(Raymon Cancino, CEO of Community Bridges, talks about the new headquarters of the community service organization in Watsonville. Photo by Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian)
WATSONVILLE — Community Bridges has settled into its new offices in downtown Watsonville, bringing its headquarters closer to the majority of people it serves.
Established in 1977, the organization runs 10 programs, such as family resource centers, nutrition programs and programs for seniors including Elderday and Meals on Wheels. It serves about 22,000 people annually, according to Community Bridges CEO Raymon Cancino.
Now, after operating out of Aptos for four decades, Community Bridges has purchased the La Manzana building on 517-521 Main St. The organization had already operated about 40 percent of the space before it purchased the building, according to Cancino, with its Women, Infants and Children program and La Manzana Community Resources already based there.
The administrative offices of Lift Line, which schedules rides for seniors to medical appointments and food sites, has also moved to La Manzana from Aptos.
The 32,000-square-foot location not only saves the organization on monthly rent, but it allows the majority of its services to be headquartered in one centralized spot, Cancino said.
“We wanted to create a sense of togetherness,” he said.
Community Bridges is also making moves to be greener. A large solar panel installation has been placed on the roof of La Manzana, and is estimated to cover about 80 percent of the building’s electricity when it goes online Sept. 24, according to Cancino.
An electric vehicle charging station has also been installed in the parking lot, allowing staff members to charge their vehicles for free. Non-employees can also charge up for a fee, which is paid to Community Bridges.
“We want to be good stewards of our environment and our community,” Cancino said.
But to continue offering its services, Community Bridges relies heavily on donations.
According to the organization’s annual report, released in 2017, federal government support has slightly dropped over the last three years.
“There’s a lot of need in the community, but not a lot of funds to meet it,” Cancino said.
However, donations from individuals has grown “dramatically” over the same time period, according to the report, from $446,903 to $755,239.
The new location and solar panels will help the organization’s bottom line in the long run, and most recently, the third annual Farm to Fork Gala raised more than $63,000 for Community Bridges on Aug. 4 at Aptos Village Park.
Community Bridges will host a kickoff party for Measure H, the affordable housing bond measure on the November ballot, on Sept. 28 at 6 p.m. at 519 Main St.
The organization is also gearing up for its annual Mountain Affair, taking place Oct. 12 from 6-10 p.m. at Ristorante Casa Nostra, 9217 Highway 9 in Ben Lomond. The event benefits Mountain Community Resources. For information, visit www.communitybridges.org/mcr.
For information about Community Bridges, visit communitybridges.org.