The Monument Crisis Center in Concord has a well-deserved reputation as a caregiver for those in need. Since opening its doors 10 years ago, it has broadened its reach and increased its impact almost beyond belief.
"On the first day, we served food to 84 families from a single-room office," Executive Director Sandra Scherer said. "We now see about 100 new families a month and provide over 1 million meals a year."
The organization is best known for its food pantry, but that's far from the span of its services, which include after-school mentoring and tutoring programs for youngsters, counseling for at-risk teens, employment coaching for adults and senior social activities. The Crisis Center even partners with LensCrafters to provide eyeglasses for clients and helps arrange identification cards through the DMV.
Its mission is to support and comfort those who are struggling through hard times, all of which made last week's news difficult to digest. The Crisis Center was hit with its own little crisis.
Thieves broke into the building that will be the organization's new leased home -- the former Elegantouch Furniture store at 1990 Market Street -- stealing $18,000 worth of copper wire and tools belonging to the Fuller Construction crew that is doing the renovation.
"A lot of the tools were owned by our guys -- drill sets, hand tools, skill saws, roto hammers," said contractor Tim Fuller, "and the rest were owned by our company; things like concrete saws and electric jackhammers."
What especially saddened Scherer is the stroke of malice threw a pall over the tide of goodwill that has accompanied the move to larger quarters. The Crisis Center's unflagging corps of volunteers all have pitched in to keep relocation expenses to a minimum.
"The first day we had access to the building," said board member Jim Boyd, "we literally removed 12,000 square feet of carpet, all with volunteers. Took all the ceiling tiles down, too. The contractor thought it would take us three days -- we did it in one."
Volunteers have pitched in to sweep and haul trash. They removed trees to make room for a ramped sidewalk. Corporate donors such as Healy, Starbucks and Kaiser Permanente donated office furniture, and the contractor found ways to cut construction costs.
"It's such a community effort," said Scherer. "It's just been such a great project, so this was really hurtful to have this kind of thing happen because there's been so much pride in the work everyone is doing."
Among her misgivings, she said, is the Crisis Center had insurance only on the building, not its contents. The good news is she has already begun to receive emails, phone calls and monetary pledges of support.
The center faces a December deadline for moving into the new facility, which will include a food room, kitchen, kids room, conference room, lactation room and training center. That's when the lease expires on its current facility at 2350 Monument Blvd.
Fuller thinks his crew still can hit the deadline, once its gets retooled. Scherer crosses her fingers and prays he's right.
"I'm still hopeful," she said. "I'm always hopeful when it comes to the Monument Crisis Center."
Anyone wishing to help the cause can make donations by visiting monumentcrisiscenter.org or calling 925-825-7751.
Contact Tom Barnidge at firstname.lastname@example.org.