By Tracy Correa
BAKERSFIELD – The outdoor conveyor belt rolls by with a noisy hum as hurried hands move briskly separating aluminum, paper and other recyclables at the Bakersfield ARC this week.
It’s a day like any other here at the nonprofit organization that has earned a reputation as a major player in local recycling and provider of jobs for the developmentally disabled clients it serves. BARC’s 25-acre campus in Bakersfield is a major business hub. But along with providing employment, it also provides socialization and support for 420 clients and their family members.
PG&E recently acknowledged BARC by awarding the organization a $25,000 Economic Vitality Grant, part of a new grant program supported by shareholder funds to support the economic vitality of the communities served by the utility. The formal grant presentation took place Tuesday (Oct. 29) at BARC’s annual dinner and membership meeting.
“Giving people purpose, that’s what we do,” Jim Baldwin, BARC’s president said before the presentation. “And PG&E has been a huge supporter.”
Other grants awarded in Fresno, Tehama County
Bakersfield ARC is just one of 10 $25,000 grants – representing a total of $250,000 — being awarded this year.
The first was awarded two weeks ago to a nonprofit that helps Sacramento-area companies in the clean technology industry. PG&E’s Greg Pruett, senior vice president of corporate affairs, announced the grant at the Sacramento Regional Technology Alliance (SARTA) annual conference.
On Friday (Oct. 25), PG&E representatives awarded one of the grants to the Fresno Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) to provide technical training and assistance, and financing to low- and moderate-income entrepreneurs throughout the San Joaquin Valley. San Joaquin Mayor Amarpreet Dhaliwal and Fresno City Council Member Oliver Baines, who attended the event, also are CDFI board members.
And today (Oct. 30), PG&E representatives presented the grant to the Upstate Economic Development Council at the organization’s board meeting held at the Rolling Hills Casino in Corning. Upstate EDC will use the money for an Ag Expo to be held in Tehama County next year designed to bring growers and producers together with buyers. PG&E’s Josh Townsend, economic development manager, represented the company and talked about its support of economic development and job growth. County Supervisor Bob Williams and other community members attended the event.
Bakersfield ARC creating jobs
Job creation is a significant part of the mission at Bakersfield ARC — the acronym once stood for Association for Retarded Citizens, the reference has since been abandoned. The organization is focused on the abilities of clients it serves, said Mike Grover, senior vice president and chief programs officer. Part of this is being able to show the value of hiring them. “We can’t go out and expect others to hire them if we don’t,” he said.
BARC is home to a vast and growing array of industries that help provide income and programs designed to enrich the lives of clients. About 385 of BARC’s clients are also employees working at one of the industries, the largest of which is recycling; BARC handles about one-third of what the City of Bakersfield picks up. Tire recycling was recently added this year with the shredded remains being used for fuel.
Community support is crucial for BARC, which receives only about 40 percent of its funding from government sources.
Baldwin said BARC will use some of the PG&E grant to expand marketing and education for the recycling program. “We are helping companies go green,” he said, noting that BARC is now handling recycling for PG&E offices in Bakersfield.
PG&E’s Kristen Doud, a Bakersfield-based community relations representative, talked about BARC’s local impact and the reason it was awarded the $25,000 grant at the organization’s annual dinner on Tuesday. “When we at PG&E see an entity like BARC creating jobs and pumping life into our region’s economy in innovative ways, we want to support it however we can,” she said.
More than 100 people attend ARC’s annual dinner, including Assemblywoman Shannon Grove who was awarded the organization’s Dr. Michal Clark award for her advocacy on behalf of persons with disabilities in the State Assembly. Bakersfield ARC clients also received perfect attendance awards at the event, including one man who hasn’t missed a day in 24 years and has worked at the facility for 41 years.
Email Tracy Correa at firstname.lastname@example.org