South Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center's mission is a straightforward concept — enabling individuals and families to achieve self-sufficiency and economic stability in order to contribute to the community — but the way the nonprofit goes about its execution is much more intricate and detailed.
The South Shore, school-based organization formed in 1992 with a variety of programs focused on empowering people to become active members of society.
"In the early '90s we formed as a community action network because of the need in the community — especially here in Bijou, which is where our facility is located and has the highest concentration of the Latino population here — to assist the Latino community as well as the low-income community that was underserved," said Bill Martinez, who has been the FRC executive director for the past three and a half years.
The nonprofit has since implemented its programs to focus on helping Latino and low-income families integrate into the community. They cover everything from providing basic needs like food and clothing to services focused on mental health, after-school student programs, parent support and education, English classes taught at Lake Tahoe Community College, bilingual counseling and more.
All services — whether therapy-focused, food-related or otherwise — are completely free for community members in need.
"Everything we do here is really important to the community and to the individuals who come in for the services. If there's a person who needs something to wear, or a person who comes in needing a loaf of bread because their food insecure, those are important.
"Counseling is important, social components are important — everything we do is meaningful to the community," said Martinez.
FRC's programs vary in terms of duration: After-school programs are only available during the academic year, but the food and clothing services continue throughout all 12 months.
Those who have received help from the nonprofit have noted its positive impact on their lives.
"FRC has helped [people] get more engaged in the community, to understand what's going on in the community at large, how to advocate for themselves, to advocate for children in the school system. Support systems are necessary to become more equipped to become self-sufficient," Martinez explained.
Thanks to a grant from Tahoe Women's Community Fund, the Family Resource Center will offer an all-new teen leadership program for middle school students this summer. Details are not yet solidified, but depending on funds the organization hopes to continue the program each summer here on out.
"We'll be the only teen program this summer that focuses on students, children and leadership activities. That's exciting for us," said Martinez.
Apart from grants, the nonprofit receives a majority of its funds from the Cinco de Mayo Festival, it's largest annual event. Recently coming off another year of hosting the May bash, the Family Resource Center attributes its success to the community members who attend.
"It's a great community event, low cost, and a way for the Latino community to engage in wonderful activities and show some of their history," noted Martinez. "The community has been very supportive of us, buying tickets, donating raffle and silent auction items, and we couldn't do it without their support."
While numbers from this year's festival have not been finalized, Martinez said they compare to previous years' raised funds.
Interested in donating or volunteering at one of FRC's summer programs? Visit http://www.tahoefrc.org for contact information and to learn more about the details of the organization's services.
FRC is open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. and is located at 3501B Spruce Ave.