By Gloria Chavez-Martinez
Catholic Charities’ Hope in the City Family Resource/Homework Center in San Bernardino is a place where children and their parents find a supportive gathering of neighbors and friends. The Center provides a safe haven for children during the critical afterschool hours, when research shows that students have the least supervision.
Tutors are students from California State University, San Bernardino, as well as Hope in the City students who were previously in Catholic Charities “After School Tutoring Program” and have now graduated high school. They help with homework, provide mentoring, and supervise outside activities. The Center is a hub for families with school-age children and probably best known for its after-school and tutoring program, but it’s much more.
“It’s hard for kids to do well in school when they are hungry,” said Hope in the City Program Manager Raquel Welsh. “We provide evening dinners to students and their parents during the last week of the month when resources run low. The dinners help stretch our families’ budgets and create a place for families and kids to come together and share a hot meal.”
Raquel is a lifelong resident of San Bernardino and has worked at Catholic Charities for almost a decade. She has seen a generation of youth grow up and move on. She cares for the children at the Center with the same compassion that she has for her own children. She is an encouraging voice to parents who are struggling to provide for their children in the best way possible, often under very difficult circumstances. The Center is a place where they can find support, resources, and caring assistance.
Raquel leads a morning hiking group that meets two to three days a week and hikes in the San Bernardino foothills. After the morning walks, the group members come back to the Center and make healthy juice smoothies. Guest speakers are regularly scheduled to teach nutrition classes that focus on things like, “How to create healthy meals with limited time and on a budget.” There is also a Coupon Club that shares and uses coupons to stretch resources. Families work together to plant and harvest fresh vegetables in a community garden. The garden provides produce that are often hard to find, or are expensive in a grocery store.
“We support each other in order to stay healthy and active,” said Welsh. “Many parents have been diagnosed with diabetes or as being at-risk. Nutrition and exercise are important for our well-being.”
Hope in the City is a place of caring collaboration. Recently, with the support of Catholic Daughters, young women who are pregnant or who have infants were invited to a community baby shower in their honor. Young mothers received gifts, many handmade by people who support the ministry, for their babies. The gifts go a long way to demonstrate compassion and mercy for young mothers who can greatly benefit from the love and wisdom imparted by older women in the community.
Hope in the City Family Resource Center is a vital resource for families and children in San Bernardino. The space is provided through the generosity of Community Hospital of San Bernardino. Catholic Charities administers the programs with the support of its donors and community partners. If you would like to support the Center, please contact Beverly Earl, Catholic Charities’ Director of Family and Community Services in San Bernardino County at (909) 880-3625.