Community organizations can help bridge the gap between the city and its citizens by providing resources, services, and information. Throughout South Hayward, many organizations and people had reported similar necessities to improve their part of the city. These results are based on reports and interviews conducted by Chabot College students in Professors Sean MacFarland and Eric Heltzel’s courses.
The students went out and interviewed people, faith-based churches, schools, and non-profit organizations. “Many people and organizations reported concerns with; crime, disappearing business, entertainment, and public spaces,” said Professor Heltzel. Holiday Bowl, Valle Vista Skating Rink, and Operation Paintball to name a few attractions of the past.
When community organizations were asked how many use their resources and services, most replies were similar. “People don’t know about us and our services.”
Project EATS, at Tennyson High School teaches the community how to grow and cook fresh, healthy food. Along with supplying the local culinary courses, the program provides space for up to 30 families to farm their organic food. They usually serve up to 12.
Others like the South Hayward Parish Church, are regularly impacted with helping individuals plagued with food shortage, and lack of shelter/bedding. Requiring them to turn down some because the demand exceeds the supply.
“Some of our services include; food for families in need, showers for the homeless and resources for rehab, work, and housing,” said Director Ralph Morales. Serving the community since 1964, South Hayward Parish wants to extend their aid but will require more funding from the city to do so.
Downtown Streets helps homeless acquire communication and resume skills as well as housing and social security resources. This Bay Area organization has seen success in Oakland, Santa Cruz, San Jose, and San Francisco. Their biggest priority is getting its volunteers jobs; most are 40 years or older.
According to their website streetsteam.org/hayward, “In exchange for beautifying your community, you receive gift cards to help with your basic needs and access to employment and case management services that support you in achieving your goals.” Currently, there is a waitlist, to inquire visit their “Weekly Success Meeting” at Hayward Area Historical Society 22380 Foothill Blvd, Hayward Every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. sharp.
The Hayward Promise Neighborhood promotes higher education through collaboration within schools. According to their website, “HPN is designed to specifically support its children from conception until they graduate from high school and transition to college or post-secondary training – cradle to career.”
They offer over 35 programs and services like Parent Promise Academy teaching families with children birth age to eight, focusing on understanding your child’s behavior, positive discipline and communication, and keeping your family healthy. With more people utilizing their services, HPN is requesting more funding to meet the demand.
At Eldridge Elementary, students are turning down lunches provided by the district. President of the Parent Teacher Organization at Eldridge and Volunteer Supervisor Guy Andrade said, “the campus doesn’t cook its lunches, they get it delivered by the district. The kids are disgusted by the “poor” quality and lack of choice. They more than often throw the lunch away.” Andrade then suggested, “Parents should be allowed to cook at the school and teach/learn about other cultures.”
It is also difficult to get parent volunteers, Guy Andrade reaches out by asking parents waiting in their cars before school is out. Andrade said, “Their typical answers include; tired from work, working two jobs, don’t have the time or have other kids in the car.”
At Chabot College, students are provided free groceries twice a month; a service administered through the Student Initiative Center. The Student Initiative Center is always battling for a designated space to store food available to students at least five days a week.
Resulting from the data gathered, the amount of affordable healthy food is a constant issue. Student Rayquan (last name) research project revealed 16 liquor stores on or near Tennyson Blvd. before any affordable and healthy grocery store.
The rising demand for employment and housing services, as well as lack of parent-volunteer involvement, are also common obstacles. Every result is progress, with further research and advocacy we can identify solutions that address the needs of the community.