Yucaipa Community Services thrive in spite of COVID-19 setbacks

Some classes and activities were held during COVID-19 at the Yucaipa Community Building on Oak Glen Road. 

During the regular Yucaipa City Council meeting on Sept. 27, Director of Community Services Megan Wolfe requested the city council receive and file the 2021 Community Services Department (CSD) Update Report.

Wolfe said, “A few months ago the Development Services Department was here providing an update and this evening it is my turn.” 

“I am excited, with me tonight is the backbone of the Community Services Department and this is your three Community Services Supervisors, Sarah Martinez, Mary Johnson and Nick Johnson. In addition but not with us this evening are the arms and legs of the department and those are our three Community Service Coordinators, Margo, Elise and Marcus. In addition, tomorrow we will be opening two full-time community services coordinator positions that were frozen. Finally we have one full-time administrative assistant that is the brains of our operation who helps us complete all of our payments and day-to-day tasks. This structure will bring us back to the pre-pandemic structure of the Community Services Department,” said Wolfe. 

Along with those mentioned, over 140 part-time staff members are employed in various different divisions throughout the department. “We are thankful for their passion and commitment to this community,” said Wolfe.

Programs are made up of several divisions including 1) The Crossing Guard program is in partnership with the Yucaipa-Calimesa Joint Unified School District (YCJUSD) and is at seven school site locations with eight part-time crossing guards at six locations in Yucaipa and one location in Calimesa.  

2) The Sports division provides various recreational sports programs and special health related activities for people of all ages. This year a basketball camp was held with 122 children participating. A new addition will be a Pee-Wee Spring Sports Program. 

3) STARS before and after school program, representing science, technology, arts, recreation, (for) success was created to focus on homework assistance, academic enrichment and in collaboration with the YCJUSD to meet the needs of students during the academic year. Normally held on nine separate campuses, during COVID, it was conducted at the community center and helped students with online learning. This school year attendance is averaging 435 students per week. 

4) The Camps Division provides camp programs for children in grades TK (Transitional Kindergarten)-8. Due to social distancing regulations, it was only offered from TK-6 with a total of 319 students with an average of 40 campers per week. A fall camp is being planned for parents who work to bring their children for non-academic holidays. 

5) The Aquatics Division is responsible for the operations of the Seventh Street Park Municipal Pool and joint use programming at the Crafton Hills College Aquatics Complex. The division provides seasonal recreational swim, swim lessons and various aquatic activities including recreational swim, family fun nights, and Aqua Aerobics. These drop-in programs this summer had 1,536 participants. American Red Cross learn to swim lessons were given at the Aquatics Complex with 904 participants taking swim lessons this summer. Due to the COVID pandemic, public pools such as Seventh Street were not permitted to offer recreational swimming according to county and state guidelines, but were able to rent the pools for private events. On June 14, the county lifted the requirements. The city still had the largest number of rentals in years with a total of 58.  

6) The Special Events Division provides free events that bring the community together. The three events this year were for the Fourth of July, concerts in the park, and movies in the park. There was an average attendance of 450 people at the concerts. Upcoming events will be the Autumnfest in the Historic Uptown and Winterfest. 

7) The Senior Services Division covers activities at the Scherer Community Center. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Senior Center has been closed. It is currently being used as a COVID-19 vaccination and testing site; therefore, limited senior programs are being offered at this time. Programs that are being offered are the weekly meal distribution for seniors by the Family Service Association. USDA Commodities program and senior exercise classes which are being offered at the Yucaipa Community Center. 

8) The Community Center division continues to be the hub of activities in the center which is open six days a week and offers contract classes including tennis, karate, cheer, ballet, yoga and essential oils. Also being offered are drop-in sports including pickleball, volleyball, basketball and racquetball. The community center and the shelters have had 228 rentals since January 2021.

In May of this year, the YPAC reopened to the community following the COVID-19 closure. Yucaipa was the first city in the county to open and provide programming to the public at the performing arts facility. Several events and rentals took place including weddings, date nights, paint nights, awards ceremonies, school promotions, the high school dance, a murder mystery dinner, community breakfast, comedy night, rentals for a birthday parties, rentals for a funerals, dance festivals and a quinceañera. 

A U.S. Small Business Administration Shuttered Venue Operators Grant was applied for and on July 12, $202,364 was awarded to the city to provide economic aid to its shuttered entertainment venues. The grant funds received will be used to cover lost revenue from FY21/22 at the YPAC. 

For revenue, the YPAC currently has four contract classes: Yucaipa Rockin’ Youth Studio, Rockin’ Private Lessons, Elements and Young Artist Academy and the Farmer’s Market which is held every Friday in Uptown Park. 

Due to state and county guidelines in place at the beginning of the return to the outdoor summer series concerts, limited pod seating allowed for only 300 tickets to be sold which made the June 5 outdoor show a sellout even though the expense was $235 more than the revenue. The biggest loss in the concert series was July 10 with DSB which lost $2,465. The summer concerts account for a large amount of the revenue for the year and the last concert (Queen Nation) was to be on Sept. 25. The lead singer became ill and the concert was postponed. Ticket holders could keep their ticket for the rescheduled date of July 2, 2022 or receive a refund for that concert. 

Wolfe said, “We were awarded $2,364 from the U.S. Small Business Administration for the Shuttered Venue Operators Grant and the CSD would like to thank the Finance Department for all the help to provide the finance information to the grant as they were catalysts in obtaining that grant for us. In addition, the city council approved a cost recovery percentage for the Community Services Department of 65% in 2018 when fees were approved.” Two divisions were highlighted with the Aquatics Division that went from 15% cost recovery to 50% cost recovery this summer. The YPAC went from 44% cost recovery to 87% cost recovery.

Each division within CSD has a budget that was approved by the city council at the June 28 meeting. Therefore, there is no fiscal impact as a result of this item. 

 Councilmember David Avila asked about the meal delivery service for shut-ins and said “I was under the impression that we didn’t have enough volunteers to continue that, did we finally get enough volunteers to deliver meals to the shut-ins or are we still looking for volunteers?” Wolfe said “That is the USDA Commodities Program and we were able to complete the program up until August of this year. For the month of September, we have now transitioned over to Christ the Redeemer Church and they will continue the homebound deliveries.”

Avila asked, “On the sports division, how many youth took advantage of our CDBG grant program?” Wolfe answered they were awarded $13,500 to provide scholarships for low to moderately low income families. Those scholarships could be used for sports programs, STARS, senior services or any programs and services offered throughout the Community Services Department with about 90% used for STARS with the other 10% for seniors and sports, with a total of 312 individuals that were helped.

Casey said, “The whole team deserves so much credit for pivoting as rules changed due to the pandemic, from the state, county and city and the difficulty of going from shut-down mode to opening back up mode. Also adding the efforts associated with the vaccinations and testing in some of the city facilities not to mention burning the candle at both ends because of the freezing of staff positions so there were no coordinator positions available to help.”

 “They really have all worked around the clock to put on this programming and on top of that I asked them last spring to try to secure this grant. There aren’t a lot (of cities) that are our size that have been successful in obtaining a grant from the Federal Shuttered Venue Program…I want to take this opportunity to publicly thank them for those efforts and just working with the changes as they occurred in terms of the state and county requirements,” said Casey.

Mayor Greg Bogh said, “The Community Services Department is by far the most heavily impacted of all of our city departments and it was a tough 2020.” 

This item can be viewed at yucaipa.org.

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