Home of Neighborly Services Hosts Resource Thursdays
By Dianne Anderson
At her home away from home, when Joyce Payne looks at the Home of Neighborly Services building, she sees Westside’s majestic structure, perhaps more beautiful today than the day it was built nearly 100 years ago.
To her, it is San Bernardino’s “Gray Lady” of historic proportions, one that simply can’t be replicated in the city.
More than that, it represents the heart of the community.
“Think about it, what else is over there? It has stood the test of time, which is why we’re so dedicated to make people understand that when you have needs, this is the place where you can feel safe to come,” said Payne, vice president of the board for Home of Neighborly Services.
For those that make their way inside the slightly medieval community center, they can access several programs and an ongoing food distribution every Friday, compliments of the Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County Food Bank.
“We couldn’t ask for a better partnership,” she said.
She said that nutritional education and informational workshops are a strong part of their programming. They also host featured speakers on “Resource Thursdays” covering all the community’s hot topics, such as help with preschool services, WIC access, immigration help, or other programs the community may not be aware of.
On October 17, they are hosting a resource event with Housing Authority information and a special focus on homelessness and veterans. On the Westside, Payne said many veterans don’t access available resources.
“A number of them feel frustrated with the social system,” she said. “They go for services and are treated as though they are trying to get over, playing a game. We have that contact to make them feel valued.”
Inside the building also received a facelift. She commended Joseph Williams of Youth Action Project, for mobilizing local unions, that brought out volunteer craftsmen to lightly revitalize with upgrading.
There is much more work to be done to bring the structure back to its glory days, but she hopes that with grant funding, she can maintain the ambiance of the building.
Originally, the building was under the purview of the Presbyterian church, and although there is a church next door, the premise was not an actual church, she said. The idea then, as now, was to get services and information out more broadly to the community.
“My frustration is that they have a preschool across the street at the old Boys and Girls Club, probably 90% of the young women we deal with didn’t know about it. There’s just so much that they don’t know,” she said.
In November, they are hosting a diabetes class in partnership with Dignity Health. They will host a special distribution for Thanksgiving, and Christmastime marks their third year of giveaways.
“We have giant bags with toys for the kids, plus a meal and food for them to take home. We have Santa and the fire department comes to help support us,” she said.
As time goes on, she hopes to draw more from the community and revitalization grants to help sustain programming. Volunteers and their board serve in several capacities to keep things going, and she said they are worth their weight in gold.
Only two years old, the board is relatively new. Before that, she said the building and programs became neglected. The goal now is to provide help for the people and preserve the historical landmark.
“I believe in maintaining history, that’s where you get the groundwork for what you have now,” she said. So much of what we call the highlight of the Westside evolved from this home,” she said.
For any questions on Home of Neighborly Services, call 909.885.3492.