We envision a thriving community where every person has the opportunity to unleash their full potential.
Years of service: 43
Their story: Community Bridges has come far from its roots as a grassroots food program. It now spans a range of services aimed at meeting a diverse range of needs for Santa Cruz County residents — from children to seniors. he nonprofit provides transportation, food, health care, and senior services to thousands of people each year. “We want to make sure that our neighbors and community members have the resources that make them successful,” says CEO Ray Cancino. Community Bridges also offers case management, grade-school tutoring, and classes in nutrition, parenting and literacy. Over the decades some of its services have spun off into independent organizations. That flow also works the other way as it has taken in programs to cut down on overhead and provide, as Cancino puts it, “the best quality of service in the most efficient way possible.”
Fundraising focus: Getting disaster relief to those impacted by the CZU Lightning Complex fires and COVID-19 is a top priority for Community Bridges, whose portfolio of 10 programs provides a wide range of services — Meals on Wheels, transportation, tutoring — to people of all ages across the county. The clientele is largely Latinx, a community hit especially hard by the pandemic. Many of those who made a living in the service and agricultural industries lost their jobs (and paychecks) due to COVID. Community Bridges has responded by offering food and direct financial assistance to this population, including undocumented workers who’ve fallen on hard times. Demand for its Meals on Wheels program that feeds folks age 60 and older has doubled since March. Another recent focus has been disaster preparedness, making sure residents in the fire-affected areas are armed with the right supplies and evacuation information heading into the potentially dangerous rainy season.
“We try to bring solutions to community problems. We try to ensure that our community is as equitable as possible for everyone.”