PACOIMA : Conference to Link Social Service Efforts


A myriad of social service agencies and nonprofit organizations each take aim at helping, guiding or providing support to Pacoima-area residents who need it.

But who’s helping whom? And what’s working?

The organizers of the Rushing Water Council hope to answer those questions, in addition to cementing the sometimes tenuous ties between the dozens of organizations, both private and public, working to improve the quality of life in Pacoima, home to some of the San Fernando Valley’s poorest residents.

A conference the council will sponsor March 30 at Phoenix Academy in Lake View Terrace is thought to be the first event seeking the participation of every human service provider that reaches out to Pacoima residents.


“We’re talking librarians, anti-gang organizations, teachers, principals, teen pregnancy counselors, anti-alcohol and drug organizations, empowerment and job training program directors, health administrators, student association leaders--almost anybody who does anything to help people in Pacoima has been invited,” said Joanne Wright.

Wright is a member of the Burbank-based community organizing agency, Bridge Focus, and administrator of both the Pacoima and Sunland-Tujunga Coordinating Councils.

She said that the idea of organizing a conference for Pacoima service providers came to her about a year ago, when it became apparent how little some Pacoima-area agencies know about the work of other groups, many of which tackle the same social problems and target the same neighborhoods.

The conference, to be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., includes three workshops focusing on cooperation and collaboration between service organizations.

Chief Yaana of the Gabrielino tribe of Native Americans will give a blessing to open the conference.

The chief was asked to give the blessing because organizers said they felt it would set the proper tone of inclusion of all races.


“Native Americans take a different view of the land,” said Jan Barros, of Bridge Focus.

“They think of themselves as caretakers, not landowners,” said Barros, who is half Cherokee. “We invited Chief Yaana out of respect for the region.”

The conference’s name, Rushing Water, is an English translation of the Gabrielino word Pacoima.

Registration for the conference costs $10. For more information, contact Bridge Focus at (818) 563-5500.