Friday, February 4, 2011

ESL Teachers Needed!

Starting in June 2011, the Chavez Center will be expanding its ESL class offerings.  We have had very successful ESL classes at the Chavez Center for years — 3 levels filled to capacity.  Now we find ourselves serving more people who are in need of English skills.  Language for many stands as a barrier in reaching long-term employment.  Help them to overcome these obstacles!

These new classes will be offered in the evenings.  Actual time and days are flexible according to teachers’ availability.  This is a unique opportunity to help create a new class, curriculum, and schedule — with the help and guidance of staff and ESL volunteers.

Requirements: Passion for working with the community and teaching English, experience teaching ESL, and commitment to developing this new program.  Spanish language is not required.

Interested volunteers should be able to commit to meeting with staff and volunteers between now and June to work out the details of the program. 

If you would like to learn more about this opportunity and get involved, contact Jacqueline at 925-682-8248 ext 2200 or e-mail

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Earn it! Keep it! Save it!

Need help filing your taxes?  We’re happy to help!
The Chavez Center, United Way and Mt. Diablo Housing Opportunity Center have worked together to bring trained tax preparers to you… for FREE!  With their help you will be sure to get quality advice and service.  The one on one service will walk you through ITIN Applications, W-7s, and other questions you may have about taxes.

Don’t wait until taxes are due!  Make an appointment or drop in today!
Tuesday: 4:00-8:00pm
Thursday: 4:00-8:00pm
Saturday: 12:00pm-4:00pm by appointment only

Bring a photo ID, Social Security Card or ITIN, any tax forms (W-2s, 2099s, 2098s, etc.), and last year’s tax return.  This helps the tax experts advise you and guide you through the process of filing your taxes for the best possible tax refund.
To qualify for this free service, your 2010 income must be less than $49,000.
For more locations offering free tax help, call 211 or 800-358-8832.  You can also find out more online at

Coming Soon: Chinches Training!

Chinches. No one likes them. Yet they seem to be running rampant across the nation. They find homes in your home, and in some areas they’re in just about every home. Not only that, but they are very difficult to get rid of. What are chinches? Most of us know them as bedbugs.

The recent outbreak of bedbugs across the nation has brought the issue to the front of the minds of many. For some, dealing with bedbugs is a daily battle, and just when you think you’ve gotten rid of them, they find their way back. Realizing this problem, the Chavez Center has been working with other community organizations including Mt. Diablo Housing Opportunity Center and Community Housing Partnership to develop of a bedbug extermination service.

In order to learn how to defeat the persistent pests, members of the new extermination service will undergo a thorough training. Program Manager Dave Thompson reported that the trainings will get underway in February and will take members from the basics to “their first practical work on an actual infested unit.”

To goal over the next several months is to eradicate the pesky chinches from low-income apartments in the Monument Corridor. At the same time, the members and project leaders will assess the feasibility of the service to continue as its own stand-alone business, creating new jobs and income for seven more community members.

Soon, thoughts of chinches will be limited to the traditional goodnight wish, “Sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite.”

Small Business, Big Difference

In January, Evergreen worked hard to bring a beautiful environment to a local school.  As a small business developed by the Chavez Center, work in the community such as this gets at the heart of what this social endeavor is all about.  Evergreen Cooperative finished their first landscape project of 2011 at Del Rey Elementary School in Orinda. Four cooperative members worked over eighty hours to convert a scrub filled landscape into a beautifully landscaped slope with drip irrigation and low maintenance plants. Under the generous guidance of Ben Contreras, a landscape contractor with over 30 years of experience, this project not only created an esthetically pleasing environment for the students but also provided the members with valuable training in completing a project from start to finish. If you have any landscaping needs, contact Evergreen today at 925-808-7865 or visit them online at

Evergreen Cooperativa terminó su primer proyecto de paisaje de 2011 en la escuela de Orinda, Del Rey Elementary. Cuatro miembros de las cooperativas trabajaron más de ochenta horas para convertir un jardín llena de matorral en una pendiente ajardinada con riego por goteo y las plantas de bajo mantenimiento. Bajo la tutela de Ben Contreras, un contratista del paisaje con más de 30 años de experiencia, este proyecto no sólo se crea un ambiente agradable estéticamente para los estudiantes sino que también proporcionó a los miembros con una valiosa formación en la realización de un proyecto desde principio a fin. Si usted tiene alguna necesidad de jardinería, póngase en contacto hoy con Evergreen en 925-808-7865 o visítelos en línea en

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chavez Center Hosts MCP Service Network Meeting

Like many nonprofits, the Chavez Center is constantly searching for ways to meet the infinite needs of each individual that walks through our doors.  Eventually we have to step back and realize that – try as we might – we cannot be everything to everyone.  But… We do know someone who can help!

Monument Community Partnership’s monthly Service Network Meetings are all about addressing this issue. By pulling together 48 different organizations that serve the Monument community, each organization learns about the others.  The relationships that we build form a security net that ensures that no matter what center or organization someone enters, they will end up at the right place and receive services they need.

On January 26, many of these organizations poured into the Chavez Center to share announcements, information, and ideas.  Despite the noisy hustle and bustle of programs underway at the Center, representatives from nearly 20 organizations found out information about human trafficking in Concord, brainstormed resources for immigrants, and discussed referring clients to each other. And best of all participants had time to network; making valuable and lasting connections. 

Community Violence Solutions presents their programs.
Service Network Meetings are the vision of Monument Community Partnership (MCP) to connect organizations to best serve our residents.  Participation in the MCP Service Network is a great networking and learning opportunity for any agency doing work in the Monument. The group focuses on capacity building, integration, and promotion of community wellness. It’s an opportunity to hear the successes of others, see real changes, learn what others are doing, and connect with those who complement our own services.  MCP facilitates speakers each month to discuss the many issues affecting the community and nonprofits in particular. From housing, food, and health to employment, violence and children, the list of issues that organizations strive to eradicate is long and ever-growing. MCP also strengthens our community by engaging residents as agents of change and fueling their leadership capacity so that they can make practical, enduring improvements to their own community.

While we realize that the Chavez Center cannot be everything to everyone, in partnership together we can.

 For more information about MCP or the Service Network contact Julie Mason.

The Power of Words

Just five students came to the Chavez Center seeking help in their job search.  They had felt as though they had been trying, but nothing was coming their way.  Were they missing something?

When they had heard that the Technology Empowerment program was offering resume workshops, they were quick to enroll.  Maybe this was the missing piece!  At the first class, students shared their stories – what they were looking for, where they came from, and what they hoped to learn.  From there the questions flew.  “How do I fill out an application?”  “Wait, how can you tell if it’s a scam?”  “Where are good job search tools?”  “What good is a resume?”  “What do you mean I should talk to my boss different from my friends?”  “Where can I take classes for my field?”  Though many of the questions did not pertain to resumes, they showed the dedication and obstacles that each of students was finding in their search.

Throughout the sessions, the five students uncovered their many talents and skills as they wrote out their resumes.  With the power of words at the finger tips, each of began to see what they could offer employers, captured in their resume.  From there, the confidence bubbled.  Suddenly, they felt that they had the words to put on their applications and the confidence to go meet with employers. 
On the final day they were sent off with a sharp resume and one last lesson on what to do next.  Walking out with heads held high, their enthusiasm and optimism had been rekindled. 
And after just a few months, the stories started trickling in…

Though she had never heard about the Chavez Center, Rosa was referred to us just a few weeks before the resume class.  Rosa had just moved to California, and found the job search much more difficult without her network of friends.  She hoped the resume might be the answer.  After the class, Rosa filled out an online application to Safeway, but received no response.  Taking her future into her own hands, Rosa marched down to the store, asked to see the manager, and presented him with her resume.  Just a few days later, Rosa started work.  “And it’s just two minutes from my house!” Rosa boasts with excitement.

Rosario had been coming to the Chavez Center daily – to practice computer skills and take classes.  She came to the workshop despite already having a resume just to see what she could learn.  She had her eyes set on a maintenance position with Kaiser.  As we saw her resume transformed, we also saw Rosario transformed.  Now she had another reason to visit the Chavez Center daily – job searches.  After just a few attempts, Rosario landed the job with Kaiser.  Though we miss the daily conversations with Rosario, we are happy to put up her picture as one of our success stories.

In its inaugural session, the resume workshops proved to play a big role in helping our members reach their employment goals.  Though we know that these aren’t the only tools.  Starting in February a new series of workshops is underway to take members from start to finish in preparing for landing that job.  The resume will just be one part of this amazing series.

Hope for the Holidays

In December, more than 120 students shared in celebrating their accomplishments together.  Excel students, basic students, and more cheered for one another as they received their graduation certificates.  Each student was beaming with pride as their friends and family watched them.

Following the presentation of awards, everyone stayed to enjoy a diverse, multicultural lunch.  Meanwhile students and teachers mingled retelling stories from the classes, giving advice, recounting what they had accomplished, and running on about what they planned to do next.  Many were continuing, others were going to look for work, and still others were moving on to pursue their other endeavors.

As the event wrapped up, Elba surprised the students one more time with a raffle for holiday gift baskets and a new computer.  With the winners decided, members and their families headed home to prepare for the holidays, but for one, more surprises were in store.
Having won the computer, Maria Douglas decided that she didn’t really need it.  “Give it to someone who really needs it,” Maria told Elba, a teacher and Technology Program Manager.  Elba immediately had the perfect person in mind.  The entire term, he had come to the Center to practice the lessons.  He had told Elba how much he had wanted a computer, but the price was just too much.  Just before the holidays, Elba called him and told him that his holiday wishes had come true.  Overwhelmed with gratitude and astonishment, Don Antonio picked up his computer. 

To many like Don Antonio, a computer is more than just the latest technology; it’s a gateway to a better, more hopeful future.