Jim Costa visits Valley Crisis Center

mgaytan@losbanosenterprise.comSeptember 20, 2013 

Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno, paid a visit to Los Banos on Monday that included a stop at the Valley Crisis Center.

“I’m familiar with the important work they do here,” Costa said.

The VCC is headquartered in Merced but has a satellite office located in Los Banos that seeks to help domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The nonprofit organization is the only dual agency in Merced County, said Reina Nino, program coordinator.

Recently the center has experienced cutbacks and is seeking ways to find additional funding. Costa is looking for ways to support that need. The Los Banos office is open twice a week and has two employees on staff.

When Costa was first elected into office he created a crime victims caucus – something he works closely with, he said.

“And what we do is advocate for crime victims organizations. And every year we recognize crime victims organizations throughout the country,” he said.

The VCC is part of that.

“We’re going to see whether or not there’s any potential grant funding that would allow them to expand their service,” Costa said.

The VCC offers legal services, individual counseling, a confidential shelter for misplaced families, a 24-hour hotline, group and kids counseling.

In addition, Costa also wants to find funding for added shelter for victims and their families and even look at the potential for a Boys and Girls club.

“There isn’t anything like a Boys and Girls club here in Los Banos,” he said. “So we’re going to look at seeing if we can explore whether or not there’s any potential for something like that.”

The VCC also holds fundraisers throughout the year like the first Wings of Hope and Grace event that was held at the Los Banos Community Center Tuesday night.

“It went really well. We had a lot of donations, and sponsorship,” Nino said. “It was an awesome support. So many community members were there getting involved.”

Participants painted clay butterflies which will be displayed around downtown Merced, and hopefully in the Los Banos area, Nino said, to support National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The VCC doesn’t have the numbers figured out just yet, but they said they were really happy with the turn out.

“I would love to see it happen every year,” Nino said. “We’ve gone this far because of the community support we get, but we’re always asking for donations.”

Reporter Marina Gaytan can be reached at (209) 826-3831 ext. 6562 or mgaytan@losbanosenterprise.com.

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