East Family Justice Center opens in Antioch

Photo by Tony Kukulich

East County residents, dignitaries and officials gathered to cut the ribbon the East Family Justice Center in Antioch on Sept. 27. The center serves victims of domestic and interpersonal violence, sexual assault, human trafficking,and child and elder abuse.

Hundreds of elected officials, advocates and local residents gathered in Antioch on Friday, Sept. 27, to celebrate the opening of the East Family Justice Center.

The new location is the nonprofit organization’s third in Contra Costa County, serving victims of domestic and interpersonal violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and child and elder abuse. Other locations are in Richmond and Concord.

Opening an East County location is a testament to access, says District 3 County Supervisor Diane Burgis, a key organizer in the effort.

“Last year, Contra Costa Family Justice Center helped over 3,074 families,” Burgis said. “That included 2,368 children, and that was a 26% increase over the previous year, and about 600 of those folks came all the way from East County to the Concord or Richmond centers. At the top five cities where the most assistance was provided in 2018, Antioch and Pittsburg were number three and number five. So now the East County cities have come together ... People affected by interpersonal violence will find it easier to get the help they need.”

The Family Justice Center is designed to be a one-stop shop for victims, reducing the need for them to travel from place to place, having to re-tell their stories again and again. Countywide, the center has 52 public and private partners to aid victims. The new East County location will have 20 on site.

“It’s also easier on the service providers,” Burgis said. “Having services offered in one place enables advocates, law enforcement and prosecutors to work together to better address the unique needs and concerns of the victims.”

Services — which are provided at no cost — include safety planning, housing aid, counseling and mental health assistance, restraining order help, family-law guidance and court support. The center’s budget is funded through county, state and federal grants, city funds, foundations, corporations and individual donors.

Gloria Borjon, a Family Justice Center community fellow and former recipient of its services, spoke at the opening to discuss how much its support helped her.

Borjon participated in the center’s “Wings” program (Women Inspired to Grow and Succeed) after living in a battered women’s shelter, after her son’s father raped her. She was in a support group where she learned about the Wings program, and said it led her in the right direction. The program aims to increase interpersonal violence survivors’ self-sufficiency and leadership skills.

“The Wings program provided everything I needed for my healing journey,” Borjon said. “They offered childcare and a nutritious meal, and as a single mom, all of this was a beautiful blessing. Once I completed the program, I received a certificate. Receiving that certificate of accomplishment sparked something inside of me. I felt comfortable now to ask for help. The Wings program showed me that I was not alone.”

Following the program, Borjon enrolled in college and completed a medical assisting program. She now works part-time at John Muir Health as a medical imaging assistant and says the best is yet to come.

“The center is the one place people can go, not only to ask for help, but to have it wrapped around them from all angles,” said Oakley Mayor Claire Alaura.

“This resource is vital for beginning the healing process,” added Brentwood City Councilmember Karen Rarey.

The East Family Justice Center is located at 3501 Lone Tree Way in Antioch. For more information, call 925-281-0970 or visit www.cocofamilyjustice.org.