“All of our programs are designed to engage the client and give him or her the tools they need to improve their quality of life.”
Founded as a ministry of the First Christian Church in 1970, Davis Street Community Center (DSCC) became a 501(c)(3) in 1990. The Reverend Homer Richardson joined a group of church leaders in AlamedaCounty and together they secured the first State Department of Education childcare subsidies. He added this program to the food pantry and the recycling center that was the hallmark of the ministry. San Leandro in the 1960s and even into the 1970s was home to a sizable migrant population and to a growing number of two-parent, working poor households. Homer added a licensed childcare center serving 24 children and a thrift store, rounding out the support services to the community. By the mid 1980s the Church made the decision to spin off the community center, and the incorporation was completed in May 1990.
Rose Padilla Johnson, our current Executive Director, came on board in 1991 to a program that consisted of 65 subsidized childcare slots, a small thrift shop and food pantry. Her vision was to grow the agency in the area of family support services, and together with a board of nine community members, began this process.
Dr. Irv Herman, a retired physician came to DSCC with the idea of starting a “free” medical clinic to serve poor and uninsured residents of San Leandro. Embracing the concept, the Executive Director presented this idea to the local Rotary Club who took it on as a club project.
We opened our first off-site licensed childcare center at the Garfield School campus. This was a critical point for both DSCC, and the community, because for the first time, the community recognized that there was, indeed, a need for low-cost but quality licensed childcare.
With San Leandro Rotary’s support, City Manager Dick Randal, Ivan Cornelius ,and Marty Capron we built the RotaCare Free Medical Clinic. The 450-square-foot space was transformed by the Rotarians into two exam rooms, a tiny pharmacy and a small reception area. Patients waited outside, often for up to two hours, to see a doctor. The clinic was a huge success. Opened on June 21, 1995, the clinic quickly became the jewel of the community. Proudly, more than 95% of the original volunteers are still with us today!
The Joaquin Infant/Toddler/Preschool subsidized program opened. The Center, licensed for 40 children, was the only fully-subsidized infant and toddler program in San Leandro and the Eden Area. Also in 1996, we opened our second child development program at the Jefferson School site. This subsidized center is a preschool through 5th grade program and serves up to 75 low-income children.
We opened our 4th before- and after-school enrichment program at Roosevelt School. This Center is the only market-rate program we operate, and its surplus has helped offset the cost of providing affordable care to low-income families.
While the early and mid 90s were set in a strong and growing economy, by the end of the decade, the poor were getting poorer and those at the margins, including seniors, were being hit hardest. Supervisor Wilma Chan provided a small seed grant to launch the San Leandro Works Initiative. Our vision was to create a collaborative partnership that could address the needs of people transitioning off welfare.
The program has changed over the years to accommodate the dwindling of public resources. In fact, we modified the scope of the program to include the working poor, so that the first wave of Cal Works clients who were timing out of the program in January, 2002, would have access to program assistance. It is important to note that we have clients who have purchased vehicles, started businesses, bought homes and moved into safer housing because of the savings accounts we helped establish. We truly feel that this is one of the most critical services we can offer families.
We opened a satellite office in the unincorporated area of San Leandro to meet the needs of another area that is extremely underserved. Sharing space with a county office, we offered limited basic needs such as food and clothing, with the goal of getting clients to come to DSCC for ongoing services. Today, we deliver emergency food and utility assistance services to the Ashland community and continue to encourage residents to visit the FRC for a myriad of programs.
We completed the merger with the San Leandro Community Counseling (SLCC), a local non-profit community-counseling agency, that would have closed its doors after 30 years of service to the community. We felt very strongly that the addition of vital mental health services both in the schools and on site, plus parent education and domestic violence prevention programs would greatly enhance the services of the Family Resource Center and move us toward the goal of offering a holistic range of family support services. We took over the operations of SLCC, and the merger was complete at the time of our move into the new Family Resource Center.
The Family Resource Center is the culmination of the dreams, vision and commitment of everyone involved with Davis Street. We were on a track to build a family resource center, without even knowing it at first. We knew that we wanted to offer an array of services designed to help people improve or maintain their quality of life. We knew we had outgrown the space at the Church and we knew that we could grow and strengthen the services.
Reynolds & Brown began looking for a new space for our programming. We needed space that was at least 20,000 square feet, near a bus stop and affordable! One day it happened. A high tech firm, that had been recently been bought out, occupied the ideal space. The tenants needed to move, the owner needed new tenants and the rest is history. R & B donated thousands of dollars in the form of architects, space planners and facilitated the transfer of assets from the former tenant to DSFRC. We designed the space working with Family Support California for two years and visited the Fremont Family Resource Center several times to observe what worked best for them.
We officially celebrated the move into our Family Resource Center. The site is 22,357 square feet. It houses the administrative functions, the alternative payment program (subsidized childcare voucher program), mental health services, the RotaCare free medical and dental clinic as well as the primary care clinic (a partnership with the Samuel Merritt School of Nurse Practitioners). In addition, we have space for our very popular clothing and food programs, the employment assistance programs and computer lab, as well as our housing assistance services. We are proud to house several non-profits that support clients in our program, including Seniors Services Home Visiting program, Peacemakers, and the Mammography Screening of Alameda County program.
From 2008 to the current day our client requests have increased by 300%. Many were new clients that had never accessed services. Some of the new clients were people who had previously donated to our center and now, due to layoffs and foreclosures, found themselves on the receiving end of the service spectrum. At this time, it was apparent to Rose Padilla Johnson and the Board of Directors that it was imperative that we secure a permanent home at our center, which would allow us to serve increasing numbers of families in need, thus reducing the burden of the economic crisis on these families and the community. In response, Davis Street launched a Capital Campaign to raise $2.5 million dollars to purchase the new facility.
At 11:37am Davis Street became the proud owners of the Alvarado/Teagarden Davis Street Family Resource Center! Rose Padilla Johnson and the Board completed a $2.5 million Capital Campaign. Fraught with challenges but uplifted by unwavering support from a number of individuals, businesses, community loan funds and government entities, Davis Street was able to make the dream of owning our own building a reality. We mark this date as the birth of a next phase in our existence and work in the community. Davis Street has a permanent home and now, without the expense of renting the building, we can direct more funds towards our family support programs.
Securing the building purchase funds, including a loan of $851,000 from the Northern California Low Income Investment Fund—was a complete success! The open and successful closure of escrow—completed! Securing $150,000 to pay down the loan—completed! Now Davis Street has refocused its fundraising efforts for building renovations and to create a reserve fund for long-term building maintenance. Completion of capital improvements, including: building modifications, modern phone and communications systems, security, computers and up-grades to all systems were all to be in progress. We submitted letters of intent to local family foundations. The Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation committed a $200,000 match toward our renovation campaign. With the generosity of private donors and the business community, Davis Street was able to match this grant and will soon be begin renovations to make our building more sustainable and equipped for our work in the community.
Today our vision of a holistic model of delivering supportive services to the low-income community has come to fruition with the Family Resource Center. With 51 full/part-time employees and a budget of $6.2 million, we serve thousands of individuals each year. Davis Street FRC is governed by a 12-member volunteer board of directors. In the wake of dwindling government resources and fewer private gifts, we fight harder and leaner than ever to continue our work for those most in need! It is our hope to continue to show our donors how deeply we appreciate their unwavering support, to spread awareness about our mission, and to cultivate a new generation of young supporters who will become the new faces of our community leadership, through fresh fundraising efforts, new technologies, and volunteerism. We are more hopeful than ever and incredibly grateful to all who have and continue to make our work possible!