A Caring Community
Community Resource Center (CRC) was born from the community’s desire to help those facing homelessness and food insecurity. Today, 40 years since its inception, the organization continues to address these issues and has also expanded its services to support victims of domestic violence. Through its integrative programs and services, CRC is creating pathways to safety, stability, and self-sufficiency for the people who need it most. Join our conversation with CRC CEO John Van Cleef to learn more about how the organization works to lift others up.
Q&A with Community Resource Center CEO John Van Cleef
Please give us a brief history of Community Resource Center. When was it founded and why?
CRC was established in 1979 by local business, faith community, and civic leaders to respond to the social issues of food and housing insecurity. In 1994, it expanded its services to include providing emergency and transitional sheltering to survivors of domestic violence.
I often describe CRC as the child of this community’s compassion for its neighbors, and its capacity to do something to help.
What is the overall mission of CRC?
CRC’s mission is creating paths to safety, stability, and self-sufficiency for people who are hungry, homeless, and hurting. We do this because we believe all people should have equitable access to healthy food, stable housing, and safe homes.
Can you tell us about CRC’s domestic violence programs? How does CRC help victims?
One in three children, one in four women, and one in seven men experience domestic/relationship violence. CRC provides emergency sheltering for people who are fleeing domestic/relationship violence at Carol’s House, transitional housing for survivors of domestic violence, and licensed therapy for these survivors. CRC also does prevention education in local junior and senior high schools so we can help stop domestic/relationship violence before it starts.
At-A-Glance | John Van Cleef
Name: John Van Cleef
Education: BA in Business, MA in Theology
Family: Four children
Hobbies and Interests: Exercise, hiking, golf
Favorite Local Spots: Beach, Coastal Roots Farm, and any local restaurant
Carol’s House is a confidentially located emergency shelter for people who are fleeing domestic violence – women, children, and occasionally men – and available to people from the region, county, state, and country. In addition to safe shelter, Carol’s House provides residents with services like case management, legal advocacy, and licensed clinical therapy.
The Therapeutic Children’s Center serves children under the age of 18 who live at Carol’s House, one of our Transitional Housing units, or whose families participate in our off-site Transitioning to Independence program. The Center is an important place for Carol’s House residents because, at a very basic level, it provides a safe place for children to be children and play, but at a deeper level, it helps parents and children recover from the trauma of abuse through inter-generational therapy and support groups.
At-A-Glance | Community Resource Center
Please tell us about CRC’s integrative services and other programs.
Formerly known as Social Services, our Integrative Services is the connecting point between a person in need and the menu of interventions or referrals people need. It involves intake, assessment, case management, therapy, and follow-up. It connects people to resources like: food, rent, utility assistance, and government benefits, and also delivers the Opening Doors program – a feature program funded by the City of Encinitas.
Opening Doors focuses on placing previously homeless Encinitas residents in permanent housing. In addition to the funding from the City’s budget, CRC accomplishes these goals with a mix of public funding and private donations. We are currently in year four of the partnership. The program has served a total of 94 households and 138 individuals to date.
Which communities does CRC serve?
CRC’s primary service areas are the North Coastal communities of San Diego County, but the programs providing domestic violence intervention have county, regional, state, and national reach.
What is your current role within the organization and how did you first become involved? Please elaborate on your specific responsibilities.
I am CRC’s CEO, and started in this role in September 2018. Supported by CRC’s board of directors, staff members, and volunteers, I am responsible for providing leadership for CRC and making sure we continue to meet the needs of vulnerable people living in our community.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role? The most challenging?
The most rewarding aspect of my role is daily seeing the compassion and capacity of our community to help their neighbors in need through the programs and services CRC provides. I get to accept and steward generous gifts of time, talent, and treasure, as well as participate in the lives of people who need compassionate help.
The most challenging aspect of my role is also being a voice for community conscience – speaking up and advocating for subjects that are uncomfortable to acknowledge and address. one in five San Diegans don’t know where their next meal is coming from. 860 residents of Encinitas served by CRC identify as homeless. one in three children, one in four women, and one in seven men experience relationship/domestic violence.
25th Annual English Tea
April 4 • 1:30 – 4 p.m.
Encinitas Community Center
Includes a silent auction, raffle, short program, and tea
Can you tell us about CRC’s events throughout the year?
CRC has two fundraising events every year: English Tea (to be held this year on April 4) that helps increase awareness of our domestic violence programs, and Jingle & Mingle that features our Holiday Baskets program; both events raise funds for our year-round programs. We also host quarterly VIP events that provide updates on what’s happening at CRC, as well as bi-monthly Open Houses.
This year the English Tea will feature a silent auction, raffle, and a short program. Each guest will enjoy homemade tea sandwiches, scones and sweets, champagne, and tea. The program will feature keynote speaker Dr. Ami Roeschlein, a published clinician, consultant for the National Council for Behavioral Health, and CRC’s Clinical Supervisor, on the topic “What is resilience, and how does it build community?” She’ll share how the resilience of a community supports the resilience of an individual, how the community’s help creates pathways to new lives for survivors of domestic violence, and, most importantly, how we can continue providing survivors with the best possible support and treatment to help them thrive. This event sells out every year, so please don’t wait to purchase your ticket!
Holiday Baskets is a 37 year-old CRC program that provides food, clothing, and toys for families and individuals experiencing financial hardship during the holiday season. It’s designed to alleviate the additional financial stressors people experience during the holidays (for example, to pay for rent, utilities, and gifts) and help them keep up with their fixed expenses. People who benefit from Holiday Baskets are current CRC participants, or live or work in the North Coastal communities. The community can get involved by donating, sponsoring a food or toy drive, and volunteering time. More information is available at: crcncc.org/integrative-services/holiday-baskets.
Please tell us about CRC’s resale stores. Where are they located?
CRC has three resale stores in Encinitas, Carlsbad, and San Marcos. They are an important part of our business portfolio because they provide: social enterprise revenue that supports CRC programs, entry level and beyond employment opportunities for people, and necessary things like clothing and household items for CRC program participants.
What are CRC’s short-term and long-term goals?
Short-term, CRC is focused on: adapting programs to increase accessibility and impact; creating a staff and organizational development plan so we can be an employer of choice; and bring the best resources to bear on our community needs, sustainability of resources, and capacity building by addressing our business infrastructure (like accounting software and technology).
Long-term, we are looking at how to address our aging and dated buildings and property needs so we can provide the best possible service to people in our community. For example, most people don’t know we have clinical therapists on staff, and we need offices that are specifically designed for the service they provide to every socio-economic strata that exist in our community.
How can the community support CRC?
Learn about us through our website, our events, an Open House, or through an appointment. Figure out how your passion to give and CRC’s mission are aligned. Give your time. Give your talent. Give your treasure.
CRC recently celebrated its 40th anniversary. What is your biggest dream for CRC in the next 40 years?
That’s a big question…and if I’m fortunate I’ll be alive to see that. In one sentence, that CRC will continue to be this community’s expression of compassion and capacity to help its neighbors in need. In a long, run-on sentence: I hope the decisions we make today secure that future – adapting the delivery of our services to relevantly meet the needs of our vulnerable neighbors, affording people the opportunity to express their community-focused, philanthropic legacy through the establishment of capital trust and program endowments, the renovation/reconstruction of our current property on Second Street, as well as the expansion of our service locations.