We envision a thriving community where every person has the opportunity to unleash their full potential.
Years of service: 45
Their story: Community Bridges fills a vital role in Santa Cruz County by operating ten programs that help local children, families and older adults thrive. Since its inception as a mutual aid program, to administrator of federal relief aid programs, the nonprofit supports 20,000 area residents each year by delivering resources needed to thrive. “We want to make sure that our neighbors and community members have the resources that make them successful,” says CEO Ray Cancino. 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.” Today the nonprofit provides application assistance, counseling, early education, healthy food and transportation, as well as classes in breastfeeding, nutrition, parenting and literacy.
Fundraising focus: Community Bridges needs help this year as much as ever to ensure that local families can thrive. Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic and CZU Fires-- while addressing mounting inflation and operating costs-- requires leadership and commitment to ensure we work together and stay connected. Rising costs affect those already experiencing food and housing insecurity. For children, hunger can diminish their ability to learn and grow, while poor nutrition among older adults can cause chronic disease requiring costly hospital or nursing care. From the pandemic, to a reopening economy providing people with more options for their disposable income, the costs of inflation and investment losses have created a rift where emergency relief funds have dried up while others are unable to give.
“We try to bring solutions to community problems. We try to ensure that our community is as equitable as possible for everyone.”