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Community Resource Center Celebrates One Year

 

Last updated 4/15/2024 at 12:51pm



The Borrego Springs Community Resource Center (CRC) is approaching its one-year anniversary and is busier than ever. One year ago, in April 2023, the Borrego Valley Endowment Fund (BVEF) announced the newly incorporated CRC, a 501(c)(3) non-profit California corporation, received its IRS Letter of Determination confirming its tax-exempt status.

The CRC took shape in the early days of the pandemic as a collaboration among several Borrego Springs residents. Anne and Jim Wermers, together with Thomas Fredericks, started a weekly food bank for the many people in the Borrego community who were suddenly without work or a paycheck because of the lockdown. “We knew that being without income would be a tremendous hardship for many families and we were determined to do something to help,” said Anne Wermers. The most immediate need they could help meet was food.

By May 2020, dozens of volunteers had been assembled to begin food distribution to anyone in need. All food had to be purchased and brought to Borrego Springs by volunteers.

Donations to purchase food came from community members eager to support the effort. Both the need for food and the generosity of donors in the community far exceeded anyone’s expectations.

By Fall 2020, it became clear that this volunteer organization needed a more formal structure. Wermers and Fredericks asked Dan Wright, President of the Borrego Springs Youth and Senior Center, for assistance. Under the umbrella of the Senior Center, the food bank moved into larger space, combined food banks with Martha Deichler’s bi-weekly High School food bank, and added additional services.

“Initially, we provided food to 60 to 70 families a week. Over time that number grew to more than 250 families, which is about a quarter of Borrego’s population. We thought once the pandemic restrictions were lifted the number of people requiring food assistance would decrease, but that has not been the case,” said Jim Wermers. In the early days of the CRC Anne Wermers kept track of donations given by community members and made sure each one was recognized with a handwritten note of gratitude. Anne Wermers said, “The generosity of this community is truly amazing. People just stepped forward and asked how they could help. Many donated their time to help with food distribution and many donated cash.”

Recognizing the importance of this effort to the community, the BVEF joined the Wermers in subsidizing the nascent CRC’s rent at The Mall and underwrote its incorporation process. In all the BVEF funded over $65,000 towards the permanent establishment of the CRC, thereby ensuring its ability to provide continuing assistance to Borrego Springs residents.

“The pandemic exposed a need in our community for food and other basic services, and that need has not diminished,” said David Garmon, Board Chair of the BVEF. Garmon added, “This is why the BVEF was eager to support the evolution of what began as a grass roots effort led by key individuals in the community. Beyond continuing the critical work of the food bank, we believe over time the CRC will become the community platform for delivering a wide range of services such as transportation assistance, legal assistance, summer activity programs for children, energy assistance, internet connectivity assistance, and health education.”

Inaugural CRC Board President, Martha Deichler said, “The creation of the CRC is an incredible milestone for our community. The CRC continues to provide weekly food to more than 250 families. The number of programs offered has expanded, often in strategic partnerships with other non-profits, including Borrego Art Institute, BASIC, Borrego Valley Stewardship Council, BS School District and OLAX. Classes for learning English, classes for learning Spanish, classes helping families teach reading to their children, art classes, legal services, support for transportation to out of town medical services, are among the many services now being offered, with more planned to roll out monthly.”

CRC is financially reliant on the generosity of donors.

At a recent fundraising event, over $200,000 was pledged by local donors, including $100,000 in a matching grant.

The Borrego Valley Endowment Fund’s mission is to harness the power of philanthropy to create enduring, community-wide benefits for the Borrego region. Supporting the creation of the CRC is one example of how the BVEF makes Borrego Springs a better community. If you would like to support the BVEF in achieving its mission by donating to important projects like this or others that may be of special interest to you, please contact Jim Dion at jdionbvef@gmail.com or visit http://www.bvefund.org.

 
 
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