As a new mom I used the WIC program- Women Infant and Children. WIC provides supplemental food and other support. The greatest value to me was that I was able to check out a high quality breast pump which made returning to work and breastfeeding possible. The employees at WIC also helped refer me to the Healthy Families low cost insurance program. It was a great resource!
This is one of the best sets of programs I know about. I worked for one of the Community Bridges programs for several years, first as a volunteer, and later as an employee--and would still be working there if cutbacks hadn't caused them to discontinue my job. The program I worked for was the Senior Lunch Program through Meals on Wheels. This provided free (by donation) lunch to seniors, including many homeless seniors, at a local community center. The lunch was nutricious and there was lots of variety and people usually really liked the food. Also, it provided community. Participants helped serve food, played musical instruments, and helped each other. For example, some of the people who had more money would hire a fellow lunch-goer who was homeless to do some painting or yardwork for them. I also am familiar with some of the other programs of Community Bridges, such as La Familia Center which provides transitional support to families who don't speak English and is a really friendly, nice community center across town. I give Community Bridges my highest rating.
Once I heard the director of Community Bridges tell a very touching story at a Volunteer Appreciation dinner. Santa Cruz had had a bad earthquake some years ago. Phone lines and electricity were out and many roads were closed so at first the director couldn't even get to his office. The director was very worried about elders who were 'shut in' and might be traumatized from the earthquake, so he wanted to round up some volunteers to go see if they were ok even if no meals could be delivered that day. He pulled up to his office at 5AM and was trying to figure out how he would find some volunteers, but much to his surprise a group of volunteers was already there. They had set up tables, lit by the lights of their cars, and were making sandwiches to take to the elders. He said that is the true spirit of Community Bridges, and I couldn't agree more.
Community Bridges is an essential organization in Santa Cruz County and runs ten amazing programs, serving infants through seniors. I have several elderly neighbors who were having difficulty getting to the store or the doctor. I helped them apply to the Lift Line program, so they could get meals and rides. Another senior friend of mine was ill and unable to prepare his meals, and I helped him apply to Meals on Wheels. His Meals on Wheels drivers have become his friends and check up on him on a regular basis. The Elderday program has been a godsend for friends with elderly parents with Alzheimer. At Elderday, their parents are well cared for, while my friends work. Community Bridges runs several community centers at Beach Flats, Mountain Community, La Manzana, Familia Center and Live Oak. As a parent, I was able to take crucial parenting classes at the Live Oak center. These classes were invaluable to families and have provided education classes to new moms and other services. Community Bridges acts as a lifeline to those who are most vulnerable by providing food and nutrition counseling to daycare providers of children and seniors, as well as, mothers and infants. Community Bridges provides a safety net for the people of Santa Cruz County, making our community healthier. You would be hard pressed to find someone, in Santa Cruz County, who has not been helped by this organization, or knows someone who has been helped by Community Bridges.
Help is available through many stages of life from cuddly newborns to fragile seniors and all ages in between. When families and individuals have no where else to turn Community Bridges is there to steer them in the right direction. They not only help people with basic needs but they teach people to self sustain which is essential in any person's life and our community!.
My mother is a participant of Community Bridges' Child & Adult Care Food Program. The food nutrition knowledge that the Consultants provide to licensed childcare home providers has had a huge impact on the nutritional meals my mother serves to the children under her care. The children are served balanced meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner and a snack in between breakfast and lunch and in between lunch and dinner. The majority of the children under my mother's care are children of low-income family that work in agricultural so seeing the children not only be thought rich curriculum but also nutritional meals that perhaps they may not have at their home, is really rewarding.
My grandmother is a participant of Community Bridges' Lift Line Program and Community Bridges' Elderday Program. Thanks to Lift Line my grandmother is able to attend all her medical appointments and go to Elderday four times per week. The drivers are friendly and care about the well being of my mother. It is reassuring to see professional staff transport my frail grandmother. My grandmother shares with me that she exercises, sings and makes bracelets. She has four close friends and they all brag to each other about how many grandchildren they have. Elderday is so good to my grandma's heart and I as well as my family are great-full for this wonderful programs. Without Lift Line and Elderday my grandmother would most likely spend the majority of the day at home waiting for us to return from work. At Elderday we know that she is safe and being attended too and that Lift Line will transport her back to us.