CONCORD -- Two local organizations that have been committed to improving the quality of life of their constituents want to make an even greater impact.
The Michael Chavez Center for Economic Opportunity and the Monument Community Partnership have long collaborated, officially merging in 2012. The nonprofit that serves the primarily low-income population of roughly 40,000 who are living within Concord's Monument Corridor, has launched its cohesive logo and name: Monument Impact: Together, Building a Stronger Community.
"We're fully merged. The new name and logo are part of that lasting glue," says Nati Flores, day labor and civic engagement program director, who was inducted in the 2014 Women's Hall of Fame by the Contra Costa Commission for Women for promoting social justice.
"She's a tireless worker, working for the rights and fair treatment of people," says Concord City Councilman Edi Birsan, who nominated her for the award. "She's an asset to the community."
Monument Impact's cohesiveness is apparent when speaking with some of its constituents.
Jose Llocclla, an immigrant from Peru, has found consistent work through the day labor program while forging friendships, learning English and computer skills, as he and Monument Impact staff and other clients share different cultural traditions, languages and food.
As a result, the stress level and ensuing high blood pressure for the "patriarch" of the 50-member family, who remain in Peru and rely on his financial support, has dwindled.
"We make a difference in very tangible ways in their lives," Flores says.
Such commitment prevails, with the nonprofit's consistent push to mitigate any circumstance that would impede the residents reaching self-sufficiency, or hinders their potential for attaining success in mind, body and spirit.
This is achieved by Monument Impact's holistic approach in serving its constituents, including: providing extensive job training, child care, transportation and education programs for all ages; fostering civic involvement; and encouraging a healthy lifestyle through classes and its annual health fair.
"(This model) promotes sustainability," says Flores. "Wherever they move, they'll have that skill set."
Llocclla often cooks ceviche for the crew as a way to convey his gratitude, while his wife Ingrid has a job with the county, and their son, Jesus, 21, attends Diablo Valley College, with aspirations of being a doctor.
Meanwhile, Pedro Freyre, coordinator of the day labor program, has come to know the impact of word-of-mouth, as news of workers' positive reputations spreads quickly.
"We're accountable to the community and our members," he says, noting the familial feel he has toward the workers, whose sense of pride and solidarity are evident each year as they participate in Concord's Fourth of July Parade, proudly holding the American flag, or volunteering to set up for various community events.
"Impact means making a difference," says executive director Mike Van Hofwegen. "The name change helps convey that we're a new complete whole, and that makes us more effective ... We're in this for the long run, not just for the individual today ... We're making it possible for (our members) to invest more in their community."
To learn more about Monument Impact and its services, visit www.monumentimpact.org.