Evolution of Suite 128 in The Mall
Community Resource Center to Open its Doors Soon
Last updated 6/8/2023 at 12:11pm
Suite 128 in the Mall has been a pharmacy, an arcade, a library, an art gallery and is now evolving into a new and exciting role! With its huge room, large windows and long curbside, suite 128 quickly became the prime location for COVID’s drive-by Food Bank during the Pandemic. Once a week, hundreds of cars pulled up to the curb and dozens of masked volunteers loaded up boxes of food in the trunks of grateful locals.
Then something interesting happened. With COVID slowing down and folks able to come inside to the Food Bank, there were opportunities for conversations, questions about COVID vaccinations, inquiries about housing, unemployment and English classes. Locals behind on their high SDG&E bills had questions about the BMA (Borrego Ministers’ Association) and how they could assist them. The highly successful Let’s Go Borrego Program had folks wanting to sign up for reimbursements for their medical trips. So many inquiries were coming in about CalFresh, CalWorks and MediCal that San Diego County Health and Human Services decided to send out Social Workers once a month to our Food Bank as well as to our County Library.
All of this flurry of inquiries and activities led us to ask the question, “Where do our locals go to access the many social services that San Diego County offers and that our taxes support?” In most communities, there is a center that houses people, computers and social workers that can connect locals with resources. Not here in Borrego Springs. Librarian Cristin McVey, as well as our schools and churches do some of this, but what appeared to be needed was a one-stop warehouse that could address the myriad of needs in our community. What we needed was a Community Resource Center, staffed with bilingual folks as well as people familiar with county, state and federal social programs.
Voila! The rebirth of Suite 128 in the Mall as a veritable Community Resource Center (CRC) complete with its own 501c3 status and Board of Directors. The mission of the Borrego Springs CRC is to “...provide a full range of social services to the community, especially to those who are severely disadvantaged”. This noble mission would not be possible without the generous support of many organizations in Borrego Springs. These include Dan Wright of the Youth and Senior Center, the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund and Business Owners, Jim and Anne Wermers. The expertise of Jim Dion, BVEF’s Director of Development, has been invaluable in the formation of the CRC.
The CRC, located at the East end of the Mall, is becoming a hub of activities and conversations. Hundreds of folks have signed up for their COVID vaccinations on site with our computers, every week a minimum of 220 families receive nutritious food from Feeding San Diego and the Cushman Food Bank, dozens sign up for CalFresh, CalWorks and MediCal and even more receive transportation support to doctors’ appointments via Let’s Go Borrego. Our counselor is offering her services and the Center is home for classes on everything from dementia to photography. We have only begun to reach our community’s needs.
Our isolated and rural community needs and deserves all the services we can offer in conjunction with San Diego County and other agencies. Our community is only as strong as our weakest link. Our goal is to strengthen this link and make our community strong and resilient.
Our financial support is currently coming from the above-mentioned sponsors, as well as community individuals and foundations. At this point, we have only one paid employee and she is our Food Bank Manager, Silvia Arambula. Future plans include adding additional paid employees and these will be funded through grants and fundraisers. We look forward to listening to our community, offering more services and keeping our doors open every day of the week to meet these varied needs.
Martha Deichler, Chair
Lori Seagrim, Vice Chair
Diane Johnson, Secretary
Eddie Rivera, Jim Wermers, Treasurers
Silvia Arambula - Food Bank Manager