The CRC - Empowering Community
By Marina Kiriakou -
Situated in the heart of the Village of Mamaroneck, the Community Resource Center (CRC) has been dedicated to empowering our diverse community for 25 years. We recently had the privilege of meeting with Jirandy Martinez, the organization’s enthusiastic Executive Director, to gain insights into their mission and the exceptional team that drives its success. Stepping into their offices feels like joining a close-knit family; the staff exudes warmth and hospitality, fostering a can-do atmosphere of productivity.
CRC's mission is to empower immigrant and low-income families by equipping them with the resources and advocacy they need to become self-reliant and thriving members of the community. Although they originally began as the Hispanic Resource Center, their unwavering commitment to inclusivity and their embrace of individuals from all walks of life now form the core of their work.
Martinez articulates their vision: "Our goal is to embrace diversity and create opportunities for all of our residents." Their impact is profound, as evidenced by the following insights that underscore the vital role CRC plays in supporting and empowering our local community:
1. Grassroots Leadership: CRC empowers individuals to become community leaders, offering training and support to ensure that local voices and perspectives lead decision-making and outreach efforts.
2. Building Trust: Building trust within the community is a central focus for CRC. Trusted community leaders prove more effective at reaching and mobilizing community members, which has translated to quicker and more impactful responses during times of crisis, such as the recent storms.
3. Addressing Essential Needs: CRC's comprehensive approach to social services encompasses ongoing support, including food assistance, workforce development and training, adult education, youth enrichment, GED and citizenship programs, and case management.
4. Advocacy and Organizing: CRC engages in advocacy and organizes efforts to address systemic issues, such as affordable housing and workers' rights.
5. Collaboration and Partnerships: A cornerstone of CRC's strength lies in its partnerships with over 50 community organizations through the Coalition for Community. Martinez notes, "These collaborations have created a network of support that ensures we can meet the needs of our people.”
In the wake of Hurricane Ida, the Community Resource Center's headquarters at 134 Center Avenue suffered devastating flood damage. As they await the completion of new construction at their original site, they temporarily relocated their administrative office and operations to St. Thomas Church at 168 West Boston Post Road. This decision to rebuild at their site came after careful consideration with their board, staff, and clients. Martinez underscores the importance of staying close to their community, stating, "The fact that so many returned to the Flats really spoke to us. Despite the continued risk of flooding, they came back home. This is the reality of where we live, so we must adapt."
To address the recurrent flood issue, CRC has collaborated with local architects and contractors to implement proper flood mitigation measures. These measures include elevating the entrance, sealing vulnerable windows to prevent water infiltration, and preparing for the possibility of future flooding. Acknowledging the reality of their location, they have proactively ensured that their space will be more resilient.
Martinez emphasizes the urgency of addressing climate change, noting, "Climate change is real. Whatever happens moving forward, our hope is that we can resume activities quickly after storms, ideally within a week or two, rather than the months we have seen in the past." A dedicated rebuild committee has laid out plans to move mechanical systems to higher ground and employ flood-resistant materials. Martinez concludes, "We're excited to return to our home next spring and expect to expand our offerings by 20% to better serve the needs of our community. In the face of the floods, even more people have come to know us and look to us as partners."
CRC's unwavering commitment to building bridges, nurturing leadership, and fostering a sense of belonging is what makes them a beacon of hope in our community. They remind us of the power of unity, compassion, and a shared mission. To learn more about CRC's programs and how you can get involved, please visit their website HERE.