) 219-8607. Leave your name, phone number, age and zip code, and Community Bridges’ staff will call back within 48 hours.

How much is rent relief helping Californians? – CalMatters, April 2021
Community-based organizations across the state helping to roll out the program repeated the same message: There’s simply not enough funding to help them reach those most in need. “It doesn’t bring us confidence to know we’re underfunded yet expected to serve,” said Deutron Kebebew, a program director at Community Bridges in Santa Cruz. Kebebew said his organization didn’t get enough money to fund two full-time positions. Yet medium to large property management companies often have more staff members to help tenants submit applications.

Yvette Brooks, Mayor’s message | Volunteers are vital to Capitola – Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2021
Meals on Wheels volunteers generously spend its time organizing, preparing and delivering meals throughout our community. I recently had the opportunity to observe during its Community Champions week-long celebration to honor the brave seniors that have experienced extraordinary challenges over the past year. This event is part of a nationwide campaign to raise awareness for services that give voice to seniors experiencing isolation, food insecurity and poverty. It was truly a special day.

Santa Cruz County organizations bring resources straight to the community – KION, April 2021
Organizations like Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County and Community Bridges in Watsonville are designating food hubs to make access to food pantries and distributions easier for those with limited resources or who cannot travel far. “That’s why these locations exist is to make sure that underserved parts of our community have access within at least five miles of another one of our centers, they offer these weekly, sometimes bi-monthly opportunities at each one of the locations,” says Raymon Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges in Watsonville.

Centros de distribución de comida y asistencia por la pandemia en el Condado de Santa Cruz – KION, April 2021
Organizaciones como el banco de alimentos Second Harvest del Condado de Santa Cruz y Community Bridges en Watsonville son la fuente de comida de miles de residentes con recursos limitados y que no tienen acceso a un método de transporte. Estos les proporciona comida a centros dentro de las comunidades. “Por eso existen estas ubicaciones, para asegurarse que las comunidades vulnerables tengan acceso a un centro de distribución de comida dentro de cinco millas de donde viven, estos ofrecen oportunidades de distribución semanalmente o bisemanal”, dijo el Director Ejecutivo de Raymon Cancino en Watsonville.

Downtown Senior Center and partners help community avoid isolation – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2021
Watsonville-based Community Bridges, which partners with the Downtown Senior Center already for the Senior Center Without Limits program, stepped on to the scene in mid-February to offer a hotline designed to reach out to seniors without internet access who could be helped over the phone… Kelly Mercer-Lebov, [senior programs coordinator of the Downtown Senior Center at the Louden Nelson Community Center] said that Community Bridges made around 2,000 appointments for seniors in two months… As of June, low-income seniors 60 and older can participate in the Senior Center Without Limits online program through the distribution of free Amazon fire tablets. Local internet provider Cruzio helped by providing internet to these seniors as a part of its Equal Access Santa Cruz initiative, a cooperative to help families that need affordable internet.

The need to feed struggling communities continues – KION, March 2021
Community Bridges is just one of the locations throughout the county providing food pantry services closer to the people in the community. “We’re probably seeing about 350 to 400 families, we also run a  summer lunch program every year which is when schools close and we provide lunch for those children who are outside of school,” says Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino.

Communities of color still hardest hit by COVID-19 in Monterey Bay Area – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2021
Living and working conditions have put Santa Cruz County Latino community members in higher-risk scenarios for contracting COVID-19… In order to live in the Monterey Bay Area, many “double up,” sharing rooms, smaller homes and apartments, to make ends meet. The Santa Cruz County Latino community predominantly works in essential-service sectors, such as restaurants, child care, agriculture, hospitality… putting them at further risk of infection… “What the COVID era really showed was the conditions that people have to survive in Santa Cruz County make public health [risk] more predominant and more aggressive than in other communities where it’s not as prevalent,” said Community Bridges CEO Ray Cancino.

Santa Cruz County community steps up throughout pandemic – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2021
Santa Cruz community members felt the brunt of the COVID-19 burden, including seniors, and small business owners. Santa Cruz County nonprofit Community Bridges had to tweak how it delivered meals to senior citizens they served, to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With assistance from the city and county of Santa Cruz, as well as the Community Foundation, the organization also bought and distributed 2,000 Amazon Fire tablets to local seniors. “What we understand is there’s a real digital divide, compared to other demographics with seniors,” said Raymon Cancino, CEO with Community Bridges. “Seniors are using these tablets to meet with doctors, go to physical therapy, counseling and to see their families.”

Santa Cruz County Renters Eligible for Relief – KSBW Action News, March 2021
The federal government is giving $16 million to assist low-income renters and landlords in [Santa Cruz County.] The CA COVID Rent Relief gives funding to households who make 50% or less of the median income. If the applicants are approved, landlords could receive 80% of the tenants unpaid rent. “We’re asking folks to be patient as the state rolls this out and understands it’s not a first come first serve. It’s really based on need and eligibility,” [said CEO Raymon Cancino.] You can apply or verify eligibility by visiting HousingisKey.com.

Low-income renters and landlords in Santa Cruz County eligible for pandemic assistance – KION 5/46, March 2021
Santa Cruz County announced that local renters and landlords are eligible for more than $16 million in federal funding to help pay rent and utility bills during the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding is distributed based on need and available to low-income renters and landlords affected by the pandemic… The funds can be used to help with rent, utilities and home energy costs, rent and utility arrears and relating housing costs. Community Bridges, Community Action Board, Families in Transition, California Rural Legal Assistance and United Way 211 have been chosen to help renters and landlords with the application process. To apply or find out if you are eligible, visit the website here or call 1-833-430-2122.

Santa Cruz County receives more than $16 million in federal rent relief funding – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2021
Santa Cruz County is set to receive more than $16 million in funds to assist low-income renters and landlords. The “CA COVID Rent Relief” gives priority to those households who make 50% or less of median income in the Santa Cruz area. Still, those who earn up to 80% of average regional income are eligible to apply. If an application is approved, local landlords could receive 80% of each tenant’s unpaid rental payments accrued from April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021… Community Bridges and Community Action Board as well as organizations such as the Conflict Resolution Center will be available to help renters and landlords through the application process… “[once] we put processes in place to implement this program.”

Transporte y asistencia para personas de la tercera edad para vacunación en el condado de Santa Cruz – Noticias Ya, Febrero de 2021
Las personas mayores de 65 que vivan en los codigos de postal 95076, 95077 y 96019 pueden venir al 114 de la calle East Fifth para hacer su cita de la vacuna contra el Covid o tambien puede llamar al 831-768-3279. Puentes de la Comunidad tambien cuenta con un servicio de transporte para que las personas puedan asisitr a su cita de vacunacion y regresar a sus casas de manera segura y completamete gratis para residentes del condado de Santa Cruz. (831) 688-9663 para reservar su cupo en el autobus.

Local non-profits help seniors navigate online vaccine portals – KSBW Action News 8, February 2021
Community Bridges and the Watsonville Senior Center have been helping seniors navigate through the maze of online forms and telephone calls to set up appointments. “We’ve seen seniors really struggle with their on-line appointment-making system and really having a hard time getting through,” said Ray Cancino, Community Bridges CEO. The Senior helpline was established to assist seniors on how to navigate the signup process… If you live in Santa Cruz County and need assistance with scheduling a Covid vaccine appointment you can contact Community Bridges at 831-219-8607.

County Health Director Urges Prioritization of Older Adults for Vaccines – Good Times, February 2021
The novel coronavirus has heavily impacted Watsonville, which has accounted for more than half of the county’s Covid-19 cases… Organizations such as Community Bridges are trying to reach those communities in several ways, CEO Raymon Cancino says. That includes hosting a multilingual community forum on Covid-19 vaccine safety, effectiveness and distribution on Feb. 23. The free forum will be presented in Spanish with real-time translation in English, Mixteco and Trique. It will be available online or via phone… Community Bridges recently established a helpline of its own— 831-219-8607— in hopes of helping older adults navigate what Cancino called a “fragmented” vaccine distribution system.

Santa Cruz Groups Support Older Adults During Pandemic – Good Times, February 2021
Lois Sones, Director of Elderday Adult Day Health Care, says she has seen a major decline in local older adult’s conditions during the pandemic. “Senior isolation was already a problem before Covid,” Sones said… Last summer [Elderday] launched the Senior Center Without Limits (SCWL), a program offering older adults free virtual classes, workshops and support… Once a participant joins, they can sign in to a multitude of classes, from cooking and tai chi to art workshops and sing-alongs… With the vaccine continuing to roll out in Santa Cruz County, Sones said she sees a “light at the end of the tunnel..” “Our goal is to keep people as engaged as possible, physically and mentally,” she said. “To give them hope.”

New COVID-19 vaccine site coming to Watsonville next week – KSBW Action News 8, February 2021
Watsonville has the highest number of Covid cases in Santa Cruz County and health officials are hoping to mitigate that by providing Covid vaccines. Almost two weeks ago, Santa Cruz County held a drive-thru vaccination clinic at the Fairgrounds serving the county’s most impacted population. This week, Dignity Health Dominican Hospital vaccinated 1,000 farm workers… Ray Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges is also a member of the Pajaro Valley COVID group. “Anything that we can show that is safe; that there’s no ulterior motive. It’s not going to impact, long term; that we continue to show that it’s gone through the same FDA process.” Those who are eligible for vaccination can sign up online or by phone. The county plans to release additional details about the Watsonville site next week.

Cards for isolated seniors: a Kaiser Permanente MLK Day project – Capitola Patch, January 2021
Hundreds of isolated senior citizens in Santa Cruz County will be getting a little extra joy come Valentine’s Day, thanks to more than 50 volunteers who volunteered as part of Kaiser Permanente’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. Volunteers and their children made Valentine’s Day cards for the seniors, which will be included in their Meals on Wheels deliveries during the Valentine’s week… Kaiser Permanente partnered with the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County on the project. “So many seniors are struggling with isolation and the pandemic,” said Trēa Robinson, a Director at the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County. “I can’t think of a better project for Kaiser Permanente to organize on the Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service.”

Radios could help residents stay aware ahead of debris flows – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2021
So far Community Bridges has purchased 275 weather radios, using Community Foundation Santa Cruz funding. More than 130 have been distributed to smaller local organizations, such as the Bonny Doon Church… If debris flow evacuations are ordered, Community Bridges will broadcast public service announcements on KSCO, 1080 AM, that will inform evacuees where open shelters are,” said CEO Ray Cancino. County Public Works Director Matt Machado said, “Everybody should have a radio and be aware because when the power goes out, oftentimes that means you’re internet goes down, but the radio still works… During a storm, having that weather info at your fingertips is pretty important, because the forecast is just the forecast.” Those living in high-risk debris flow areas can request a weather radio on Community Bridges’ website: communitybridges.org/czu-resources.

Name Dropping: Two added to Community Bridges board – Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 2020
Community Bridges announced the appointment of Brenda Griffin and Silvia Morales to its board, according to a press release from the organization. Griffin is the president of the NAACP Santa Cruz County Branch. She has been on the steering committee of the Economic Justice Alliance and on the Santa Cruz Police Chief’s advisory committee to address issues around policies and accountability. Silvia Morales is the executive director of the Resource Center for Nonviolence in Santa Cruz. She has demonstrated expertise in leading nonprofit and civic organizations in Santa Cruz County promoting diversity, advancing equity and advocating for justice, according to the release. Additionally, Nicolette Lee has been appointed as the new board chair effective January 2021. Nicolette has been a member of the Community Bridge Board since 2017 and brings a wealth of expertise in advancing policies that benefit and serve our entire community.

Opinion | Don’t Scrooge This Up – Good Times, December 2020
Reaching out to an older friend, a parent or a grandparent is never more meaningful than during the holiday season. It warms us, them, and bestows all with human connection, that is an essential component of health and happiness. Covid-19 has made keeping in touch with older adults more challenging than ever. It is critical that we find ways to support seniors and ourselves with activities that create human interactions and opportunities during this holiday season. Reach out with a phone or Zoom call, a holiday card, or in other creative ways. You can help fight loneliness and isolation by engaging in some wonderful local programs that connect seniors of all ages during the holidays. If you’re not sure where to start, consider Stay Connected at the Volunteer Center; Community Bridges Senior Center without Limits; or Senior Network Services. Reach out and warm a heart; it might be your own. — Raymon Cancino, CEO Community Bridges; Clay Kempf, Executive Director Seniors Council; Pam Arnsberger, Board Chair Seniors Council

Letter | Isolated seniors need interaction during holidays – Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 2020
For most of us the holidays are moments of celebration, but for many isolated seniors it can be a triggering reminder of their loneliness. In the next couple of weeks, Meals on Wheels, Lift Line drivers, and Elderday staff will continue to visit many seniors’ homes both in person and also digitally through our Senior Center Without Limits program. These interactions provide some of the very few opportunities seniors across our county have for human interaction throughout their day. We urge our community to seek out volunteer opportunities to make a lasting impact through program like ours during this holiday season. This is as a very tangible way to engage with one another, and to help provide a sense of community to those of us that are most isolated. — Raymon Cancino, CEO Community Bridges, Watsonville

Print sale helps out fire relief services – Santa Cruz Sentinel, November 2020
York Framing Gallery has teamed up with retired firefighter and amateur photographer Paul Babb to create an opportunity for you to help our community and get a photo in the process. York has printed Babb’s photo of the “Fire Start” in two forms and is selling them at cost plus an additional $20 donation which [they] will forward to Mountain Community Resources. Babb caught this image during the lightning storm on Aug. 16. The 30-second exposure caught the beginnings of the first fire. For information on prices or to order your copy, call 831-462-0313.

City using more than $320k for emergency housing assistance – The Pajaronian, November 2020
The City [of Watsonville] will use $320,947 for emergency housing assistance, and $160,000 for food distributions—$75,000 will go to the Second Harvest Food Bank and Meals on Wheels will receive $85,000. The rest ($25,313) will be used for administrative fees and planning. Meals on Wheels Director Lisa Berkowitz said the program, which is a part of Community Bridges, has served more than 68,000 meals to 341 senior residences in Watsonville since the pandemic began. Community Bridges CEO Raymond Cancino added that the program has also has started serving breakfast to local seniors, arguably the most vulnerable population during the pandemic. “The seniors depend on us to provide meals,” Berkowitz said.

Outdoor Mural at La Manzana Center Gets New Life, Larger Footprint – Good Times, November 2020
Work began in late October on a major restoration of a long-standing outdoor mural at the La Manzana Community Resources center. Muralist Guillermo “Yermo” Aranda, who is the creative drive behind scores of murals around Santa Cruz County, Salinas and San Diego, said it was time to refresh the paint on the 1993 Mural along 18 West Lake Ave. in Watsonville… The mural is comprised of five panels, each with its own set of meanings: The Sacredness of Mother and Child, The Empowerment and Sacrifices of Women and Mothers, Education and Resiliency , The Spirit and Celebration, and The Lord of Light and the Abundance of the Earth Project Timeline.

Being Grateful for Food – Times Publishing, October 2020
Paul Machlis, pantry manager at Community Bridges Mountain Community Resources in Felton, said, “Agencies like ours (pantries, soup kitchens, etc.) are helpful to their communities on little or no money, as long as we have willing volunteers and some minimal supplies and space… We had a woman who came regularly to our pantry for her family of four… both adults eventually found jobs, the daughter got through a bad stage, they kept the house — and one day she proudly arrived with a donation of $20 for the weekly pantry… They don’t need assistance these days, but when we see her around town, she always takes a moment to say that without Mountain Community Resources, they wouldn’t have made it.”

Community Bridges plans Oct. 20 virtual open house – Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 2020
Community Bridges will host a virtual open house at 2 p.m. Oct. 20 to showcase the newly renovated playground at the Sycamore Street Child Development Center. The community is invited to join Santa Cruz Mayor Justin Cummings, Community Bridges CEO Ray Cancino and the children enrolled at Sycamore Street Development Center for a socially distanced playdate on the new playground. The event will be livestreamed on the Community Bridges Facebook page. Community Bridges was awarded $13,600 in support from the City of Santa Cruz to make necessary renovations to the worn out play structure at the center. Additional funds came through Community Bridges, allowing for the completion of the ADA accessible playground.

Community Bridges supporting fire victims – The Pajaronian, October 2020
Community Bridges is aiming to support the recovery of Santa Cruz mountain residents impacted by the CZU August Lightning Complex. To meet immediate needs for families, Community Bridges is providing direct financial assistance to eligible families. Available due to funding from the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County and donations from the community, they have distributed grocery and Visa gift cards to over 75 households. The agency has also launched a new mobile laundry service that offers free access to washers and dryers to households that have been impacted by losing their home, been displaced or suffered significant smoke damage. The trailer will be located at rotating locations in the Santa Cruz mountains each week.

Mobile trailer provides laundry services for fire evacuees – KION 5/46, September 2020
[Community Bridges] is running a mobile laundry trailer for fire victims, and this week it is in Felton. Soap is provided to people who were evacuated and are still without water. The organization said there are a couple thousand people who are in need of the services, and the idea to run a mobile laundry trailer came from talking to evacuees… “When you have bad smoke damage, it’s terrible. You need to wash your stuff a bunch of times, and it can get expensive doing that at a laundromat. That’s when we came up with the idea,” said Roxanne Moore with Community Bridges.

Santa Cruz Co. Sees More Hunger Amid Pandemic: Find A Food Bank – Patch, September 2020
Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County partner agencies— such as Aptos Pantry, Live Oak Family Resource Center, Familia Center, Pajaro Valley Loaves & Fishes and Salud Para La Gente— also offer food services and others to local residents. Food insecurity is often thought of as a “poor people’s problem,” but not all people living in poverty are food insecure, and not all food insecure people live in poverty. Food insecurity is a complex issue sandwiched in with other systemic challenges, including poverty, low wages, affordable housing shortages, chronic and acute health problems, high medical costs and social isolation.

How to Help People Displaced By Fires – Times Publishing Group, September 2020
“The requests for help we’ve gotten since March have been staggering,” said Roxanne Moore, program director for Community Bridges, including Mountain Community Resources, which serves the hard-hit San Lorenzo Valley. “The cutbacks in hours and layoffs mean people can’t pay the rent, the utility bill, the cell phone bill or even the grocery bill,” she said. “We’ve been able to be there for those families, first for the pandemic, and now in response to the fires. From day one, the support and trust from the Community Foundation has been critical to our ability to get needs met.”

Double Whammy of Covid-19, Fires Strain Social Service Providers – Good Times, August 2020
While Community Bridges has been working with the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County to get some financial help for the recovery effort, residents were already falling behind on their rent due to the pandemic, [Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino said.] “We know that once things open up, the most vulnerable people we’re going to have to address are the people living up in the mountains of San Lorenzo Valley, Felton, Boulder Creek, Ben Lomond,” he said. “It was already a very rural, marginalized part of the county with limited resources, and the community is going to look to us to help them rebuild.”

Community Foundation Aids Farmworkers During Crisis – Good Times, August 2020
The Center for Farmworker Families is one of many organizations that have recently been aided by the Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County’s (CFSCC) Covid-19 Relief Fund. As of Aug. 19, the foundation has awarded a total of $8.1 million in grants, with 100% of the money going directly into the community. Other organizations that have been working with CFSCC to help farmworkers include Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance, Monarch Services, the Community Action Board, Community Bridges, Catholic Charities, Second Harvest Food Bank, Loaves and Fishes, and more.

UndocuFund Monterey Bay has distributed almost $2 million in aid to undocumented people – Monterey County Weekly, August 2020
In a July 29 statement, SCCV Executive Director Maria T. Cadenas states UndocFund—which partners with various local organizations like Catholic Charities, [Community Bridges,] and United Way Santa Cruz County—has aided over 1,300 households. Of those households, 70 percent work in agriculture and 60 percent are families with children… Undocumented residents may have been paying into economic and social safety nets (using an individual taxpayer identification number), but they have not been part of recent federal or state stimulus packages. They also do not qualify for benefits like unemployment.

How has COVID-19 hurt Santa Cruz County’s most vulnerable? – Santa Cruz Local Podcast, July 2020
The risk of contracting the virus also made Bill and Jim stay home. So they turned to the Meals on Wheels program. That’s a food delivery service from the nonprofit Community Bridges. They’re not alone. Meals on Wheels staff says demand has nearly doubled since March. Meals on Wheels is supplied by Second Harvest Food Bank Santa Cruz County. Second Harvest supplies about 100 groups in our county that distribute food. Second Harvest staff told me that the program now serves about 40% of county residents. That’s 100,000 people. That’s nearly twice the number that Second Harvest served before COVID hit.

Evictions rise in first month without moratorium – The Pajaronian, July 2020
Tenant advocates saw a modest increase in eviction notices in June, the month immediately following the Watsonville City Council’s decision to allow its citywide eviction moratorium to expire… Sandra Silva, [the directing attorney of California Rural Legal Assistance’s Watsonville office] said the recent rise in eviction notices is a direct result of the moratorium’s expiration… to evict renters that have been hard-hit by the Covid-19 pandemic and do not understand their rights… Silva said she refers those displaced renters to nonprofits such as Community Bridges, Families In Transition and the Community Action Board (CAB) of Santa Cruz County.

New Online Program Offers Classes, Connections for Older Adults – Good Times, June 2020
[Covid-19] prompted [Elderday] staff to start looking for ways to expand and adapt their usual classes and activities to an online format. Community Bridges Executive Director Raymon Cancino had the idea to coordinate with the city of Watsonville and the city of Santa Cruz’s parks and recreation departments to create a new digital senior center… Santa Cruz County residents are invited to participate in over 15 classes per week on Zoom, a video conferencing application. Classes include yoga, tai chi, art, music, meditation and more. Support groups and computer classes are also available, and [Elderday Program Director Lois Sones] said they are developing ESL and citizenship classes as well. “We’re trying to figure out how to provide people with as much mental, physical and social stimulation as possible,” she said.

Cost of Newsom’s Cuts – Good Times Letters to the Editor, June 2020
“Governor Newsom’s proposed May budget revision sent chills throughout California with the elimination of Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) like Elderday, a program of Community Bridges. He posed a similar fate for Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP) programs, which also help seniors remain in their homes and out of skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and respite care homes. I urge you to reach out to our local representatives in Sacramento and ensure they not only show support for these programs, but that they roll up their sleeves and actively advocate for their existence. These proposed cuts will only serve to increase costs to taxpayers with SNF costing three times more per person than CBAS, and result in displacement of Santa Cruz seniors who cannot find an appropriate care facility in their home county…” –Raymon Cancino | Chief Executive Officer, Community Bridges

Council passes budget as community calls for cuts to police – Pajaronian, June 2020
The Watsonville City Council approved the budget for fiscal year 2020/21 but not before roughly two dozen members of the community urged leaders to reimagine the way they allocate public funds… Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino led that push, citing a 2018 study done by New York University, the Brennan Center For Justice and the New York Times that found that crime rates drop as nonprofits multiply in communities.“The more you invest in social services, the better off you are,” Cancino said. “It’s critically important that people consider that and understand the impacts that we have of past decisions, current decisions and future decisions. And, also, why investing in our youth is important, and why it should be a top priority for our council to continue the trend that we’ve been on, which is reduced crime rates.”

Senior Center Without Limits Program In Santa Cruz – Patch, June 2020
Senior Center Without Limits is a new and innovative program available to all people over age 60 in Santa Cruz County… Seniors can participate in over 15 classes each week, such as yoga, tai chi, art and music. Support groups and computer classes are also available. All residents over the age of 60 living in Santa Cruz County are encouraged to participate in this free program… To join in the classes seniors must have access to internet and an internet enabled device (computer, smartphone or tablet). If seniors do not have a device, they may qualify to receive a free Amazon Fire tablet, while supplies last. To qualify they must be over the age of 60 and a low income resident of the City of Santa Cruz or City of Watsonville. Note that priority is given to people with disabilities.

Local nonprofits brace for budget cuts – The Pajaronian, June 2020
Gov. Gavin Newsom on May 27 released his revision of the California budget, and through it proposed to eliminate funding for Community Based Adult Services (CBAS) no sooner than July 1… This includes the Community Bridges organization’s Elderday Adult Day Health Care program, which supplies Santa Cruz County seniors with everything from at-home nursing care to healthy meals. “Shutting the doors of CBAS affects all generations,” Lois Sones, Elderday Program Director said in a press release. “CBAS serves primarily low-income, Medi-Cal eligible seniors and adults with disabilities. Families of our participants especially need CBAS now so they can return to work to contribute to our workforce and our economy.”

Participants Don’t Want the Governor to Cut Elderday Funds – Noticies Ya, May 2020
Since 1981 Elderday in Santa Cruz has been a relief to elderly families with disabilities to have well-being and a normal life. During the pandemic we continue to provide care now more than ever to prevent them from falling into depression and isolation… These services could be terminated after the Governor of California revised his budget and has plans to eliminate community service centers for adults. This could affect 36,000 elderly in California and about 90 at Elderday. The Governor has until June 15 to review the budget.

Balancing the California Budget on the Backs of At-Risk Seniors – WFMZTV, May 2020
The May Revision of the California Budget proposes to eliminate funding for Community Based Adults Services (CBAS), like Community Bridges’ Elderday program, no sooner than July 1, 2020. CBAS programs provide one of our state’s primary alternatives to skilled nursing facility placement and institutionalization. Elimination of the program will force up to 36,000 seniors into costly nursing homes, which have seen the highest instances of death during the COVID-19 crisis. Closing CBAS programs does not save the State money as the monthly cost of a private nursing home room is at least three times the cost to attend adult day health services… The public is urged to contact their State Senator and Assembly members to express their opposition to the elimination of CBAS programs. Budgets hearings and decisions are happening now so it is important to respond quickly.

Front Porch Project Documents Life in Santa Cruz During Covid-19 – Good Times, May 2020
Amy Isacson, a Santa Cruz-based portrait/wedding/anything photographer, decided to go out early one May Saturday morning and document how her friends and neighbors in Santa Cruz County are weathering the shelter-in-place era. She had with her a master list of two dozen households who had agreed to her idea—to take photos of families on whatever constituted their front porch… As part of the Front Porch Project (which is also raising donations for the local chapter of Meals on Wheels), Isacson asked her subjects to submit their thoughts in writing on domestic living during the pandemic. “I asked everyone to write something not so much about how they’re feeling now, but looking back to that week (in mid-March) when everything shifted.”

Coast Lines | Supervisor for District 2 to host weekly tele-town hall – Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2020
Supervisor Zach Friend will host the next weekly tele-town hall with Community Bridges CEO Ray Cancino and Twin Lakes Church Lead Pastor Rene Schlaepfer from 6-7 p.m. Tuesday. Cancino and Schlaepfer will provide updates on how the non-profit and faith communities are dealing with COVID-19, provide an overview of the services they are providing (and their role in providing essential services) and challenges they see for the coming year. There will be ample time for questions. It’s the same call in number and meeting ID as the previous town halls. The telephone town hall can be accessed at: Call: 831-454-2222, Meeting ID: 145384#.

Rebecca Garcia, Mayor’s Message | Watsonville moves forward to meet needs of seniors – Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2020
One of the main reasons that seniors attend [Watsonville Senior Center] is to get a daily lunch from Meals on Wheels which is always delicious. Several non-profits also provide services to the seniors throughout the week. Project Scout provides tax assistance. Family Services Agency provides peer counseling and referral services. Senior Citizen Legal Services provides legal services. Senior Network Services provides a variety of assistance services such as money management, caregiver support and senior housing…The coronavirus pandemic has closed our Senior Center. Consequently, we continue to connect with and support our seniors. Weekly we call each of our seniors to see how they are doing. One of our seniors said, “The fact that you called us and asked how we are doing showed that you care. When I told you that I couldn’t find distilled water in stores so I can use for my breathing machine you had someone deliver it.”

Nonprofits Step Up to Prevent Hunger in Santa Cruz County – Good Times, April 2020
Programs that deliver food to the most vulnerable, like Meals on Wheels, Second Harvest Food Bank and Grey Bears, have seen an enormous spike in demand in recent weeks. Raymon Cancino, the CEO of Community Bridges… says demand has increased by 40% since the shelter-in-place order… [requiring the program to spend] $20,000 on extra refrigeration. Meals on Wheels delivers free complete daily meals to seniors age 60 and over and people with disabilities. The frozen meals, shipped in from southern California, are “good sound food, prepared well, and with reasonable variety,” [MOW participant] William Avery says. Cancino says the program aims to increase its output to two meals a day to those who need them. And though the program has benefitted from… donations and an increase in support from the state, MOW still needs funding to cover the cost of its increased capacity.

Thousands more eligible for emergency CalFresh (SNAP) benefits – Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2020
Calfresh is the first line of defense for newly unemployed or furloughed employees facing an urgent need to provide food for themselves and their families… Under the recently passed Families First Act, emergency supplemental CalFresh benefits will increase the benefits for many households up to the monthly maximum. Additional emergency coronavirus relief is expected to augment this benefit even further. The Families First Act also established a new program, Pandemic EBT (P-EBT), that provides food assistance benefits for households with children who attend a school that has closed and who would otherwise receive free or reduced-price meals. P-EBT is available regardless of immigration status and households do not have to be enrolled in CalFresh in order to be eligible. P-EBT is not considered in a public charge test. Community Bridges’ Family Resource Centers are open and providing enrollment assistance.

Driscoll’s to Deploy More than $4 Million in Charitable Funds in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic – And Now You Know, April 2020
In addition to helping health care services in California, Driscoll’s has worked diligently to ensure that food banks and pantries have enough money and resources to feed Californian families. $600K in cash donations and $100K in product donations have been released to the following California organizations: Watsonville: Second Harvest, Casa de La Cultura, Pajaro Valley Loaves and Fishes, Salvation Army, and Community Bridges. “While our hope is that our donated resources positively impact communities in which our berries are grown and harvested, it’s going to take a commitment from the entire agriculture industry in order to properly support growers, farmworkers, and their families, and ensure families have access to fresh produce,” said J. Miles Reiter, Chairman and CEO. “We’re pleased that members of the produce industry have been committing resources during this time of need to support local food banks, healthcare providers, and workers across the entire food supply chain.”

Letters to the Editor: Commitment During Crisis – Good Times, April 2020
“Sometimes it takes a crisis for us to appreciate the tremendous service nonprofit workers provide to our community. Right now, across Community Bridges’ 10 programs, hundreds of childcare workers, social workers, Meals on Wheels drivers and kitchen staff, Lift Line drivers, advocates, receptionists, and WIC eligibility workers are still working to deliver and enroll people in essential services. Their commitment ensures our most vulnerable community members are fed, clothed and sheltered during this crisis. I want to thank my coworkers for their courage, their compassion, their dedication to others, and most importantly, for their willingness to offer support when their own lives are impacted. I hope that local government recognizes the contributions that nonprofit providers have made to support the health of our county during this emergency, and responds with real investment in our sustainability so we can continue to be a safety net in times of future crisis.” Ray Cancino | CEO, Community Bridges | Watsonville

Santa Cruz: All Public Schools to Close Thru May 5 – Times Publishing, March 2020
Clay Kempf, executive director of the countywide Seniors Council, said volunteers are definitely needed, suggesting Grey Bears, the Santa Cruz County Volunteer Center, and Meals on Wheels of Santa Cruz County. All meal sites in Santa Cruz County for seniors, including the Live Oak Senior Center, are closed due to the new social distancing rules to slow spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. Kempf said Meals on Wheels, a part of the nonprofit Community Bridges, is working to make sure people wanting a home-delivered meal in lieu of the hot lunch at a center, get one but he noted an increase in loneliness for those who enjoyed the communal sites.

Live Oak Elementary School wins Distinguished School Award – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2020
Live Oak Elementary School has been recognized as a California Distinguished School for its exemplary achievements in education for the second time since 2018. This year, the award was only eligible to California elementary schools that have demonstrated both exceptional student performance and an effort to close the achievement gap for all students… The district has built strong collaborative relationships in Live Oak that are founded on shared community assets and the strengths parents bring to decision-making and improvement processes. Active participation of engaged and empowered parents has resulted in effective and lasting change for their students. Live Oak School District is grateful for their fruitful, enduring partnerships with the East Cliff Health Center, First 5 of Santa Cruz County, the Live Oak Family Resource Center, the County Office of Education, County Supervisor Leopold, Cabrillo College, and many others that help schools deliver access to vital services and resources for families.

‘On the frontlines’: Nonprofits scramble to bring food to vulnerable amid coronavirus crisis – SC Sentinel, March 2020
With residents in Santa Cruz County — and much of the wider region — ordered to shelter in place, many local food programs say their phones have been ringing off the hook as vulnerable people search for help. Nonprofits Grey Bears and Community Bridges’ Meals on Wheels program, both of which deliver food to seniors at home, are each reporting marked increases… Meals on Wheels was forced to close its five in-person dining sites across Santa Cruz County. The program is now making home deliveries of prepared meals to the seniors who relied on those sites, on request. And on Monday and Tuesday alone, Meals on Wheels received about 30 new applications for meal deliveries — as many as it typically receives in a month. “We’re literally on the frontlines,” Community Bridges CEO Ray Cancino said, reflecting on working to meet the rising need in the community while the nonprofit faces uncertainty.

Health Officer: If You Don’t Want to Break the Law, Stay Home – Good Times, March 2020
Before the county announced its shelter-in-place order, Gov. Newsom called for the “home isolation” of all California residents 65 years and older, as well as all Californians with chronic medical conditions. “We are doing so with our eyes wide open at the magnitude of what that means, and the need to provide wraparound services to support our seniors in need of medical supplies, in need of meals and the like,” Newsom said at his press conference on Sunday. All Santa Cruz County seniors over age 65 are eligible to receive home-delivered meals through Meals on Wheels, regardless of income level. A suggested donation of $2.50 per meal is requested, but no senior will be denied if they can’t pay. Those looking to receive home meal deliveries can download an application at communitybridges.org/mealsonwheels and email completed applications to mowinfo@cbridges.org.

Many closed schools still serving meals – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2020
Schools across Santa Cruz County were shuttered Monday, the first day of what will be — at least — a week without class to mitigate the further spread of the new coronavirus. But food is still being served at numerous school sites for the many students who rely on their schools for breakfast and lunch… “Schools play an essential part in food security for our families,” said Edgar Landeros, program manager at Nueva Vista Community Resources… “With our working families trying to make ends meet all the time, and now the possibility of some furloughs or being laid off, it’s going to be very important that the schools continue to partner up and continue to offer those meals to the children that typically would receive a meal during the school year,” Landeros added.

Guest Commentary | A healthy response to COVID-19 – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2020
After speaking with our public health experts, here are some guidelines that will help save lives, preserve public health and assist our community [with responding to the coronavirus, COVID-19]: Follow the guidelines set forth and updated daily at www.santacruzhealth.org/coronavirus. Guidelines for a variety of situations, including workplaces, large gatherings, skilled nursing facilities and more, are available.  Right now, it is vital that people shelter in place until April 7th to avoid spread… These recommendations mean that our senior and vulnerable populations will be increasingly isolated.  If you know seniors, check in on them. Offer food, supplies and friendship. If you can help, Meals on Wheels needs funding and volunteers to bring food to vulnerable seniors. Volunteer at https://communitybridges.org/mealsonwheels/ or 831-464-3180.

Santa Cruz seniors to see changes in services for their protection – KSBW, March 2020
Community Bridges is taking ‘aggressive’ steps to protect [elderly and people with underlying health conditions most vulnerable for COVID-19] while continuing to provide services. Senior clients at the Watsonville Senior Center will see changes to its food servicing policy and activity schedules… “The people that we’re serving are the highest at risk in our community and so we’re taking extra precautions,” said Raymon Cancino Chief Executive Officer Community Bridges… “We’re going to stop serving people at a table and asking them to take it home, so here is no congregate dining even with social distancing” said Cancino… “As of Monday, we’ll keep 25 of the most medically frail participants [at the Elderday site.] The others will be self-quarantined at home. We have mobilized [a mobile nursing unit] in the last few days that will go out and check on these patients,” said Amy Hanley, Marketing and Communications Manager.

Coast Line | Events changed amid coronavirus concerns – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2020
The following events have been [postponed] in light of coronavirus concerns: • Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County Rotary and Community Champions weeks that were scheduled for March 16-20 and March 23-27 has been postponed. Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County will notify the community when new dates have been determined for these community service weeks. For information, visit communitybridges.org. • Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County Food from the Heart luncheon scheduled for April 3 has been postponed. The luncheon has been rescheduled to this summer. Anyone that has already purchased tickets to the event, can elect to keep their reservation or receive a refund by emailing info@cbridges.org.

Nonprofit Leaders Push for Workers’ Wage Equity – Good Times, March 2020
“Nonprofits are trying to balance that situation where we don’t want to cut services, and at the same time employees are hurting,” says Raymon Cancino, CEO of the nonprofit group Community Bridges. The nonprofit sector has banded together to ask the county government and other funders for a minimum 5% boost annually in their baseline funding for the next three years to help promote wage equity. They’re also asking that local government contracts include annual cost of living increases, a move that other local governments like San Francisco have already made… [Other] options include a possible social service bond measure or an ongoing request of local governments to allocate 1% of their general fund to providing social services, Cancino says.

Focus Ag Announces New Class – Good Times, March 2020
Focus Agriculture has announced the 21 community leaders selected for Class 31 to learn about agriculture in Santa Cruz County and the Pajaro Valley. The class includes: Raymon Cancino, Chief Executive Officer Community Bridges and Stephanie Connor Kent, Chief Nurse Executive, Sutter Maternity & Surgery Center/Sutter Health [and Community Bridges board member]…] Speakers ranging from farmers to elected officials to representatives from environmental groups will address the class. The sessions will cover such topics as ethnic groups in agriculture, new technology and diversity of commodities locally grown. In announcing the participants, Agri-Culture President Steve Bontadelli, said, “Community leaders will find this program beneficial and, in turn, growers who present information to the class will learn the public’s current perspective of local agriculture.”

County prepares for 2020 Census – Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 2020
Local organizations and agencies are partnering with the U.S. Census Bureau in preparing for the 2020 Census… To reach hard-to-count populations, the Bureau is working with Dientes Community Dental Care, Community Bridges, Salud Para La Gente, Grey Bears and Encompass Community Services. Hard-to-count populations include households with blended families or multi-generations, people who do not live in traditional housing, do not speak English fluently or have limited English proficiency, high density housing, undocumented or recent immigrants, renters and young children and babies. To account for the homeless population, the Bureau has partnered with the Association of Safe Communities, the Homeless Action Partnership and the Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County.

Community Bridges WIC going digital with app, new card – KION, February 2020
Starting Tuesday, [WIC] participants will be able to access their benefits through a card similar to a debit card and an app that can be used to check food balances and appointments, find stores and find qualifying food. Clients will start getting their cards at their next appointment, and all current clients are expected to have them by May 15. Those with paper coupons for Feb. 14 through May 14 can still use them until their next appointment. Pregnant, postpartum or breastfeeding women and children under 5 years old qualify for WIC benefits if they have incomes at 185% or less of the poverty level and/or receive Medi-Cal, CalFresh or cash aid qualify for WIC benefits.

Near Silicon Valley, Human Service Nonprofits Fail to Pay Living Wages – Nonprofit Quarterly, February 2020
human resources survey conducted by Community Bridges, in partnership with the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County and the Human Care Alliance of Santa Cruz County (HCA), gives us reason to revisit how nonprofit personnel are faring in a growing economy with historically low unemployment… Even in a tight job market, almost 40 percent of the employees surveyed earn less than California’s minimum wage of $15/hour, slated to take effect next year, an hourly rate often considered as the threshold minimum of a livable wage… “More than a third of nonprofits surveyed,” according to Courtney Teague of Patch, “said they planned to change or reduce staffing to meet new wage requirements, and nearly a quarter said they planned to reduce services.”

Santa Cruz community to meet on gun violence – KSBW Monterey, February 2020
Edgar Landeros with Nueva Vista Community Resources is co-hosting next Tuesday night’s community meeting. “I think that it’s a great thing that we’re hosting this community meeting to bring both the Latino Community and the chief of police and that way we can create a safer community as well as a voice in this new license plate technology,” said Landeros. The community meeting is being held Tuesday evening beginning at 6 p.m. at the Nueva Vista Community Center/Beach Flats location at Liebrandt Ave.

Caroline’s Makes a Difference – Aptos Times, February 2020
Staff at Community Bridges were thrilled to receive a $20,000 award [from Caroline’s Nonprofit Thrift Shop] to support Renacer, the only Spanish-speaking support group for families of children with disabilities in Santa Cruz County. The group, at La Manzana Community Resources, offers workshops, resources, and peer support to parents with special needs children… The award will allow the program to continue to offer free child care and invest in new ADA-compliant books and toys for a more inclusive environment… “We are so grateful to Caroline’s for their generous award,” said Ray Cancino, Community Bridges’ CEO.

Dominican Hospital Awards Grants – Aptos Times, February 2020
Community Bridges [was awarded] $25,000 for the Wellness Navigation project, which will increase patient access to healthy food, nutrition education and other services, and will improve clients’ understanding of how to stay healthy. The Wellness Navigation Project will offer mobile health screenings, a lifestyle class, care transition referrals and food pantry distribution… [An additional] $25,000 for a collaboration among United Way of Santa Cruz County, Community Bridges, and Pajaro Valley Prevention and Student Assistance to provide support services for youth and families to promote health and wellness, college and career readiness, financial stability and community connection. The goal is to increase access to mental health services, workforce development and academic support.

Nonprofit workers struggle to make ends meet – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2020
The 2019 Human Care Alliance Nonprofit Wage and Benefit survey report shows that 62% of nonprofit employees cannot survive working one job… “Government’s inaction to address the growing poverty problem in Santa Cruz County is only contributing to the growing statistics,” Raymon Cancino, CEO of nonprofit Community Bridges said in the release. “As a sector of nonprofits trying to alleviate these conditions, we have limited ways to manage this growing crisis and, at times, are powerless due to the limited resources we have at our disposal to make meaningful impact.”

62% of Nonprofit Workers Need to Work More Than One Job to Survive – PR Newswire, January 2020
The escalating costs of housing and persistent low wages heavily influence nonprofit workers and result in implications distinctive to this sector. According to the survey, 62% of nonprofit workers report that they must have more than one job to support their families… “Government’s inaction to address the growing poverty problem in Santa Cruz County is only contributing to the growing statistics,” says Community Bridges’ Chief Executive Officer Raymon Cancino. “As nonprofits, we have limited ways to manage this growing crisis without expansion of funding.”

60% Of Nonprofit Workers In Santa Cruz County Need 2 Jobs – Santa Cruz Patch, January 2020
More than 220 employees and 30 nonprofit leaders took the survey, which was conducted by Human Care Alliance, a coalition of health and human services nonprofits in Santa Cruz County. Housing and low wages made it difficult for employees to live on a single job’s salary, the survey found… Raymon Cancino, chief executive officer of Watsonville-based nonprofit Community Bridges, said in the press release that government officials failed to address the county’s poverty problem. As nonprofits, we have limited ways to manage this growing crisis without expansion of funding,” he said.

Community leaders push for Census 2020 participation – Aptos Life, January 2020
According to Raymon Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges, Watsonville was grossly undercounted in the 2010 census… “If your community is undercounted, you’re getting less money for services…” When that happens, support for health insurance, hospitals, childcare, food assistance, schools, special education and early childhood development programs are impacted… Community Bridges’ resource centers will offer kiosks where people can log into an iPad and do it from there. “Our goal is to make the process as easy as possible,” Cancino said. “You are all working, contributing to this community. You count.”Patch

Growing old in a high cost of living community is recipe for homelessness – Santa Cruz Sentinel, December 2019
Across the nation, senior homelessness (defined as those ages 62 or older) has increased by 62% from 2007 to 2016. The common misconception when people think of homelessness is that co-occurring symptoms, such as substance abuse and mental health issues, are the sole cause of the growing senior homeless population and are deeply entangled with our perceptions of homelessness.

Showers, Shelters and A New Divide Over Santa Cruz Homelessness – Good Times, November 2019
Lisa Berkowitz has seen the shift [of a 64% increase in long-term homelessness] play out first hand at the downtown Santa Cruz site of the Meals on Wheels program that her organization Community Bridges runs for local seniors age 60 and older. A majority of those she sees are now homeless—about 51% of the more than 250 seniors the program served last year at its Louden Nelson Community Center site. “As hard as it is to be a person who is unhoused and having to look for shelter and food, it becomes that much more difficult and complicated for folks as they age,” Berkowitz says. “Anecdotally, what we hear from folks is in some instances, it’s a breakup of a relationship. There are a lot of folks who are Vietnam vets.”

Gratitude through Giving – Times Publishing, November 2019
“During this season of giving, I often get asked the following questions by donors, friends and family: ‘How can I ensure my donation matters, is used for the most good or ensure it will make a difference?’ Being on both sides of the fence, as a donor and as a nonprofit administrator, I understand these concerns and questions. [This article discusses] a few things you should consider before donating,” writes Ray Cancino, Community Bridges CEO. “In this upcoming season of giving, my recommendation is to go beyond name recognition and invest the time to really understand how your hard-earned dollar will be used. Taking these steps will help you make an informed decision and ensure that your money truly makes an impact.”

Community Bridges purchases property to house Lift Line fleet – Register Pajaronian, August 2019
WATSONVILLE — Community Bridges, one of the largest nonprofit agencies in Santa Cruz County, has purchased property on Ohlone Parkway in Watsonville to serve as the hub for its Lift Line fleet. Previously Lift Line was renting property on Ford Street in Watsonville, but the new property will provide a permanent location for Lift Line’s fleet of 17 vehicles. “Our purchase of the Ohlone Parkway property is exciting for both Community Bridges and the City of Watsonville,” Ray Cancino, Community Bridges CEO, said. Community Bridges’ plans for the property include installing publicly available charging stations for EVs and building a solar canopy to power both the building and its vehicles. Lift Line plans to move in October 2019 after $300,000 of renovations have been completed.

County employees follow new Lactation Accommodation Policy – Santa Cruz Sentinel, August 2019
SANTA CRUZ — With a new Lactation Accommodation Policy in place, female county employees have the support of their Santa Cruz County Supervisors and coworkers in providing the best nutrition for babies and in continuing to work as new moms. While there are lactation laws in place, “having a policy legitimizes the organization’s commitment to its workforce and ensures that all employees are informed of the organization’s support of lactating employees,” said Dana Wagner, chair of the Santa Cruz County Breastfeeding Coalition. The 13th annual Breastfeeding Health Fair and Walk is from 3-6 p.m. Aug. 23 at the Watsonville Plaza. The event will be hosted by Community Bridges’ Women Infants & Children Nutrition Program. It will include family activities, a DJ, community resource booths, healthy snacks, free T-shirts, raffles and more.

Promoting a Healthier Watsonville – Times Publishing, August 2019
WATSONVILLE — The 13th Annual Breastfeeding Health Fair and Walk takes place Friday, Aug. 23 from 3–6 p.m. in the Watsonville Plaza. This event supports the City of Watsonville’s resolution that proclaims August as Breastfeeding Awareness Month. Breastfeeding is one of the best preventative health measures and provides short and long term health benefits for both mothers and babies. Hosted by the Community Bridges Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Nutrition Program. WIC builds support for breastfeeding in our community, and establishes breastfeeding as normal and preferred.

Locals Flood to Fourth Annual Farm to Fork Gala – Times Publishing, August 2019
LA SELVA BEACH — The fourth annual Farm to Fork Gala, benefiting human services nonprofit Community Bridges, was held on August 3 at the La Selva Beach Clubhouse. Ray Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges, explained the impact that these funds will have on the people served by Community Bridges programs. “Donations from our generous crowd of friends will make it possible for us to install a new roof at the Fairgrounds Child Development Center, refresh the paint and repair the carpet at Elderday Adult Day Health Care, strengthen the counseling program, and add additional hours for drop-in crises services, at our four family resource centers.”

‘These are our kids’ – Register Pajaronian, July 2019
WATSONVILLE — More than 500 people gathered at Watsonville’s City Plaza for Friday’s Lights for Liberty vigil, a worldwide event planned across five continents hoping to raise awareness of conditions in the immigration detention facilities at the U.S.-Mexico border.

Community Bridges named Nonprofit of the Year – Register Pajaronian, June 2019
Assemblymember Robert Rivas has named Community Bridges the 2019 Nonprofit of the Year for the 30th Assembly District. The organization was honored for its public service at the 2019 California Nonprofits Day Luncheon on June 5 at the South Lawn of the California State Capitol.

Free Lunch for Kids – Aptos Times, June 2019
La Manzana Community Resources, one of Community Bridges’ Family Resource Centers, is sponsoring a free summer lunch program that enables kids to receive healthy lunches over the summer. Join us to ensure no child goes hungry by letting all children and their families know about this program. During summer vacation, many food-insecure children lose access to free or reduced priced meals, but this valuable program provides no cost and convenient access to meals for kids in need. Click the link in the title for participating sites.

Live Oak Field of Dreams – Aptos Times, June 2019
Three years ago, Live Oak community member, Bill Simpkins, had a vision for creating a soccer field and running path that could be a gathering place for the whole community. This dream is now becoming a reality with the long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony, which took place at Shoreline Middle School on Monday, May 20th. The multimillion-dollar, multi-year project includes the installation of an artificial turf field, a perimeter running path, lighting, and picnic tables, which together with the Simpkins Swim Center, creates a community sports complex in the heart of Live Oak.

Council OK’s service grants amidst community scrutiny – Register Pajaronian, June 2019
Tuesday’s Watsonville City Council meeting started with a contentious pushback from the public, as the council presented the Social & Community Service Grants Subcommittee’s funding recommendations for the 2019-21 fiscal years. Several community members associated with nonprofits who had their funding slashed — or zeroed in some cases — voiced their displeasure with how the subcommittee distributed the available $200,000, which come from the City’s general fund.

Can Santa Cruz Hold Onto Nonprofit Workers? – Good Times, May 2019
The Human Care Alliance, a collaborative of more than 27 Santa Cruz County nonprofits, is aiming to better understand the living conditions of nonprofit workers like Van Nuys through a new survey. Nonprofit leaders hope the results from the survey, which is currently underway, can serve as a springboard for discussions with county officials about two realities they face: Their budgets are already strapped as they try to pay workers enough to survive with the high cost of living locally, and big budget gaps loom with the state’s minimum wage set to continue increasing until it reaches $15 an hour in 2023. Now, nonprofit directors are wondering whether they’ll be able to find enough additional funding to close the gap, or if they’ll have to cut back on some of the services they provide on behalf of the county.

Lift Line acquires two electric vehicles – Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2019
Community Bridges Lift Line Paratransit Dial-A-Ride Program is replacing two gas-powered shuttles with two electric vehicle shuttles. Friday’s launch of the electric vehicles and a ribbon cutting ceremony was held at the Lift Line fleet facility in Watsonville. Santa Cruz County Supervisor Zach Friend, Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino, Veronica Eady from the California Air Resources Board and other local leaders attended the event.“Transitioning to EVs allows Community Bridges to continue our efforts to be good stewards of both the environment and the agency’s finances,” said Raymon Cancino, Community Bridges CEO in a press release. “This program is investing in the long-term health of Santa Cruz County, and we are proud to provide opportunities to empower our community.”

Community Bridges Lift Line Reaches Milestone – Register-Pajaronian, April 2019
Representatives from agencies and organizations across Santa Cruz County and as far away as Sacramento gathered Friday at Lift Line’s fleet facility in Watsonville for a special unveiling. Two new electric vehicle (EV) shuttles and two new public charging stations were introduced for the Lift Line Paratransit Dial-A-Ride Program, which is operated by local non-profit organization Community Bridges.

Business Digest: Lift Line receives $242,000 for electric transit – Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2019
RTC gives $242,000 to Life Line.Community Bridges program Lift Line received $242,000 from the Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission to purchase an electric vehicle for transit use and two charging stations. Funding was provided through the California Climate Investments Low Carbon Transit Operations Program and is Lift Line’s third electric vehicle.

List of unmet transit needs goes to Regional Transportation Commission – Santa Cruz Sentinel, April 2019
Grace Blakeslee, transportation planner with the Regional Transportation Commission, said the [unmet needs] list is a tool to inform the community and decision makers about the paratransit and transit needs of seniors and people living with disabilities, and also serves as a reference to identify projects for grant funding…. [The] addressed needs include continuous funding for same-day paratransit medical rides, paratransit rides to destinations outside of the county by Community Bridges Lift Line, increased outreach to eligible riders, and continued Santa Cruz METRO transit services.

Emerald Bay Apartments shows us all how to be leaders – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2019
Besides being a top resource in the Live Oak area, [Live Oak Community Resources] has a proven tutoring model and successful one-on-one tutoring program at their home site which made them a natural partner for this project… [Additionally] The Homework Club program takes place every Thursday in the Emerald Bay Apartments Community Room and is supervised by staff from LOCR and Monarch Services along with support from a number of high school volunteers.

Homelessness concerns rising in San Lorenzo Valley – Santa Cruz Sentinel, February 2019
The unincorporated San Lorenzo Valley region of the county, including Felton, Ben Lomond and Boulder Creek, typically has offered few resources for those in need of a free meal, place to sleep and shower or to connect with service providers. Nonprofit and faith community organizers such as Mountain Community Resources’ food pantry and Felton Presbyterian Church’s shower-food outreach program fill in some gaps, however.

Grant will allow expanded immigrant services – Register-Pajaronian, February 2019
The Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County has been awarded a $731,000 grant that will allow the organization to expand its services to immigrant communities in Santa Cruz, Monterey and San Benito counties. The free services include assisting applicants who are seeking Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and helping immigrants seeking naturalization and other assistance.

Community Bridges receives grant from the California Air Resources Board – Register-Pajaronian, January 2019
[Community Bridges] received a $270,000 Community Air Grant from the California Air Resources Board. That money, coupled with Measure D funds, has been used to purchase two new electric buses for Lift Line, which provides rides for seniors and people with disabilities.

Commentary: Housing crisis breeds opportunity – Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 2018
By forcing deep problems into the light of day, crises can focus our attention on their origins and impacts, and inspire us to work collectively to build transformative solutions…[No Place Like Home] was initiated by our community partners: the area’s largest non-profit service providers — Community Bridges, the Community Action Board, and California Rural Legal Assistance — as well as SEIU Local 521, whose members work for and serve the city and county. Collectively we designed a research project to understand how the crisis affects the community, particularly the most vulnerable and undercounted: low- and moderate-income renters.

“Public charge”: Nonprofits leaders, officials respond to proposal – Santa Cruz Sentinel, October 2018
It could soon become harder for immigrants who use services such as food stamps or Medicaid to become permanent residents under new rules proposed Wednesday by the Trump administration…“We’ve already experienced people saying will this impact us, and we want to [be] very clear to our community that it will not at this time,” said Ray Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges, at a news conference Thursday at the nonprofit’s Watsonville headquarters.

Video: La Costa central reacciona sobre la regla de la carga pública – Entravision, October 2018
Líderes de la costa central reaccionan sobre la regla de la carga pública. La organización Puentes de la Comunidad dice que no se van a ver afectados con la  regulación.

Service providers, elected leaders decry changes, urge public to comment  – Register-Pajaronian, October 2018
A group of service providers and elected officials gathered in Community Bridges’ new Watsonville location Thursday to discuss a proposal from the Trump administration that could drastically change rules for immigrants applying for residency…For now, Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino stressed that immigrants should not give up the assistance programs on which they rely. “Community Bridges programs are not impacted,” he said. “We want them to know that this is still a safe space.”

Housing crisis impacting city and county employees, survey reveals – UCSC Press Release, October 2018
Those who work for and serve the city and county of Santa Cruz are being impacted by the housing crisis, according to UC Santa Cruz researchers who surveyed nearly 500 people in the latest installment of an ongoing community-based effort to document how people are coping with rising costs and limited availability. In this installment, McKay and Greenberg collaborated with Service Employee International Union Local 521, whose members include city and county employees, as well as employees of two of the county’s largest nonprofits: Community Bridges and Salud Para la Gente.

What we do or fail to do: a message from our CEO, Raymon Cancino – September 2018
Community Bridges, the largest human services agency in Santa Cruz County, is stating “enough.” We will continue to protect families and individuals impacted by the proposed policy change, and we will advocate for all people who would be disenfranchised by it.

Qué hacemos o no hacemos: un mensaje de nuestro CEO, Raymon Cancino
Community Bridges | Puentes de La Comunidad, la agencia de servicios humanos más grande en el condado de Santa Cruz expresamos, basta. Seguimos protegiendo a las familias y las personas afectadas por el cambio de la propuesto, y defenderemos a todas las personas que quedarán afectados.

Community Bridges moves into new headquarters – Register-Pajaronian, September 2018
Community Bridges has settled into its new offices in downtown Watsonville, bringing its headquarters closer to the majority of people it serves. Established in 1977, the organization runs 10 programs, such as family resource centers, nutrition programs and programs for seniors including Elderday and Meals on Wheels. It serves about 22,000 people annually, according to Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino.

SCCRTC Measure D Update – Times Publishing Group, August 2018
It is construction season and the cities of Capitola, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, and Watsonville, the County of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz METRO, Community Bridges, and the RTC are putting Measure D funds to work – filling potholes, building new bicycle and walking paths, replacing outdated buses, increasing transportation service for seniors and people with disabilities, and designing major infrastructure projects.

Breastfeeding education – Register-Pajaronian, August 2018
Azucena Paniagua helps the public learn about breastfeeding pumps Friday in Watsonville Plaza during the 12th Annual Breastfeeding Health Fair and Walk. This event included family activities, a live DJ, community resource booths, healthy snacks, free T-shirts, raffles and more.

Breastfeeding walk, fair returns – Register-Pajaronian, August 2018
The 12th annual Breastfeeding Health Fair and Walk will return Aug. 10 from 3-6 p.m. at the Watsonville Plaza. Hosted by the Community Bridges Women, Infants & Children (WIC) Nutrition Program, the event includes family activities, a live DJ, community resource booths, healthy snacks, free T-shirts, raffles and more.

Dinner benefits Community Bridges – Register-Pajaronian, July 2018
The third annual Farm to Fork Dinner, benefiting human services nonprofit Community Bridges, will be held Aug. 4 from 5:30-9 p.m. at Aptos Village Park. The public is invited to enjoy a locally sourced gourmet dinner prepared by the Teen Kitchen Project, local wines, Discretion Brewing beer, a live band, a live auction and an address by Tom Broz, owner of Live Earth Farm and president of the Santa Cruz County Farm Bureau Board of Directors.

A time to eat, and play – Register-Pajaronian, June 2018
During the school year, free lunches provided to low-income children are frequently the only meals they get…thanks to a program run by La Manzana Community Resources, those kids can still get their lunch, and outdoor activities to go along with it. The organization offers free hot meals at 10 sites in Watsonville and two in North County. In past years, program officials say they served as many as 14,000 meals to children at 10 South County sites and two in North County. Any child under 18 can show up for a meal.

Santa Cruz looks to long-term liability with $8M public pension payoff – Santa Cruz Sentinel, June 2018
Seeking to fend off millions in interest payments in coming years, Santa Cruz city leaders will look this month to prepaying an extra $8 million of the city’s public pension obligations. The strategy is part of a multipronged approach to keep the city away from the fiscal brink, as the city faces decreasing traditional revenue sources, higher employee and service costs and ballooning deferred infrastructure replacement needs. One such financial strategy recently yielded positive results, as city voters appeared to favor increasing city sales taxes to 9.25 percent in the June 5 primaries, according to preliminary election results.

Coast Line: Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino honored – Santa Cruz Sentinel, May 2018
Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino has been awarded San Francisco State University’s Alumni of the Year honor. Cancino was presented with the award Friday at a graduation ceremony for the university’s school of public affairs and civic engagement…“I am so fortunate to have the opportunity to serve in a noble effort to improve the conditions of the world around me, and to have a platform to create social justice and equity in the community we call home,” said Cancino.

Community Bridges CEO named SF State Alumni of the Year – Register-Pajaronian, May 2018
Raymon Cancino, chief executive officer of Community Bridges, has been named Alumni of the Year of San Francisco State University’s (SFSU) School of Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE)…According to PACE program faculty, Cancino “embodies the passion, skill and leadership we hope defines the work and careers of all our students.”

South County housing crisis to be discussed May 2 – UC Santa Cruz Newscenter, April 2018
The regional housing crisis is causing extreme hardship for renters in Watsonville and South County, with a recent survey by UC Santa Cruz indicating more than one-third are spending half their income on rent. “We talked with over 500 renters in Watsonville and Freedom, and two-thirds are spending more than 30 percent of their household income on rent and utilities,” said UC Santa Cruz Sociology Professor [and Community Bridges Board member] Steve McKay. “On top of that, overcrowding is a real problem.” [The study, “No Place Like Home: The Santa Cruz County Affordable Housing Crisis Report,” was produced in collaboration with Community Bridges.]

Group floats affordable housing measure – Register-Pajaronian, April 2018
A newly-formed group hopes to convince the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors to place a bond measure on the November 2018 ballot that would fund affordable housing projects. The group — Affordable Housing Santa Cruz County — held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the $250 million bond…“The housing crisis affects us all,” [Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino] said. “We can’t keep going down the same path we’ve been on.”

Elected officials, community leaders help deliver meals – Register-Pajaronian, March 2018
Community Champions Week is part of a nationwide campaign that aims to increase awareness and encourage support for senior nutrition needs and services…The services are more than a way to feed hungry seniors, Meals on Wheels Program Director Lisa Berkowitz said. For many, the delivery can be the only social interaction they get. “We want to make the public aware of the issues regarding senior hunger, and the fact that we have a rapidly aging senior population,” Berkowitz said. “And it’s very difficult to meet the needs of this population with the funding we have.”

Santa Cruz community center challenging city grant funding scheme – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2018
As the Santa Cruz City Council looks Tuesday to distribute its federal community grant funding for the coming year, one local nonprofit is pushing back against the proposed spending plan. Nueva Vista Community Resources, which operates the Beach Flats Community Center, is Santa Cruz’s primary social service provider for the city’s Latino community. The program serves more than 1,500 people annually in the Beach Flats and Lower Ocean neighborhoods.

Kara Meyberg Guzman, Editor’s Notebook: The Sentinel’s new editorial board – Santa Cruz Sentinel, March 2018
As election season is officially underway, I am proud to announce the Sentinel’s new editorial board. Along with Sentinel Opinion Editor Don Miller and Features Editor Anthony L. Solis, our board will consist of five community members…Raymon Cancino: CEO of Community Bridges and an Aptos resident…The board will begin researching and meeting with candidates in late March, and you’ll start seeing our editorials with our endorsements for the major local races by early April.

Locally known acupuncturist starts free health clinic in Felton – Press Banner, March 2018
The partnership between local herbalist and acupuncturist Michael Tierra and Roxanne Moore, program manager for Mountain Community Resources happened, you could say, naturally. “We were looking for new creative things that might be helpful and fill a need here,” Moore said. Last weekend, Tierra and his wife Lesley, hosted the first “Free East West Natural Health Clinic” at MCR in Felton. The pair, along with other volunteer specialists, provided services including acupuncture, cupping and providing herbal supplements—all free—to any adult or children that attended.

Letter to the Editor, Feb. 27: Attacks on Community Bridges unwarranted – Register-Pajaronian, February 2018
Community Bridges and Service Employees International Union, Local 521 have been in negotiations for many months, trying to reach an amicable collective bargaining agreement addressing salary increases and other items. These are difficult negotiations because of the funding challenges that nonprofit community organizations are facing during these difficult economic times and the rising cost of living in this area.

Coast Line: Parent seminar scheduled for Jan. 29 – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2018
Triple P presents “The Power of Positive Parenting” from 6-7:30 p.m. Monday at Bay View Elementary, Library, 1231 Bay St. In this free seminar, Sandra Rodelo of Community Bridges La Manzana Community Resources will cover how to provide positive learning environments for children, use assertive discipline, have realistic expectations and take care of yourself.

Coast Line: Preschooler discipline class starts Jan. 30 – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2018
“Positive Discipline for Parents of Preschoolers,” an eight-week parenting class series starts Jan. 30. The class will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Feb. 20 at Live Oak Community Resources, 1740 17th Ave. Trainer Colleen Murphy will help parents of preschoolers learn new ways to understand their children’s behavior, how to set limits with kindness and firmness, and ways to encourage their children to cooperate and become more capable. Cost is $80 per person and scholarships are available.

Coast Line: Volunteer center hosts MLK day events in Santa Cruz – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2018
The Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County is recruiting volunteers for a series of events on Monday, Martin Luther King, Jr. day. From noon to 3 p.m. at the Santa Cruz Bible Church, 440 Frederick St., volunteers will make greeting cards for Meals on Wheels participants. Contact: 831-476-7284 ext. 108 or claree@cbridges.org.

Quick Bites: Annual Meals on Wheels lunch around the corner – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2018
The fifth annual Food from the Heart luncheon, benefiting Meals on Wheels for Santa Cruz County, is Friday, Feb. 9, at the Chaminade Resort & Spa (One Chaminade Lane). The Valentine’s Day-themed event is from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. There will be a “tasting room” by local vendors, catered lunch, live music, a live auction featuring date-night packages and a Sweetheart Award presentation. Tickets are $60 per person or $550 for a table of 10. See FFH18.Eventbrite.com for details and tickets.

Santa Cruz’s most vulnerable may bear brunt of environmental disasters, study finds – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2018
The city’s most vulnerable communities may bear the brunt of disasters caused by climate change, a new analysis says…. “This [the Beach Flats community] is the last enclave of affordability for low-income individuals in Santa Cruz,” said Raymond Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges, a nonprofit that operates a community center in the neighborhood. “Research has shown that these folks are less likely to access FEMA money and are likely to have less money in their bank accounts to recover from these kinds of events.”

Coast Line: Parent workshop on disobedience set for Jan. 18 in Ben Lomond – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2018
Triple P presents a free parenting workshop, “How to Handle Disobedience,” 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday Highlands Park Child Development Center, 8500 Highway 9. Cori Burt of Community Bridges – Mountain Community Resources will cover: Common reasons why children refuse to cooperate or follow instructions; how to prevent disobedience and increase cooperation; and how to respond calmly and consistently.

Under threat of deportation, immigrant parents helped to designate caretakers
 – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2018
Growing stress and uncertainty in the immigrant community drove a group of attorneys, nonprofits and volunteers to offer free guidance to designate caretakers of children whose parents face deportation…The coalition is comprised of Proyecto Plan Familiar, Monarch Services, Community Bridges, Sanctuary Santa Cruz and Community Action Board of Santa Cruz County.

Santa Cruz’ annual MLK Youth Day serves as a reminder – Santa Cruz Sentinel, January 2018
Beyond play and celebration, their parents said they hoped the kids would walk away from the sixth annual Martin Luther King Youth Day educated, empowered and more aware of the community’s social activism…Participating organizations included: Senderos, the Diversity Center, Walnut Avenue Women’s and Family Center, Community Bridges, Cabrillo Black Student Union, the UN Association and more.

Wage Equity Survey

Community Bridges partners with the Volunteer Center of Santa Cruz County and the Human Care Alliance of Santa Cruz County (HCA) to study the prevalence and impact of low wages in the local nonprofit social service sector. HCA conducted its first wage equity survey an 2016 and a second in 2019, and both studies identified pervasive wage inequity and alarming impact on nonprofit staff and their organizations. Community Bridges is committed to advancing a community-based campaign to build a more just and equitable community that ensures that working in public service does not equate to a life of poverty.

Survey results and additional information on the wage equity campaign are linked below.
Nonprofit Wage Equity Campaign Overview
Nonprofit Wage Equity Brief
2019 Nonprofit Wage and Benefit Survey Results

December is National Giving Month! Americans give twice as much in charitable donations in December than any other month! A report entitled "Why America Gives" said 53% of donors account for donations when planning their household budgets, and 39% made small changes in their daily lives to donate to causes they care about.We are so grateful to all the generous community members who make our work possible. We could not meet the needs of Santa Cruz County without people like you, but we know that together anything is possible!Happy National Giving Month!#NationalGivingMonth ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
This holiday season give a gift that matters!Donations support all of our ten programs, but you can direct your donation towards the Early Education Division to directly support affordable childcare and get kids an excellent start to their education!Donate today at CommunityBridges.org/donate-Esta temporada de fiestas, ¡dé un regalo que realmente importa!¡Las donaciones apoyan todos nuestros 10 programas, pero usted puede dirigir su donación hacia la Early Education Division para apoyar directamente el cuidado de niños asequibles y conseguir que los niños tengan un buen comienzo en su educación!Done hoy en CommunityBridges.org/donate#CommunityBridges #holiday #donation #giving #holidayseason #gift #children #families ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Family Resource Centers are at Santa Cruz Gives!This project restores critical funding to support parents in gaining skills to help their children with school work. English classes are held in groups where parents support each other while learning together. Your donations at Santa Cruz Gives provide a welcoming space and child care for parents to attend classes while their older children are in school. Visit our project page and support lifelong learning. Give now at ow.ly/ekkC50LRnHG ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Community Bridges 2022 Annual Report is here! From volunteers to donors, advocates and supporters, board members and employees, we are incredibly grateful for everything you helped accomplish this past year. To read the full report and find ways to help, visit communitybridges.org/annual-reports ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
Two years ago, 911 homes were lost in the CZU Lightning Complex Fire, and many affected families are still trying to recoup what they lost. Please help to rebuild some holiday cheer for the families by donating ornaments to the following locations below: -Mountain Community Resources, Felton-Boulder Creek Recreation Center, 1333 Middleton Avenue, Ben Lomond-Live Oak Community Resources, Live Oak-Nueva Vista Community Resources, Santa CruzOr, sign up for donation pick up (Santa Cruz, Bonny Doon and SLV) here: forms.gle/swrvTieSZrMFAuEs7 ... See MoreSee Less
View on Facebook
EnglishEspañolFilipino简体中文