Most people would drive right past the Community Resource Center (CRC) and never notice it because it’s in such a plain, nondescript building.
But for many homeless men, women and children, it is the closest thing they have to a home.
Run by Rene Evans, the Director of CRC, along with volunteers, many of whom are or were homeless themselves, the agency has been in operation since July of 2010.
According to Evans, 275 people regularly use the center and over the past two years they have had 9,000 visits from those needing help.
Services at the center include the use of computers to prepare resumes and do job searches, mail and phone privileges, assistance in applying for help from other agencies, bus passes, laundry facilities, AA meetings, bathrooms, a library, individual lockers, volunteer-provided transportation to appointments and/or school and a place to shower. Last year alone 800 showers were provided to people.
Evans describes CRC as a triage location for at-risk and homeless folks.
“They don’t have the resources we all enjoy like an address or phone number where people can leave messages, or a computer to get online, or a place to take a shower or do a load of laundry, or a bathroom. These are literally things they don’t have,” she said.
“We’re also a shoulder to cry on and a support system. We try to hook people up with family members as much as possible. Eight of 10 people here are dealing with mental health, drug or alcohol problems,” Evans said. “Add on to that the loss of your home, car and everything else and things can get ugly. There’s a ton of resources but people don’t know how to access them or they are too proud to ask. Sometimes people become immobilized. If people come in earlier, before they reach a crisis, we can help.”
Evans said part of the intervention process can be as simple as helping people get identification or a birth certificate or keeping needed medication in a safe place. Other times CRC may give a micro loan if it keeps someone from spiraling down; for example, helping people buy car insurance so they can keep their job if the job requires having a car.
CRC operates with no paid staff and a small budget of $50,000 a year. Its income comes from individual donations, the El Dorado Community Foundation, the Marshall Foundation, the Women’s Fund and other donors. Its major annual fundraiser is an art and wine event in October.
Different groups help support the center in other ways as well. The Soroptimists bought a washer and dryer so clients can wash their clothes. Green Valley Community Church helped with shelter costs. And recently the Federated Church Children’s Ministry raised $2,300 and gave it to CRC for whatever was needed.
“We collaborate with some agencies and enjoy good relationship with others,” said Evans. “We are truly blessed.”
What brings them
The kinds of people they serve are as varied as their services. Chris is one woman who arrived on their doorstep and will be forever grateful for the help she received.
Fifty-three years old, she says she used to live in El Dorado Hills with her husband, Mike, and their two sons, Ryan and Stevie.
“I had a house cleaning business, but in 2009 I started losing clients because they were losing their homes or the husband or wife had lost their job,” she said. “My income from the business became less and less. Then my husband was laid off from Comcast and he was out of work for close to a year. He tried to find a job but meanwhile we had to keep making house payments. It was very stressful.”
Then in a tragic accident, their son Stevie was killed while riding his bike. He was only 13 at the time. “Stevie had just earned his black belt and then we lost him because some lady wasn’t paying attention,” said Chris.
Chris’ husband finally got a new job after going through 11 interviews for the position. In the meantime, their home was going into foreclosure so they paid $5,000 to a company that promised to help them refinance their loan.
“But they didn’t help us and when we talked to a lawyer, he wanted $800 a month to work on the case and we didn’t have $800 to give him,” Chris said.
So they ended up losing their home and renting for the first time in their lives. Last November Chris said her husband lost his job. “After that he went quiet on me. He was having a nervous breakdown. We had been married for 25 years. We were about to be evicted. My husband packed up the car and left. I understand now why he had a nervous breakdown. I haven’t seen him since December,” she said.
“So I was left on my own. I did a lot of crying. Everything was ‘no, no, no’. All my clothes were in the car. I knew a friend in Placerville and we found the phone number for CRC. It was late in the afternoon when I drove over and they met me in the parking lot. I was hungry. They walked me in the door and I collapsed.
“That was in December. I cried and talked a lot. But I’ve become strong since then. I help around here as much as I can. I have a room in a home in Camino. I help take care of the house and the horses. I still clean a few homes but I’m looking for a job.
“Everything we had is gone because we believed people. We were really good people. We had that perfect life. The all-American dream life. We had two beautiful children. Luckily my other son is okay,” she smiled.
Chris remains one of the regular volunteers at CRC. “I help answer the phone and help people make appointments. Almost every day we receive a call from someone who has lost their home or has been evicted,” Chris said.
“I will always thank Rene and will always thank CRC because otherwise I have no idea where I’d be. Rene treats me like a sister. When I get back on my feet and the money starts rolling in, I will always be involved with the homeless because they helped me.”
For those needing help during the summer months, CRC operates more like a drop-in center and is open five days a week from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with dinner served nightly from 4 to 5:30 p.m.
During the winter months, CRC is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Since the community has no full-time shelter, those needing overnight housing during the winter are picked up at the center and shuttled to whatever church is providing shelter for the night since that duty is rotated among them.
For those needing help, the facility is located at 1864 Broadway in Placerville and can be contacted at 530-344-1864. It also has a Website at edcrc.org.
Contact Dawn Hodson at 530-344-5071 or [email protected] Follow @DHodsonMtDemo on Twitter.