Family Resource Center Truckee: 15 years of progress
Special to the Sun
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Since 1999, the Family Resource Center of Truckee has evolved from an idea, to a single employee offering limited support out of a small office, to a team of staff, contractors and volunteers proactively offering multiple services that are fundamental to the vitality of our community.
While Family Resource Centers are located throughout California, Truckee’s is highly focused on the unique needs and challenges of families in the community.
Rosa Davis, honorary board member, said the FRCoT started in borrowed office space in the Nevada County Joseph Center for a few months before moving to a small office located in the KidZone Museum in Truckee.
It then moved to occupy a few cubicles at Sierra Mountain Middle School.
“At that point the organization was not its own 501(c)3, so it technically did not exist as an independent non-profit. It was under the umbrella of the North Tahoe Family Resource Center,” said Elizabeth Balmin, program director of FRCoT’s Mediation and Legal Assistance Program.
Balmin said the mission to expand FRCoT was championed by Ruth Hall, a founding board member who helped move the organization to operate as its own 501(c)3.
“Ruth Hall, whose passion was early childhood education, significantly helped to spearhead the organization,” Balmin said. “With her support the FRCoT brought on Adela Gonzalez de Valle as Executive Director.”
With the dedication of Gonzalez, the founding board was generated in 2006, providing FRCoT with the guidance and support to operate more successfully.
“Our volunteer Board of Directors is the heart and soul of the organization,” said Balmin. “We started with one contract to serve 30 families and next thing you know we are serving 1,000 families every year.”
“As the FRC kept growing, we quickly realized we needed more space,” Davis said. “We were very lucky to receive a generous donation from the Truckee-Donner Recreation & Park District. Upon completion of a new facility, the former Teen Center building was gifted to us.”
The building, which was transported intact to its new location on the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District property in October 2009, offered more space for employees to assist clients in a safe and comfortable environment.
Since the beginning, FRCoT’s mission has been to promote social and economic success in our community by providing education, mobilizing resources and advocating for change.
The organization fills gaps in the community through programs such as Parenting Classes, Mediation and Legal Assistance, Family Advocacy and Promotora Latino Health Education.
Parenting Classes provide education and encouragement as families grow. Offerings for parents of infants and toddlers include Baby and Me, Infant Massage, Toddler Sleep Seminar, the Family Room and Musikgarten.
Family Advocates help families to assess their strengths and achieve their goals. Programs include homelessness prevention, abuse prevention, emergency housing assistance and affordable housing advocacy.
“Promotoras” are para-professionally trained lay educators who promote wellbeing, resiliency and recovery to Latinos in the region, in partnership with Tahoe Forest Hospital District and North Tahoe Family Resource Center.
The Mediation and Legal Assistance program offers free and reduced cost legal services to community members.
FRCoT also offers community events such as Dia De Los Muertos, and Family Fun Nights.
Phebe Bell, Health and Human Services Program Manager for Placer and Nevada counties, has been able to watch the FRCoT grow and flourish within Truckee.
“I remember when the FRC was just a thought for many of us in the community,” she said. “We knew we wanted a central place for people to go when they needed support — a welcoming environment with staff that would help problem solve and connect people to resources.”
While FRCoT has come a long way from its humble beginnings in 2001, the organization still faces funding and awareness challenges.
“I think to this day we still struggle with visibility and the community really understanding what services we provide,” said current Board Chair Carmen Carr. “That is one of our biggest goals — to share our story and the value of the services we provide with our community.”
FRCoT relies heavily on grants and donors to keep functioning within the community; however, as grant funds become scarcer the organization must strategically pursue other funding sources, especially individual donors, in order to continue serving the community.
Visit truckeefrc.org to learn more.
Kelly Mahoney is a senior at Sierra Nevada College in Incline Village. This article is among others she is writing as part of a Senior Service Project at SNC Tahoe.