As Fresnans, generally we know we are lucky to live in a place that allows us to enjoy the benefits of being just a short drive away from both the beautiful beaches of the Central Coast and the stunning Sierras and Yosemite National Park, while enjoying a relatively low cost of living, by California standards. However, despite the great cost of living the Valley affords, there are still numerous individuals and families that deal with poverty, experiencing homelessness, addiction, domestic violence, and other barriers to living a happy and fulfilling life. Knowing this, made me very excited to learn of something incredibly innovative happening in the heart of Fresno, to help those experiencing hardships and in need of real help – and when people come together to do great things for the most at-risk members of our community, it makes me even prouder to call myself a Fresno resident.
The Fresno Mission has long been a provider of housing, counseling, substance abuse counseling, and programs for women and children in Fresno. They also provide spiritual counseling, academic programs, and vocational training – and now they’re doing even more. The Fresno Mission is leading the way on the construction of a 9-acre campus that will include over 180,000 square feet of buildings housing a wide range of services, all with the goal of helping people experiencing their toughest moments.
This center will be called the City Center (as it is located nearly in the exact center of Fresno) and seeks to provide a pathway out of crisis for people and families.
The Center will house not just the services of the Mission, but also those of 20 different non-profit and faith-based organizations The Central Valley Food Bank will offer meals through the Free Choice Market, The Fresno Police Chaplaincy will operate their mental health & wellness program The Resiliency Center on site, Aspen Charter Schools will offer educational programs focused on serving foster youth. The Family Healthcare Network will offer a 7,500 square foot family health clinic, and on-site childcare will ensure the safety and enjoyment of children while their parents receive the assistance they need.
The City Center’s approach will prioritize two things for each individual it serves: dignity and relationship. The Center seeks to truly get to know each person, one-on-one, and offer compassionate and respectful care in an environment that is comforting, aesthetically pleasant, and welcoming. In an intro video, Fresno Mission CEO Matt Dildine describes that when a person arrives at the City Center’s front door, they won’t take a number and a seat in a cold waiting area, but instead “be greeted with a warm gourmet coffee and heart.”
Additionally, the Center will serve as a place for all of Fresno to enjoy and take pride in, offering a large playground, event centers, emergency housing for families of up to ten members that rivals the amenities of a nice hotel, vs. a shelter, and places to worship.
The City Center is scheduled to open later this year and is sure to be one of the most innovative and comprehensive centers for human services in the country – and we get to see the benefits of the great work for those who need it most, right here in our community.
To learn more about the Fresno Mission’s City Center, including ways you can get involved or support their work, with their website here. I highly encourage everyone to view their intro video, which is above but will also pop up on their website’s landing page as well.
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