Collaborative assists underserved of the valley

Eric Simpson of Hopesters leads meeting of the Kern River Valley Bridge Connection

Photo and Story by Catherine Stachowiak

The Kern River Valley Bridge Connection (KRVBC) met Wednesday May 8, in Lake Isabella, to collaborate ideas to serve the underserved residents of the valley. 

The group brainstormed some ideas that members proposed would be good ways to serve the underserved of the community. 

Gary Ananian, founder of the Kern River Conservancy and board member of the Kernville Chamber of Commerce shared thoughts that bringing remote tech jobs to the valley from outside would be helpful and providing a tech job fair would be a good idea for the KRVBC to do.  “I think these job fairs that we keep having over here, I’ve attended some of them, and I’ve noticed that there’s a lack of youth going to them. My opinion is we’re not providing the youth here with the opportunities that the youth are desiring, tech jobs, remote jobs, videography, social media that they’re into,” he said. 

Chris Zuber of Kernville Cowork said he liked the idea of trying to make use of the skills of local youth by giving them opportunities for internships within the community for work experience.

Kat Barnum from America’s Job Center in Lake Isabella suggested that the KRVBC could benefit the community by providing a tire pressure event, sort of like a car safety check, with volunteers knowledgeable on the topic. Founder of the KRVBC Karen Zuber said checking windshield wipers, before storm season, and a carwash added to the event would be a good plan. 

Another idea Chris Zuber came up with was connecting the community with churches sharing Thanksgiving feasts and food distribution events, like a food awareness event.

Karen Zuber said the idea of organizing a Veterans Day Parade with the Kern River Valley Art Association, to honor vets, would be a good idea.

She also suggested that a December toy drive and distributing Christmas trees, winter clothing, and toys would be helpful to the community and maybe a September umbrella drive.  Gary Zuber co founder of the KRVBC said he was concerned about homeless people dying of exposure in the valley during colder months. 

Eric Simpson of Hopesters said he thought the KRVBC should work with Flood Ministries, giving the underserved items they need, but also encouraging homeless to go to Bakersfield where they can attain shelter.  

Other concepts the KRVBC came up with for assisting valley residents were gift baskets, meal delivery, activities to lower depression levels, help with home weatherizing, and help with pets possibly working hand in hand with animal rescue organizations. They also brainstormed the ideas of having a tree planting in honor of Arbor Day or Earth Day in April, providing Valentines cards for seniors that kids in the community could make, donating cards for homeless kids to distribute at school, reviving river safety events which Kern River Conservancy once planned, a fan drive for the elderly, finance classes and Halloween costume events with face painting just before trunk or treat events.    

Simpson said the KRVBC was planning on working toward networking with other nonprofits.