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Championing a Community's Well-Being

In the Richman Neighborhood Center, a wellspring known as the Center for Healthy Neighborhoods has restored a sense of community. Developed in partnership with the city of Fullerton, the center opened in January 2016 and offers culturally appropriate services that promote health, education, college readiness and resilience among children and families.

“Cal State Fullerton and the city are working together to revitalize neighborhoods and to increase the economic outlook of a community,” said C. Jessie Jones, the center’s director and professor emeritus of kinesiology. “We want to reduce the cycle of poverty and have students, faculty and community members working together toward that common goal.”

Youth and family programs, health screenings, mental health services, case management and resource referrals are offered for free or at a reduced cost. One of the programs, Resilient Families, focuses on enhancing parenting skills, managing stress and improving parent-child bonding. Christine Bondiek, who is pursuing a B.S. in human services, participated in the program in spring 2016.

“I learned just as much as the children about being mindful, but the more valuable personal development was the experience of helping these families and bonding with them,” explained Bondiek. “Working together with someone for a common goal opens doors and builds bridges for both sides to come closer.”

“Students are able to get work experience and interact with other students from different disciplines,” said Jones. “It also prepares them to be more culturally competent — and they often serve as role models in the community.”

Former State Assemblywoman Marilyn Brewer, a member of the Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation Board of Governors, has pledged ongoing support for the initiative. “I support the Center for Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative because it makes a huge difference and impacts the lives of local youth,” she explained.

With a growing wait list, largely due to word-of-mouth, the center wants to extend its reach by offering the Resilient Families and other model programs to more community centers around Fullerton.

To find out about investment opportunities at the Center for Healthy Neighborhoods, contact Elizabeth Eastin, director of development for the College of Health and Human Development, at 657-278-5466 or eeastin@fullerton.edu.