In 1974 the Pacifica Resource Center (PRC) was established as part of the EOC (Economic Opportunity Commission) under the direction of Ed Becks, County EOC Director. It was funded completely by the county. The PRC provided information and referral for people needing social services. Through county satellite services at the PRC, people could register for food stamps, welfare, and could visit a Public Health Nurse for well baby clinic and immunizations. In those early years, people in need could get food or shelter locally–shelter from the City PB&R Department (Salvation Army vouchers) or food through an organization at St. Peter Church, FISH.
In 1976-77, the County Board of Supervisors formalized the county commitment to the then six (now eight) Core Service Agencies, including the PRC by budgeting the agencies to provide information and referral, employment referrals, emergency food and clothes, and case management. FISH shifted its food pantry to the PRC.
When Proposition 13 took effect in 1978, the County welfare satellite office in Pacifica closed and County social services diminished, leaving big gaps in service to needy families. Mayor Nick Gust and Director of Parks, Beaches and Recreation Ginny Silva, were instrumental in developing a financial partnership with the County to close that service gap by solidifying support services at the PRC. In September of 1978, the PRC became part of the City of Pacifica. In 1980, San Mateo County shifted its funding of the PRC and the other Core Service Agencies from general revenue sharing to the county general fund to provide stability and confirm commitment. In the early 80’s, more resources flowed into the Core Service Agencies for housing, food, and utilities. San Francisco Chronicle began Season Of Sharing, a holiday fund drive, to help agencies through the nine Bay Area counties assist families with move in costs and delinquent rent; the Federal government allotted FEMA money for motel vouchers; State Emergency shelter vouchers provided food and shelter vouchers; Salvation Army began the utility payment assistance program within the Core Service Agencies; the Agriculture Department also began to distribute federal surplus commodities.
In the mid to late 80’s, the Core Service Agencies began screening and referring families to the first family shelter in the county (1984) and to the first singles shelter at the National Guard Armory in San Mateo in 1987. In fiscal year 1985-86, the County Board of Supervisors increased funding to the Core Service Agencies since programs were growing.
By the recessionary period in 1992 through 1994, the PRC was serving 1600 people (unduplicated) annually. In 1992, Director Jerry Kramer retired in March and Pat Paik began her tenure as director in June. She arrived just as the annex had been completed; the space expanded from 750 square feet to 1600 and the case workers had private offices in which to interview clients and protect their confidentiality. No longer were clothes placed outside on the sidewalk for people to pick through; one public room became the clothing room and the other the food pantry. Pat ordered office updated software and computers at the center even though they were castoffs from the Finance Dept.
By June of 1993, the county planned to completely defund all the core agencies by July. Concurrently, the City planned to save money by demoting Paik from director to case worker but to continue carrying out director assignment. The community outrage over both proposed actions resulted from community organizing by Board President Debbie Kiest and the entire Board. They activated phone trees and stood outside the two Safeways encouraging post cards to County Supervisors and phone calls to council Members. Board member Ada Tarkington spoke to the Board of Supervisors about the dire effects of cutting the PRC. Both Board of Supervisor and City Council reversed their decision 5-0. These two successful political battles taught the PRC Board members how to effectively tell truth to power and organize other community voices quickly. The subsequent boards got plenty of opportunities to practice these acquired skills.
In 1994 the Pacifica Tribune Editor started the Holiday Fund in partnership with the former Peninsula Community Foundation (now Silicon Valley Community Foundation). The PRC’s was $17,760 with donors designating the agency to receive funds. Then, in 1995, to save money, the City cut the receptionist position at the PRC to two part time positions. In 1996, a new City Manager restored the full time position saying that staffing change had been a faulty decision and false economy. That hiring process resulted in our current Direct Services Manager Marina Castellanos joining us as receptionist. That year the PRC also got one time funding from the County for an outside paint job and an inside modular furniture and new computers.
By July 1, 2003 one case worker position was cut from the PRC and by September, the City Manager and Council had decided to cut the PRC completely from the City budget. Silicon Valley Community Foundation, as the Peninsula Community Foundation, funded a consultant to work with Director Paik and a feasibility committee of five community leaders. The result of that three month research was to negotiate with the City for base funding of $83,000/year and to apply to become a project of Tides Center as a fiscal sponsor.
In January 2009, because of the deepening economic crisis, Silicon Valley Community Foundation funded a then part time 30 hr/wk case worker. After a slow start to hire this position, Case Worker Ann Cooney was hired in November 2009; as of January 2010, this position is full-time. Also in January 2010, Director Pat Paik retired and Anita M. Rees became the current Executive Director.
Since Rees began in January 2010, the PRC has leveraged resources from Second Harvest Food Bank, Safeway in Half Moon Bay, and Coastside Farmer’s Market to increase food assistance to Pacificans. In addition, the PRC hired a full-time Administrative Assistant with the support of federal stimulus funding; the Admin Assistant covers the front office so that Case Managers/Workers can focus on providing services. Currently, the PRC has raised 88% of its budget and intends on keeping its current staff structure to continue providing vital safety net services, as well as expand its programs to include economic security work, including free tax preparation services, financial support groups, and financial coaching.