The Village Community Resource Center (VCRC) is small in size, but its supporters are helping low income families of East County in a big way.
Anthony Murillo, VCRC senior program coordinator, said the holiday season is a busy time for the VCRC, which provides resources and services for families of all backgrounds. After donating 25 food baskets to families in need last week for Thanksgiving, the VCRC is preparing for its inaugural Toy Swap on Dec. 12.
Not all families can afford to buy new toys for their children, so this year we've created the toy swap, Murillo said. Children can bring in one of their used toys and get a ticket, and once all the toys are collected, they can use their ticket to get a new' toy.
Additionally, Murillo said the VCRC will be able to supply 200 families with blankets and gift cards to purchase clothes to stay warm during the winter months with the help of a $3,500 donation from The Volunteer Center of the East Bay.
Annually, the VCRC provides education, health and social services Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. After the holidays, however, it is the VCRC that will be looking for
The organization has until 2011 to raise $500,000 to build a new facility to accommodate the growing number of families seeking its services. The City of Brentwood donated 2.3 acres to the VCRC in 2002 and agreed to match the fundraising efforts so that a larger facility can be built.
So far the VCRC has reached one fifth of its goal in six years, but Murillo is certain that the new center will be built.
We're going to do it, Murillo said. I know it's going to be built. A new facility would help us serve triple the amount of people, and there are so many in need. We're even seeing more middle-class families coming in for help.
We want to expand the horizons for these people and let them know about all the services available to them. While it'll be exciting to have a bigger center, the really exciting thing is getting to help more people, especially in this economy.
Murillo said the problem is that most people don't know about the VCRC. We live in a city with a population of about 60,000. If everyone donated a dollar a month, we could have the new center built in a year.
The VCRC currently offers an after-school program for grades K-8. Every Saturday, a mobile John Muir Clinic comes to the center to offer free health care to families lacking health insurance. The VCRC operates a food bank every Thursday and distributes groceries to low-income families. A full list of the VCRC resources and services may be found on its Web site.
Murillo said a new facility would allow the VCRC to expand the after-school program and dedicate a space for a daycare and preschool. He'd also like to have a computer lab and offer computer classes on a regular basis.
People have kind hearts and donate to organizations that serve people all around the world, Murillo said, but most people don't realize that there is a great need in their own community, right here in far East County. I hope the community will come together to make our new center a reality.
The VCRC is located at 633 Village Drive in Brentwood. For information about the Toy Swap and other VCRC services, call 925-513-3107 or visit www.communityresourcecenter.homestead.com.