Richmond organization lends helping hand through ‘wraparound’ services

West Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau strives to assist youth in need

Bay Area News Group

Published November 2015

Note: This story is from our 2015 campaign and has been fulfilled, but you can still donate to the Share the Spirit general fund.

It’s her day off, but Ronneysha Patton is already up by 7 a.m. and at the laundry by 8.

There’s a lot to do. After washing clothes, she heads home to do more chores: sweeping, yard work and folding piles of clothes. Soon, there will be lunch to prepare and homework to attend to before a visit from a relative later that evening.

Patton is only 23 years old, but she doesn’t have much time to just hang out with friends. Instead, the Richmond resident is raising her 9-year-old sister London after the death of their mother last March.

“I feel like I have to have everything together,” said Ronneysha. “I know I shouldn’t stress about it too much, but I don’t want her to feel like I can’t handle it.”

Ronneysha and London are being helped by the West Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau, a Richmond-based organization that offers “wraparound” services to an estimated 500 clients. That includes access to food, housing, counseling and other support through collaborations with local groups like the YMCA, Girls Inc. of West Contra Costa County and the school district.

The bureau also runs the Kinship Support Services program, which the Pattons attend, that assists relatives who are raising other family members’ children as a result of the parents’ death or incarceration.

The bureau has received funding for its holiday program this year from Share the Spirit, an annual campaign to enhance the holiday season for needy residents in the East Bay. The grant is administered by the Volunteer Center of the East Bay, and donations support more than 30 nonprofit agencies in Contra Costa and Alameda counties.

With the bureau’s help, London has also participated in Girl Scouts and a weekly Homework Club, and gone on camping trips, something she otherwise would never be able to afford.

“We want people to know that we are here and are providing a great service for our community,” said Naima Walls, program director at West Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau. “Our whole focus is collaboration.”

Ronneysha works part time as a dance teacher at Stege Elementary School, but it’s not enough for all the little extras that seem to pile up each month, like clothing, school supplies and the cellphone bill. She doesn’t like to complain or ask for too much, but things haven’t been easy since the two young women lost their mother to heart failure last year.

“One time I didn’t pay the cellphone bill so that London could have TV,” she said. “She loves watching competitions like ‘Dance Moms,’ ‘Step It Up’ and ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ “

Both sisters love to dance, and London is taking hip-hop classes at school. Ronneysha, meanwhile, dreams of opening her own dance studio one day.

Like all parents, she’s also learning how to balance being overly protective with letting London explore the world on her own. She worries when London walks to school alone, asking her to call when she arrives. She also makes sure London’s homework is done and her outfits laid out the night before.

“Sometimes I have to check with my relatives to see if I’m being too strict,” she says. “I’m learning.”

Her friends still call to invite her out, but Ronneysha has other priorities now. She is looking for full-time work so that she can afford the things she wants for herself and London, who is dreaming of a Razor motor scooter from Santa.

“I don’t want anything for myself, only for her to have an awesome Christmas,” she said.

How to help

The Share the Spirit campaign, sponsored by the Bay Area News Group, supports many local resources during this special time of year. Share the Spirit’s mission is to enhance the November/December holiday season for the most-needy residents of Alameda and Contra Costa counties by funding nonprofit holiday and outreach programs.

On donation page, please select
"West Contra Costa Youth Service Bureau"

Note: This story was fulfilled, but you can still donate to the general fund

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