How the Community Resource Center (CRC) Is Rebuilding Its Future
By Linnet Tse
The Community Resource Center, which has provided critical services to our community since 1998, was devastated by Hurricane Ida just over one year ago. At the Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit’s October 11 monthly program, the CRC’s leadership shared a look back over the past year and a look forward to the future it is planning.
CRC Executive Director Jirandy Martinez reminded the audience that it was just over 13 months ago – September 1, 2021 – that Hurricane Ida swept through Mamaroneck, displacing 1,000 people, flooding 535 homes, and causing $18MM in losses alone in the first week. Many families lost everything. The CRC’s home at 134 Center Avenue took in 14 feet of water, seriously damaging both their main building and the Worker Center and displacing them.
Martinez described how, despite the CRC’s own losses, the dedicated staff aided local families while working from temporary space generously provided by St. Thomas Church. Nearly 300 families were given emergency financial assistance between $500-$5,000 per family; support was also provided in a variety of other ways, including helping clients with FEMA paperwork, assisting with housing needs, and helping replace clothing, furniture, appliances, and other items lost in the flood.
While the CRC has resumed most of its programs and services, thanks to temporary space provided by several community partners including St. Thomas, the Mamaroneck Public Library, and the STEM Alliance, Luis Zarate, Deputy Executive Director, pointed out that there have been a number of challenges.
In their borrowed spaces, there is often little or no private space for clients who need confidentiality in matters involving domestic violence, immigration issues, and wage theft, as examples. In addition, the location of some of their temporary space has also been further away from the community, making access difficult. Finally, Zarate explained that there was a trust factor to contend with. Clients are less likely to attend programs in a location unfamiliar to them. As a result, Zarate said that they are still working to rebuild participation levels in some of their programs.
Operating out of temporary space for the past thirteen months has made the CRC leadership team and Board of Directors acutely aware of how much they need their own space. Board member and Rebuild Committee member Leonard Aubrey, shared that the Rebuild Committee, comprised of four board members along with Jirandy Martinez and Luis Zarate, established three project priorities after extensive discussions with stakeholder groups, including municipal leaders. These included: 1) ensuring continued easy access by their clients; 2) ensuring sufficient space for growing and planned new programs; and 3) affordability while achieving significant protection from future flooding.
According to Aubrey, the Rebuild Committee considered three options: 1) selling the existing building and relocating; 2) elevating or adding a second floor to the main building at the current site; and 3) maximizing flood protection for existing facilities at the current site. After extensive research, the Rebuild Committee has recommended the third option. Aubrey noted that this option meets the committee’s priorities and is more affordable compared to the other options.
Planned flood mitigation measures include moving the main entrance up from the current ground level to the first floor, above the base flood elevation; relocating the new mechanicals and generator to the roof of the walkway that will connect the main building and the Worker Center; rebuilding the basement using materials recommended by FEMA for flood mitigation; and blocking the seven basement windows that were a major source of water infiltration during Ida. The plans will also include some enhancements and health and safety improvements including adding plumbing to the Worker Center.
Aubrey shared that the project costs are estimated to be between $1.7 and $2.0 million, with over $900,000 committed/identified. The largest sources of the committed/identified funds include government grants and loans, individual donors, and foundations and community organizations. Their goal is for the CRC to be able to move into their rebuilt space by the end of 2023.
Nicole Tuck, Director of Development, invited audience members to be part of the CRC’s rebuild journey by supporting their upcoming Gala on Thursday, November 17 at Beach Point Club. Funds raised from the event will go towards the rebuild. The event will honor the Rev. Tami Burks and St. Thomas Episcopal Church.
In closing, Jirandy Martinez thanked the entire community for its support of the CRC and the Mamaroneck flood victims and especially St. Thomas Church, whose facilities the CRC continues to use for its operations.
The Larchmont-Mamaroneck Local Summit is an informal community council that seeks to make a better life for the community by keeping it informed of major issues of concern. The next Zoom program, co-hosted with LMC Media, will be on Tuesday, November 8th at 8:00 am and will look at how our community is responding to student mental health issues. Visit the Local Summit online: https://www.localsummit-lm.org/ LMC Media: https://lmcmedia.org/.