Special Sections

SCS Non Profit FINAL 2021

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At the start of the new school year, the U.S. Department of Education anticipates that many schools across the country will return to in-person learning. Foster children will return to school excited to reconnect with their friends and teachers and once again enjoy their extra-curricular activities. But after such a signif- icant period of remote learning, the return could result in higher levels of stress and uncertainty and present new academic challenges to an already vulnerable population of students. When a child or youth is removed from their birth family and placed in new school system, studies show a loss of 4-6 months of academic progress and as much as 75% of these children work below grade level. They test more poorly than their peers, drop out at higher rates, and graduate less. And of those that do finish high school, only 3% go on to graduate from four- year colleges. To support this at-risk group's educational and emotional development, CASA of Santa Cruz County recruits, screens, trains, and thoughtful- ly matches a volunteer with a foster youth. As a Court Appointed Special Advocate, they not only elevate their child's voice in the dependency system, but also mentor them through the most tumultuous time in their lives. Advocates develop an intimate understanding of their child's needs and help facilitate care- givers' access to integral resources. To alleviate the potential stress of changing schools, they can advocate for placement stability. And Advocates frequently attend school meet- ings and recommend strategies that support the child's success such as tutoring, therapies, assistive technology, and CASA of Santa Cruz County by CASA other accommodations. As the new school year begins, CASA of Santa Cruz County and the Santa Cruz Office of Edu- cation have again part- nered to ensure that foster children in our county are supplied with the neces- sary items to find success in school. Backpacks filled with grade level ap- propriate school supplies have been generously donated by the Foster Education department and are now being distributed by CASA Advocates to their children. In addition, the CASA house has now reopened to provide a safe, inviting refuge where foster youth can come to do home- work, crafts, or simply play. Help CASA celebrate these children and youth's profound resilience and join us at the annual fund- raiser, Imagine!. Tickets are available for either the drive-up or dinner and live auction event. Enjoy food, drink, and great company in support of our county's foster children. Learn more at www.casa- ofsantacruz.org/imagine. Provided Photos There have been times of national crisis in our country's history. During those times it was consid- ered patriotic to put the good of the community ahead of one's self. In many ways, Santa Cruz County rose to meet that patriotic sense of com- munity in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the CZU wildfires. Non-profits saw astound- ing generosity across the country throughout 2020 – reportedly surpassing a national record of $471 billion, according to a June 2021 issue of For- tune Magazine. Ameri- can's have always been generous in response to tragedy. In the early days of the lockdown, Santa Cruz County saw an immediate 500% increase in demand for services at our Family Resource Centers. Commu- nity Bridges and its partners distributed more than 500,000 pounds of food and more than doubled the num- ber of meals distributed by Meals on Wheels through- out the county. We were able to meet these needs because Santa Cruz County stepped up to the plate. But recovery doesn't hap- pen all at once for everyone. In the Santa Cruz Moun- tains, many of our neigh- bors are still struggling to rebuild after the CZU wildfire last year. Across our community, many mem- bers of our community were out of work for long periods and have back rent and bills Community Bridges Helps Santa Cruz County Navigate Post-Pandemic Challenges by Community Bridges Provided Photo to repay. According to the most recent, statewide housing relief data there are still thousands of eli- gible households in Santa Cruz County who have yet to apply for assistance. Community Bridges is investing in advocacy and legal aid resources and provides support for households seeking rental relief assistance. As long as the need continues to be there, we plan to continue investing in these resources. During the pandemic Meals on Wheels (MOW) set a new record for meals served. Part of this increase was the result of the organization's decision to add a breakfast meal to address an increase in food insecurity. As the pandemic has slowly receded, we've seen a de- crease in demand for meal deliveries. While that's a welcome sign of improve- ments, we continue to see elevated demand when we compare ourselves with pre-pandemic service levels. The next "pandemic" will be less visible. We know it will take longer for some members of our community to recover. We expect children will struggle academically and emotionally to adjust after more than a year at home. We know the food insecurity revealed by the pandemic likely always existed – just below the surface. Today we deliver community services to thousands of local chil- dren, families and seniors through ten programs located across 20 commu- nity sites. But that mission is likely to be more challenging as we move into this next year. Many of the organization's we rely on for funding are understandably tightening their belts. As we look to this next year, we ask that you sup- port Community Bridges by helping us tell our sto- ry. Share your experiences with Community Bridges programs and services. Help us remind our civic and business leaders that even as some of us are returning to normal – for many normal is still not within reach. Raymon Cancino is CEO of Community Bridges. Cancino joined the Santa Cruz County non-profit human services agency as Chief Executive Officer in 2014. Pajaro Valley Shelter Services' three-year average for permanent housing placement and employment success are 72% and 76%. The success of PVSS families is a testament to their resilience and deter- mination. It is especially remarkable since the families we serve have suffered the brunt of the pandemic's health and so- cioeconomic consequenc- es. Within a week of the Shelter-in-Place Order for Santa Cruz County, 57% of the families in our programs lost their jobs. They did not resign them- selves to the situation; in- stead, they began seeking alternative employment with diligence and deter- mination. Within a month, 25% of those families had regained employment, which demonstrates their commitment to building self-sufficiency against all odds. The pandemic has reinforced PVSS' critical role in serving children and their parents experi- encing homelessness. We are working harder than ever before to help them mitigate the effects of the pandemic on their prog- ress to self-sufficiency. We are grateful for you, our community, for your unwavering support of our mission: providing families with a path to stable, self-sufficient futures through short- and longer-term housing and supportive services. Be- cause of you, we continue to be the most effective organization in the Pajaro Valley that provides Emergency Shelter and Transitional Housing. We provide shelter & safety. In 2020-2021, we provided warm, secure housing to 218 children and their parents. We transform lives. 64% of families have exited successfully with savings for housing over the past 3 years, and 76% of adults Families at Pajaro Valley Shelter Services Persevere by PVSS have exited successfully with employment. We offer hope & home. 72% of families have exited successfully into permanent housing over the past 3 years. Together, we help families thrive - not just survive - under a roof of their own. OPEN HOUSE Come see our new and improved headquarters and meet the people that make miracles happen at PVSS! October 8, 2021 10 AM – 6 PM For more information, visit our website, www. pvshelter.org. Provided Photos of the Ponce Family.

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