WATSONVILLE — The Watsonville City Council approved funding for social services agencies Tuesday, and agreed to add more for senior programs after a large group urged them to do so.
According to Tamara Vides, analyst for the City of Watsonville, 44 agencies submitted applications for funding. However, the city’s budget only allows for $252,000 to be allocated, far below the more than $615,000 that was requested, Vides said.
Funding ranges from a minimum of $2,500 to $25,000. A total of 41 programs were recommended to receive funding out of 30 organizations.
A large group attended the meeting, many of which were there to thank the council for funding their programs, but some were questioning why senior programs such as Grey Bears were left off the list.
Tim Brattan, executive director of Grey Bears, said a large population of seniors the organization serves are from Watsonville, with about 300 bags of food being distributed every week in the city.
“It doesn’t just feed them, it helps them make ends meet,” he said.
Grey Bears volunteer Bob Hurley said he witnesses first-hand the impact Grey Bears has on local seniors, many of which have tears in their eyes when they receive bags of food.
“When you say ‘no’ to these people, it’s kind of a slap in the face that you really don’t appreciate what we’re doing,” he said.
Councilwoman Rebecca Garcia, who served on the subcommittee that recommended the funding list with council members Jimmy Dutra and Felipe Hernandez, said the group worked hours on end to decide the funding levels, with priorities geared toward seniors and youth.
However, because the minimum award amount was increased to $2,500 for this cycle, and due to a tight budget, “this meant there was going to be some programs who were not going to be funded,” she said.
After Garcia motioned to approve the recommendations, Hernandez seconded, with the addition that Grey Bears, Senior Outreach and Senior Network Services each receive $2,500. The motion was approved unanimously.
Councilwoman Nancy Bilicich said she received about 40 phone calls from community members, urging the council to add more senior services to the list of funding.
“The committee did a good job, but we can’t just eliminate services seniors greatly depend on,” Bilicich said, adding that she wanted the senior issues to be addressed before she voted on the funding recommendations.