The Shafter Press - Serving the community since 1922

By Jamie Stewart
The Shafter Press 

Grant saves Healthy Start

$800K from First 5 to keep doors open


December 26, 2019

Jamie Stewart | The Shafter Press

From left, Yadira Cadena, lead family advocate; Rosa Romero, RSD interim superintendent; Martin Rodriguez, RSD chief business officer; and Dr. Mayra Helo-Trevino, RSD director of student and family services and Shafter Healthy Start program director. They are with Kern 5's Paula de la Riva, First 5 Kern program officer; Ronald Maier, First 5 Kern executive officer; and Charlene McNamara, First 5 Kern administrative finance specialist.

With the majority of California schools and resource centers dealing with challenging budget cuts and uncertainty, the Shafter Healthy Start program received a much-needed boost from First 5 Kern, with a financial award of $800,000 to continue to serve the Shafter community from 2020 to 2025.

With the help of Program Director Dr. Mayra Helo-Trvino, the resource center applied for a very competitive grant to continue to serve communities. Helo-Trevino said, "This grant is so competitive that a couple of resource centers that, unfortunately, didn't receive the grant, are looking at the possibility of closing their doors."

Asked if Shafter would have had to face a similar fate if the grant had not happened, she commented, "Yes, we would have had to make some very hard decisions, including the possibility of shutting down."

Richland School District Shafter Healthy Start opened its doors in 2000 thanks to community support, according to Helo-Trevino. "Shafter Healthy Start supports families in the Shafter community and the surrounding small communities with basic services and other resources, in partnership with local and county organizations, to assist with the families' well-being."

There is also another program under its umbrella, the School Readiness Program, for children 4-5, which is not based on financial need.

Dr. Helo-Trevino thanked her staff, who she said were instrumental in the success of the program. They include Yadira Cadena, Margaret Ramirez, Monica Biggs, Evonne Martinez, Flora Quitoriano and Marixza Rodriguez.

In a sideline to the servitude of this organization, a local family was the recipient of their own Christmas Tree thanks to the Shafter Healthy Start and the Shafter Kiwanis Club. The Guaddaro family received a tree when their name was drawn. "We had a workshop here locally and everyone who participated in the workshop had their name put in for the drawing," Helo-Trevino said. "We also had a few other trees go to local families," all provided by an anonymous donor.


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