Bridge Connection founder speaks at Chamber

Karen Zuber founder of Kern River Valley Bridge Connection

Story by Catherine Stachowiak 

President of Bank of America for Kern County, local Karen Zuber spoke at the Kern River Valley Chamber of Commerce meeting, Wednesday April 10.  

She told the chamber that as market manager for her position in Bakersfield she was able to support philanthropic projects in Bakersfield on behalf of her company where her work is located. But she wanted to support the community of Kern Valley, which was the reason she and her husband Gary Zuber founded the Kern River Valley Bridge Connection (KRVBC)

KRVBC is in the process of seeking a permanent location to bring resources to the community because the organization started various popup events to assist the community. “We’re opening a building for non profits to come together,” she said.

A recent popup event KRVBC held was an Addiction and Recovery pop up event at the library.  Another event was a collaboration hunger event with Cap-K at the Senior Center. KRVBC also helped plan the Kern County jobs recruitment and testing at the Veterans Center. Another event the KRVBC recently helped plan was for the Kern County Community Foundation for students to learn about scholarships.  KRVBC also planned collaboration for senior support at the Senior Center.

Zuber stressed the fact that the KRVBC does not plan to start a homeless shelter. 

She said, “Because of my role with Bank of America I have tons of connections down in Bakersfield because of 8 years of philanthropic support to the community.”  

Membership of the KRVBC includes about 70 people from many organizations working together to assist the underserved of the valley.  “Is it a shelter? No. Are we building a shelter? No,” she said.  

The planned facility would include a navigation center on one side.  There, the KRVBC Navigation Center would direct the homeless to resources in Bakersfield where there are more services for the homeless.    

The KRVBC already has a buyer to purchase the building for the organization’s facility.  “The Kern River Valley is bridging connecting us to Bakersfield,” she said.  “This is actually a fantastic thing that’s happening in the community. It’s not a cost. It’s not a burden.”

The KRVBC holds meetings monthly, the second Wednesday of the month, at 10:30 before the chamber meetings.  

They’re holding a fundraiser with nonprofit partners and philanthropic organizations possibly in early May.