Kings County Resources

Kings United Way and Kings Community Action Organization

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Kings United way

I met with the executive director Nanette Villarreal, who will be celebrating eighteen years with KUW, to chat about Kings United Way and what they do for our community this week. I stopped by the office at 125 W. 7th St. Hanford CA 93230 located downtown. 

First known as the Hanford aid society and then the King’s aid society, Kings United Way has been a fixture in our community since 1966. 

“Originally an organization that ran work placement campaigns and raised money exclusively for charities, Kings United Way has grown exponentially since its founding decade. We do a lot of other things now that we’ve added some things to our portfolio.” Villarreal added “ I think of our organization as one with four buckets. First,we have what we call the capacity building support bucket. This is where we build support for non-profits and help leaders attain money and resources, providing training as well.

The next bucket is the Regional Homeless Management information system. This is a database where all homeless service providers enter client level data. All the information about our homeless population is entered into the database which is managed here in this office. To receive HUD funding you have to participate in this RHM database. The third Bucket is our newest program, the Kings County Referral Exchange. This is a bi-dirrectional referral platform. When I started in non-profits in the eighties, I had to hand write referrals for clients. This platform directly sends the client information to the resources rather than having a longer wait due to the paper format.” Villarreal continued “The last bucket is the 211 information  program. Searching 211kingscounty.org, dialing 211 or texting 898211 directs you to the resources and services that can fit your needs. There is a monthly food calendar available through this service. Our service is Bilingual for Spanish and English full time and has access to over 150 languages through the call center.” 

The  cooperative events or programs KUW works in tandem with community members that Villarreal highlighted were as follows:

  • Annual Turkey Trot
  • Serve day with local churches
  • Shut-in senior care packages 
  • Survival-based supply collections for the homeless

Villarreal explained “ We try to anticipate the actual needs of the homeless community members rather than what we think they might need, so our team focuses on survival based resources. Sleeping bags, warm socks and insect repellant, the things that will help to prevent illness or injury. We are in partnership with private citizens who actually go out to the encampments and distribute the supplies and help us address the real needs.”


Kings Community Action Organization

The interview I had with Jeff Garner{Executive Director}and Sazino Perico {Community Development Manager} took place this week over the phone. We spoke about the mission of Kings Community Action Organization and what this organization has done for the community since 1965.

Garner stated “We are a team. We work as a team internally and with our community members to make this community a better place to live.” Garner continued “We seek and provide services and programs to help establish and maintain self sufficiency to improve economic standing for clients.” 

“ The resiliency of this agency, its staff, volunteers and board members through the COVID-19 pandemic is something I want to highlight. Of our 245 team members each brought their best to pull through. No matter how tall the mountain we climb it to help our community” Garner proudly shared. 

Perico has been with the agency for ten years. “I started as a volunteer. I worked with youth and adults helping with the Tax program VITA, and now I am in this position. I work with our social media and community outreach. I love that I can see people In my community grow and gain that self-sufficiency. I celebrate their successes.”

“ I love helping the community I grew up in. There’s a connection to all of us with KCAO. If you don’t need resources or services you can still connect to us as a provider or volunteer.” Said Garner of his time in Kings Community Action Organization.

Some Programs available through KCAO

As our conversation ended Garner said “We try to meet families where they are at with the goal to real self-sufficiency and help them every step of the way, be that a long or short journey”

KCAO is hoping to build a new food bank that will offer cooking classes, nutrition education and prepared meals, as well as a pantry for assistance in the next year or two.

As always be safe and have fun,

Kenzi

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