Humboldt County resource centers offer ‘bright spot of connection’

Eureka Community Resource Center Coordinator Brian Olson helps a community member with their social service benefits.

For Martha Shanahan, the five Providence-operated community resource centers (CRCs) in Humboldt County offer more than the crucial services provided in rural communities.

As the director of Community Health Investment for Providence Redwood Memorial and Providence St. Joseph hospitals, Shanahan oversees the CRCs, viewing them as “a bright spot of connection.”

“Isolation is real. It really affects mental health, and mental health affects physical health,” Shanahan said. “One of the main goals of the resource centers is to be responsive to what the community needs, but also to build community, to bring people together to prevent that social isolation.”

Each CRC offers non-clinical services such as referrals, employment information, transportation assistance, food security and nutrition programs, and parent and family support. Clothing and hygiene closets, community gardens and events are also staples, especially amid natural disasters.

The CRCs cater to what Shanahan refers to as “micro-communities,” and caregivers, volunteers and community partners tailor the CRCs’ services to meet each community’s specific needs.

The Eureka CRC, for example, serves the largest unsheltered population in the county. The site is unique for its partnership with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul to provide daily free lunch.

“The resource centers can act as community hubs where people can come together,” Shanahan said. “People can get connected to the supportive services they need where they live … It’s a really positive community-building experience.”

These kids are starting the school year off right with new backpacks from the Blue Lake Community Resource Center.